Beverly Mundschenk opened her new business in the depth of the recession, and it didn’t hurt her one bit.
Mundschenk runs a consignment shop in Billings, specializing in brand-name men’s and women’s clothing and accessories, and every weeks since she opened two years seems busier than the week before.
“Many people who might have bought new are coming in,” she said. “I’ve had people tell me they don’t go to the stores for new stuff because they can’t afford it, they’re trying to raise a family, and it’s getting harder.”
The Twice as Nice Consignment shop at 511 24th St. W. is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and may be reached at 652-4470.
Another sign of tough times is the increase in the number of well-dressed consignors who used to just drop their clothes off at thrift stores.
“There are a lot of women with very nice clothes who want a little extra money in their pocket rather than take the tax write-off from leaving their clothes at the mission stores,” she said.
She pays consignors 40 percent of what their clothing sells for, and 25 percent for household items and jewelry.
Here’s what else Mundschenk had to say about why she started the business and what she’s doing to help customers find its tricky location:
Nature of the business:
Babies, children, teenagers, women, men’s clothes, shoes, belts, scarves, purses and small household consignments. I also sell new costume jewelry, new hats, new purses. A lot of my consignments come in new with tags on them. Also I have a lot of top brand names such as Chico’s, Coldwater Creek, Abercombie and Fitch, Silver, GAP, Christopher & Banks, Lucky and many more.
Why start this business?
I have always shopped second-hand clothing and it was the type of business that I felt I could afford to get into with minimal money. Also, I like working with the public.
Where did start-up funding come from?
How long have you been in business?
As of last April 1, two years.
Your biggest challenge during the current recession?
I know there are a lot of second-hand shoppers, and where my store is located is kind of hidden behind Godfather’s Pizza. I finally got a sign on the street in November 2009 and that has really helped. But, daily I have people come in saying “I didn’t know you were here.”
What was done to overcome those challenges?
Sign and advertising. I’m currently starting radio ads in April.
What is being done to expand the business?
At this time I have all I can handle by myself.
Your best business decisions?
Buying a computer and consignment program. It tracks inventory and sales and prints tickets for resale. It is wonderful.
Your worst business mistake?
Not starting out with a computer in the first place.
What advice do you have for someone running a business?
You need to be there working and overseeing the business.
Number of workers?
I have a lady who volunteers her time and a couple of high school students who help move clothes for school credits.
What’s your five-year plan for the business?
Grow the business and hopefully I can hire one person full time and possibly expand.
A question you would ask other entrepreneurs?
Did you know owning a consignment business was this much work? It’s a good thing I’m a worker, if I wasn’t I would have failed by now.
If you weren’t doing what you are now, what would be your dream job?
Floral arrangements and working in a greenhouse.