Margaret MinerBoulder, Colorado, United States
I never imagined becoming a consignment store owner would turn out to be what it has become. In 1995, I opened Rags, less than 1000 square feet, after reading a book on how to open a consignment store. I had no business background, no business education, three small children and $6,500. Today, we've grown into an operation with 20 plus employees, 5,500 square feet, 28,000 consignors, 250-300 newly-consigned items a day and over 1.2M in sales, and we are adding currently 1400 square feet to the current location, as well as opening a second location in another market, and a third, in yet another market in 2014.
Here’s just a bit of what we can cover in our PivotPlanet session(s):
• How to determine whether or not this is something you really want to pursue.
• How to avoid as many of the typical start-up/consignment store pitfalls.
• How to make a plan to get it open.
• How to create an exit strategy. (I know you don't want to hear it, but it's important!)
• How to create systems that work for you and make sense for your customers and staff.
After all these years, I still love the work. I love (almost all of) the customers, and their enthusiasm and support of me and the business. I love the beautiful fabrics and cuts of the clothes. I love the people who work with me. I love the thrill of trying new ideas, and expanding into other areas. I love the freedom to move around in the world. I love the paycheck, and I love that I did it.
I've been in this field for over 18 years. What I've gained is autonomy, but... only because the leap of faith and big risk I took worked. I'm most proud of having created a business entity that people trust and keep coming back to. Okay, I like the money!
I started my work life as a bus person in a steak house in Texas, followed by working in an office that sold electrostatic air filters; a gig in a small boutique; a stint as a Jazzercise instructor/franchisee and finally a brief period selling pyramid-scheme toys. I've always had the entrepreneurial gene and reinforced this gene with hard work and determination. Gumption is the word I use.
I find myself saying to anyone thinking about starting a business, “Fifty people will walk in the door and be happy about the experience. One will walk in the door and not be happy about a thing! Don't waste time crying and agonizing over how to change everything for that one person. She/he may not be happy with anything in their life…including you.”
I also remind people: when you are thinking about opening a business and someone whose expertise you admire asks to help, say, "Yes, thank you;” when you realize you've made a mistake, fix it right away; and always make it a point to personally know your customers.