A Hidden Treasure Hunt in Las Vegas
“We don’t sell icky stuff,” is Colleen’s Classic Consignment’s tagline and they stick by that rule.
Colleen’s Classic Consignment wants their customers to know that they aren’t your ordinary consignment store; they are a place to find unique, gently used items as well as brand new products they have received directly from the manufacturer.
“Marketing our unique product mix is a big part of our current branding strategy,” said Kevin Aiken, CEO/CMO of Colleen’s. “What makes our store fun is we have a mix of new and gently used furniture, so you are going to see furniture that is really nice. We are trying to tell our customers that while yes, we are a consignment store, we aren’t consignment like you might expect. Through our website, Facebook and our commercials, we are really focusing on letting people know that we aren’t your normal, consignment warehouse store.”
Sixteen years ago, Colleen’s Classic Consignment opened its doors to the Las Vegas market as a Terri’s Consign and Design store. Kevin’s mother, Colleen Aiken, had just moved to Las Vegas and worked with Terri’s Consign and Design to open up a franchise operation in the city. Eventually, Colleen decided to venture into the business world on her own, created a new business plan and renamed all of her stores “Colleen’s Classic Consignment”.
In August 2010, Kevin joined the family business since he is an only child and saw that it was the right time to help his mom out. “Quite honestly, in my youth, I ran as far away from the family business as possible,” he said. “It is now getting to a point where my mom is close to retirement and the business was becoming much more successful. With me being the only real heir here, my mom felt the business was at a point where she could commit to bringing me on the team, while she works towards retirement.”
Prior to joining the home furnishings industry, Kevin worked in the travel industry, having last worked for Travelocity. With outside industry experience, Kevin is able to bring fresh ideas into Colleen’s as well as a positive outlook on the future. He exudes excitement to learn the home furnishings industry as well as the potential for it in the future. “Coming from another industry, I see huge potential in the home furnishings industry. I feel the furniture world might be a couple steps behind the rest of the world in technology, which isn’t a bad thing, but it just shows there is so much potential out there for future growth and it makes it exciting,” he said.
When customers walk into one of the four Colleen’s Classic Consignment stores in Las Vegas, they are welcomed by a fresh and exciting product mix.
Consignment stores often have a rotating floor, so it may not look the same two weeks in a row. “We have interior decorators in each of our stores, and our furniture is grouped into vignettes. As we sell merchandise, we are selling it directly off the floor. Often we will sell an entire vignette and then replace that empty spot with something brand new. It keeps our floor fresh and customers visit the stores often. It makes shopping at Colleen’s fun because we might not have what a customer is looking for today, but if they come back in a week, we will have the exact set that they are looking for. That ‘finding a hidden treasure’ thing keeps people interested and coming back in,” Kevin said.
It’s important for Colleen’s to continually market to people who are interested in consigning their furniture in order to have a constant flow of new merchandise. This is one area where Kevin and his team are focusing more effort than they have in the past. They recently created a marketing campaign to inform people about consignment through Colleen’s. “We just launched a commercial that says, ‘Today’s Lesson: What is Consignment?,’” he said. “We are trying to educate people on what consignment is. That commercial, mixed with our new website, which was built around generating more consignment business, are our first steps in educating people and gaining more consignment customers.”
They are also educating people on the benefits of using consignment as opposed to selling furniture on their own. One of their main competitors for finding consignors is the ability for consumers to place used items on Craigslist. To help educate, and find great products, Colleen’s has a few employees that do outreach to possible customers. They comb yard sales, estate sales and Craigslist for products—as well as educate the person who is selling the item. “We are always looking for deals, the best products and ways to educate the people selling the product. We inform them it is safer and easier to work with a consignment store like us. You only have one person coming to your home, we will pick up the product for you, do all of the leg work, and then mail you a check,” Kevin said.
The product mix of Colleen’s Classic Consignment makes the business unique compared to other consignment stores. They also deal directly with manufacturers, many that show at the Las Vegas Market, and offer their customers brand new furniture at a price point that others can’t compete with. This unique mix has helped Colleen’s stay profitable even through the tough economy that hit the Las Vegas housing market hard.
Kevin and Colleen are very excited about the future of their business. They see many opportunities on the horizon and are motivated to create a stronger business for their employees. “Our future will revolve around generating revenue online as well as expanding into other markets outside of the Las Vegas area,” Kevin said. “Our consignment model is really unique, and we have the ability to bring something new to the marketplace. If we have a business in New York and one in Vegas, and a customer happens to be moving from one city to another, they could essentially consign their furniture in one location, and build up credit for them to purchase new furniture at a different location. Essentially you could consign in New York, and pick out furniture in Las Vegas. I think this is an area where many companies haven’t really tapped into the possibilities, and I am excited to see what we can do.”
Another area where Kevin sees a great deal of growth potential is offering online selling opportunities. While the plan hasn’t been finalized, it would entail creating an area of their website to a product that would be offered for a limited amount of time. Once that time is up (or the product has sold), a new product will be featured. “We are sort of modeling our idea after the company Steep and Cheap,” Kevin said. “They put a product on their site for 30 minutes, or until it sells out, and customers then have X amount of time to buy the product. This creates a sense of urgency and if a product doesn’t sell, it rotates to the next piece of merchandise to keep people tuned in and the merchandise fresh.”
With all of the excitement, outside industry experience and positive outlook for the future, Colleen’s Classic Consignment will be furnishing the homes of many markets for years to come.
by Melissa Dressler, Managing Editor, Western Retailer