Secondhand store moves to bigger digs

Sunday, May 10, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

A fitting turn of events for a consignment shop:

Two years ago, Another Look got another chance by its owner, Barb Niehaus. Now, it's getting another home, to accommodate a new kind of customer.

Seems demand outpaced her 880-square-foot store. So Ms. Niehaus relocated the second-hand retailer from Colerain Township to Mount Healthy, to a three-story house almost three times the size of the original business.

"Our business was growing. We have almost 1,500 consignors now," Ms. Niehaus said. "We were turning people away right and left."

She estimates 400 to 500 new consignors do business with Another Look each year.

When they do, their merchandise is displayed for 90 days. If it sells, Ms. Niehaus and the consignor usually split the price 50-50 -- furniture merchants get 60 percent to her 40 percent.

If the goods don't sell, Ms. Niehaus can donate them to a number of area causes.

Many of the consignors are professional women who clear out their closets, then either collect the cash or put the earnings toward credit at Another Look. Ms. Niehaus said the number of such women is on the rise.

Wouldn't be surprising. The popularity of off-price discounters such as Target and T.J. Maxx has helped develop a cross-shopping culture. Now, it is de rigueur to buy at both Saks Fifth Avenue and Wal-Mart.

Consignment shops are a logical extension of that budget mentality.

Plus, Americans are tiring of spending the bulk of their hard-earned cash on threads. Fun time -- entertainment, dinner, vacation -- is at a premium, and so people are spending a higher percentage of discretionary income on such pleasures.

"It used to be that a lot of people wouldn't admit they consign," Ms. Niehaus said. "But we have doctors' wives, attorneys."

In 1995, Ms. Niehaus sold Another Look to spend time with her kids. The following May, she bought the Colerain Township store back after its owner opened another store.

"I couldn't stand it," she said. "It's my baby."

Working on the air: Three months after putting the entrepreneurial cause on the air in Cincinnati, entrepreneurs Tammy Wynn and Michael Catanzaro are getting national attention.

The duo in February launched Success Radio, a program addressing entrepreneurial issues, on radio station WKRC-AM (550). That 13-week contract expired May 2, but C-Tel Wireless has chosen to sponsor the show for 13 more weeks.

Here is a sampling of guests on upcoming Saturday evening (8 to 9 p.m.) shows: Daryl Travis, president of marketing firm Arian, Lowe & Travis in Chicago; nationally known motivational speakers Les Brown and Zig Ziglar; and authors Phyllis Martin, Dan Kennedy and Tony Alessandra.

Miss Wynn, founder of the fledgling Team Resources management consulting, targeted the program as a way to promote good start-up sense and at the same time get her name out. Mr. Catanzaro, owner of Info-National sales and marketing for deregulated utilities, joined her.

"My business has exploded, and I have to attribute it completely to the show," she said.

Lisa Biank Fasig covers small-business news for The Enquirer. Call her at 768-8498 or e-mail her at lfasigenquirer.com

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