Consignment stores thriving during uneasy economic times

By: Brad Smith, Telegraph Correspondent
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While some businesses have been hard hit by the recent economic downturn, the only problem Rory Kraft has is keeping inventory stocked in his store. “The minute product hits the sales floor,” he said, “it’s soon heading out the door, purchased by a very happy customer.” Kraft manages the Home Consignment Center, located at 850 East Bidwell St. He doesn’t think the recession has touched his store. “When it comes to shopping, most people are always looking for good deals. This store and others like it offers just that,” he said. Typically, consignment stores are businesses offering previously owned items at a lower cost than new. Many consignment stores do sell new items as well. The consignee — the seller — pays the consignor — the initial owner — a portion of the sale’s proceeds. Payment isn’t made until the item actually sells. Consignors usually hold the item’s title at all times and can end the arrangement simply by requesting the item’s return. Kraft’s store carries everything from jewelry to appliances. “Right now, our hottest items are plasma TV stands. People really want those items,” he said. Further up the street at 1012 East Bidwell, Nancy Darrah’s Belle Mode is doing “incredibly well.” The store deals with women’s designer clothing, shoes and accessories. “Belle Mode has a lot of loyal customers,” Darrah said, “which equates to excellent word-of-mouth advertising.” Darrah said that aside from a loyal customer base, she does a lot of business over the Internet with regional customers. As with Kraft, she hasn’t seen a drop in business. “Then again, I have a lot of shopaholics who come into my store,” she said. Kraft has his share of familiar faces as well. “We have a large number of customers who do business with us on a regular basis,” he said. Kelly Applegate, a commercial and residential interior designer, is one of those familiar faces. “That store is a treasure trove to me,” she said of Home Consignment. “I can find some unique items that’ll suit my clients’ requirements.”