Offering distinctive - sometimes rare or one-of-a kind - merchandise priced attractively is at the heart of the business plan at Hidden Treasures, 33 N. 12th St.
Partners Betty Meyer and Jesus Banuelos opened this addition to the downtown commercial world Dec. 1. Their venture is a consignment store. Meyer said, however, it has options that differ significantly from what is typical for that business genre.
She said one of the store's critical attractions for people with items they wish to sell on consignment is the financial arrangement it offers.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Betty Meyer, co-owner of Hidden Treasures, selects a song to listen to on a vintage fully working jukebox for sale in her shop.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Bright neon greets visitors to Hidden Treasures, 33 N. 12th St.
"I only charge 35 percent," Meyer said, noting that similar stores frequently retain as much as 50 percent of the selling price.
Consignment contracts at Hidden Treasures are for either three or six months. At the end of the agreed-upon time, any unsold items can be reclaimed by the client. Alternatively, the contract can be extended. Meyer said she works with sellers to set prices that will make what they are marketing attractive to buyers.
In addition to the familiar consignment option, Hidden Treasures has nine booths of varying sizes available for people who have a number of items to sell. The store handles the selling of the merchandise, but the cost to the seller is the monthly fee for the booth rather than a percentage of the sales price.
"They pay the rent and that's all they pay," Meyer said.
Meyer said the inventory at Hidden Treasures is diverse and will change constantly. At any given time it is likely to include antiques, collectibles, decor items, furniture, glassware, jewelry, pictures and "so much more," she said. The store does not accept clothing on consignment.
"We have high-quality things," Meyer said. "The customer who can't afford a lot can come in and buy a nice gift for someone. ... We have a good variety."
Making certain the merchandise is first-rate is a priority at Hidden Treasures.
"I won't take anything that doesn't look right," Meyer said.
Hidden Treasures also features a large number of items that the owners have acquired at auctions and sales and are selling directly rather than on behalf of third parties. Meyer estimated that perhaps 30 percent of the inventory at the store is in this category.
The already extensive selection may be enhanced in 2012 with a selection of artwork. Meyer said she sees this as a way to make Hidden Treasures even more appealing to customers.
"I'd like to get some artists in here to promote them," Meyer said. "I have a lot of people who come here from out of town. They just might want it."
Meyer and Banuelos each bring extensive marketing savvy to their new enterprise.
"I was in business for 12 years in Webster City," Meyer said, noting that she owned a store there similar to Hidden Treasures named House of Bargains. "I had 38 to 40 consignors. It was a big operation."
The Webster City store closed in 2006. Meyer moved to Fort Dodge in 2007 to pursue other employment opportunities.
Banuelos and his wife, Patricia Banuelos, own a shop in Manson named Deal Makers. Both also spend significant time at Hidden Treasures.
"I got acquainted with him at an auction," Meyer said. "We got to talking. I was trying to find out how he operated his business. We thought maybe we should go into business as partners."
That's how the game plan for Hidden Treasures began to emerge.
Meyer said listening carefully to learn how best to serve patrons is critical to success in this type of business.
"I always say to them, if there's anything you don't see, let me know what you're looking for and we'll get it for you," she said. "Because we go to an auction a week somewhere."
Hidden Treasures is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and has ample parking. Meyer said the store will have a website at some point in 2012.
This new addition to downtown Fort Dodge got off to a fast start.
"I had 46 people through the door," Meyer said, reflecting on the first three days of operation.
She said Hidden Treasures fills an important niche in the business community.
"There's always a need for a small business like this," Meyer said. "A lot of people don't have a lot of money to spend."
Contact Terrence Dwyer at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org