As families all across America continue to stretch the value of a dollar, small business owners are pushed to find a unique niche to fulfill for customers to survive. Laurie Rodriguez, owner of the new in Fox Point, said consignment fulfills that niche.
“It’s difficult but I think this is the kind of business that has a chance to succeed in this economy,” she said. “People are always looking for good deals on quality items and we’re offering that.”
The Green House, 6858 N. Santa Monica Blvd., opened Nov. 11 and Rodriguez said she's already receiving requests from customers for particular pieces or furniture or to discuss if she would consign an item they own.
"Flexibility is paramount for a small business owner to try as much as possible to meet the needs of the customers in the community," she said.
But this isn't the first consignment store that's come to call Fox Point home. Legacies, Ltd. has been on Port Washington Road for more than 75 years but features more traditional consignment items.
"I’ll take art, I’ve got walls," Rodriguez said with a smile. The Green House focuses more on contemporary, modern art, home furnishings, eclectic accents, lighting and rugs.
“Legacies handles more traditional furnishings,” Rodriguez said. “This is going to be something that gives people a choice. People who want something more mid-century to modern or, perhaps, art deco.”
Rodriguez says she keeps her consigned goods for sale in her store for three months. After the first month, the price goes down 15 percent. Then, the price goes down an additional 15 percent after two months in the shop.
Some of the furnishings in The Green House have print outs from retailers showing what the exact same item would go for in a run-of-the-mill store or what one could get them online for. This gives customers a chance to compare prices.
As businesses have come and go due to the tough economy, like Heinemann's, Dollar Delight in River Point, Hamas Restaurant, Cafe Osher and Audubon Court books, Fox Point Village Manager Susan Robertson agrees there's a special market for consignment businesses.
“Those businesses are affected similarly to what most businesses face in a down economy,” Robertson said. “However, there are people that might be out there looking for something new at a bargained rate, so there might be more stability. A lot of consignment is word of mouth.”
And the word is spreading. Rodriguez is currently working on creating a web page for the new shop but has a Facebook page that's garnering a few "likes."
"We are recycling," Rodriguez said. "We’re recycling high end, but we’re still recycling. That’s why I called it the green house, because we’re up-scale eco-friendly."