Well, perhaps not ALL the reasons, we don’t have all day. I’ve been working in local resale shops for more than 40 years, and it’s been over 30 years since I founded Here We Go Again deluxe resale boutique. To say that I love the resale business is an understatement. Although most parents would likely take issue, my Portland Resale Shop is like my child. She is grown up now, which is a shock!
When the shop was in her infancy, she demanded a lot of hours, a lot of attention and many sleepless nights. Now that Here We Go Again is a “mature” business, she’s still demanding, but at least there are fewer of those sleepless nights, and less worry.
I love my job. I mean, some days it feels like I’m just resale shopping for a living. Some of that is resale shopping for other women, but a lot of it is like treasure hunting every day. At our local resale shop, women’s clothing, shoes, handbags, jewelry and all kinds of accessories come through our doors all day, every day. Each item holds promise, each seeking a second life with a new person.
Even beyond the perqs of feeling like every day is Christmas/Birthday/Valentine’s Day all rolled into one, I love my jobs for so many other reasons. Truthfully, I feel like I’m in my second phase of loving the business, and much like relationships ebb and flow, so have my feelings toward running a resale shop.
At the beginning, it was all excitement, blue sky and future prospects. As a business owner, it’s hard to separate yourself and how you’re doing from how the business is faring. There were hard years, and bumpy roads, just like any relationship. As with a child, I never stopped loving it, but some of the middle years tested me. Surprisingly, you’d think that the past two years (plus) navigating the pandemic would have been the hardest. I won’t dispute that. Trying to stay afloat with a brick and mortar locally-owned resale shop when nobody can come in your door? One of the biggest challenges we’ve faced. Nevertheless, the past couple years have been some of the most rewarding and enjoyable times I’ve had.
Yes, it’s true I love a challenge, but the thing I’ve loved most about the past couple years is really leaning into our vibe, creating a community, and learning how to make it fun again. Not just for myself, but for our shoppers and consignors. During the pandemic, it felt like we all needed some levity, but also authenticity. Having written twice-monthly emails for years prior, during the shutdown I needed to communicate more often with our loyal resale shoppers and accelerated to a weekly schedule. What started out more newsy – what’s happening-how are we doing-when can we reopen, etc. metamorphosed into a more philosophical tone. I started writing about how I felt, how we could get through the pandemic together. Almost immediately, it became clear that I hit a resonant chord with a lot of our readers. What I was feeling echoed what a lot of our local resale shopping crowd was also feeling. All I did was share my experiences, what I was going through, and the chord resonated like ripples in a pond. Not only was that validating for me, but also drew me closer to our shoppers, and them to us as a business. I embarked on that journey with an eye toward business survival and ended up creating a resale community filled with love. Every word was authentically me, I didn’t write from a marketing perspective, but the upshot is that we connected in a way I’d never imagined we could.
Of course, with every business you want to connect authentically with your customers and fans, but that’s only one part of what makes me love my job as a local resale shop owner. Thirty years and counting! I can’t even fathom how long that is, or how it would be possible to stay with a job that wasn’t satisfying for that long.
The most significant part of loving my job is the people-shoppers, consignors and most especially staff. We’ve always had fun working at Here We Go Again. Laughs are guaranteed every day, and sharing of stories, fears, lives, goals and more. In addition to growing closer to our community, we’ve grown closer to each other. We’re a smaller group than we used to be, but we’re tight. We enjoy each other’s company, and even though I am “the boss”, it doesn’t feel particularly hierarchical. I realize this is coming from my perspective and may not being realistically portraying their views, so feel free to ask them too!
As if that wasn’t enough, I love my job because of the trust placed in us. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that our consignors entrust us with not only every day type things to sell, but also some very valuable authentic designer consignment items. Not infrequently we welcome a new consignor with high-end designer items to consign. They are occasionally wary of us or skeptical of the process. We understand. We’ve heard the stories and seen the online complaints from people who’ve had bad or even fraudulent experiences with resale stores. Knowing that very nearly causes me physical pain. Reputable resale shop owners cringe when they hear horror stories, either about things going missing, or failing to pay consignors in a timely manner, or – the WORST- going out of business and leaving everyone without either their consigned items or their sale commissions. It reflects badly on all of us, leaving every resale boutique and consignment shop with a black eye, no matter how far away we are, or how reputably we operate our own resale shops. Suffice it to say that we always strive to compensate for the bad actors out there, and go a little overboard to prove our accountability standards. Just as an example, we pay on demand, no waiting until the end of the consignment period, no specific day of the month to claim payments. Anytime we’re open, our consignors can ask to be paid, for any amount large or small.
Our job is to instill the trust in our new consignors the way we have with all consignors who preceded them. We accomplish that by being honest up front, and communicative throughout the process. We’ve brought more than a few skeptics around, who are now relaxed and confident in their relationship with us.
Each consignor gets her list of items emailed to her once we’ve completed entry into our database. Our consignors can check their account balances online anytime. Or- sit down, this may shock you - we answer the phone whenever we’re open. No menu system, an actual human who can answer your questions. We also try to reply to every email message, every online message, every voicemail, almost always the same day.
Lastly, we’re human and mistakes can happen. But if we are at fault, we own it. Not only do we own it, we make it right. After all, what we’re selling is not just an easy way to resell your designer consignment items, we’re selling trust. It’s the foundation of our business. I couldn’t sleep at night if it weren’t.
I wish everyone could have a job that is as rewarding, satisfying and fulfilling as mine. I wish every job was this much fun. In other words, I hope you have a job you love and lots of reasons why you love it. Mine feeds my soul as well as my body. It keeps my mind active and amused, and I get to look at treasures everyday – imagine being paid for that!