Steamboat Springs Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the thrift store sales statistics for LIFT-UP of Routt County.
Steamboat secondhand businesses
Annie’s Home Consignments, 405 Anglers Drive
Bargain Barn, 2780 Acre Lane
Boomerang Sports Exchange, 1125 Lincoln Ave.
Déjà vu Boutique, 624 Lincoln Ave.
Habitat for Humanity ReStore, 718 Oak St.
Jack and Jill, 1890 Logger’s Lane
LIFT-UP of Routt County Thrift Store, 2125 Curve Plaza
Mister Money, 130 Ninth St.
Plan B, 2400 Lincoln Ave.
Rummagers Thrift Store, 1103 Lincoln Ave.
Steamboat Home Consignments, 1025 Lincoln Ave.
Steamboat Moxie Home Consignments and Design, 1855 Shield Drive
Twice as Nice Shoppe, 1306 Lincoln Ave.
Steamboat Springs residents Randy Lentz and Kevin Dyche saw an opportunity, in spite of the economic recession.
Affected by the construction slowdown, Lentz, a contractor, and Dyche, a real estate broker, needed to find a way to supplement their incomes. And they did.
“This winter, just because we were slow, we started going to storage unit auctions and estate sales, buying anything we could make a buck on,” Lentz said. “Before we knew it, all the products we were acquiring to resell, we were selling through the other consignment stores. So we decided to open our own.
“We’re overwhelmed by what we’ve been doing so far.”
Lentz and Dyche opened Plan B, a store that buys, sells and trades anything from jewelry to snowmobiles.
The store, which opened in early June, is among the 13 secondhand businesses in Steamboat. Of those, seven have opened since June 2010. In addition to Plan B, they are: Bargain Barn, Boomerang Sports Exchange, Routt County Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, Jack and Jill, Steamboat Moxie Home Consignments and Design and Steamboat Home Consignments.
Rose Atkins, who opened Rummagers Thrift Store in 2000, said she thinks the recession has led to new secondhand businesses in Steamboat. She said the number of foreclosures and bankruptcies has increased donations.
While the number of people looking for deals has increased, Atkins said that hasn’t resulted in an uptick in her business.
“I have dropped, too,” she said. “And you know if my store has dropped, we’re in a recession. It’s more like a trading post here. It’s not all about the product we offer but a service. We recycle goods.”
The economy continues to impact Steamboat residents. Unemployment in Routt County increased to 11.2 percent in May, up from 10.1 percent in April. And according to the Colorado Workforce Center, the labor force in Routt County has decreased from its peak of 17,116 jobs in January 2008 to 13,106 last month. Of that number, 11,643 had jobs.
LIFT-UP of Routt County Executive Director David Freseman said demand for LIFT-UP’s services never was higher than last year. He said thrift store sales increased 20 percent from 2008 to 2009 and another 10 percent from 2009 to 2010. This year, Freseman said thrift store sales are down 2 percent and help with other services, such as rent and utilities, is down 20 percent.
“From our perspective, it would indicate there’s a minor turnaround beginning,” he said, but added that there was still a significant need for LIFT-UP’s services. “It’s way higher than it was in early 2007 and 2008. Maybe it’s down a little from last year, but last year was astronomically higher than any year before.”
Cliff Russell, who has owned Mister Money with his wife, Johanna, since 1997, said as the economy slows, the requests for the pawn shop’s services increase. He said the business is limited by state and federal restrictions but tries to help as many people as it can.
“The pawn business in some instances is the very last resort for some of these people,” Russell said.
Some of the new secondhand business owners already are reporting success.
Betty Dickey, who opened Bargain Barn in August because she had three full storage units she wanted to get rid of, said her business has increased as word spreads. She said it’s become steady in the past few months as people have left town or are simplifying their lives.
Evlyn Hukriede, who opened Steamboat Home Consignments with her husband, Robert, their daughter and her boyfriend on April 1, said many of her customers were cutting back or were second-home owners who could no longer to afford to live in the area.
The business has done “phenomenally well,” Hukriede said. She said they just signed a 10-year lease and plan to take over the entire Pilot Office Outfitters building after operating only the front half since opening.
Hukriede credited part of Steamboat Home Consignments’ success to community support, including other secondhand business owners. She said they refer customers to one another’s businesses.
Plan B co-owner Dyche said he and Lentz also have been helped by other secondhand business owners.
“The support’s been amazing,” he said. “The whole resale community seems to be growing. It seems to be a hot trend right now with the economy the way it is, the way people are struggling. People seem to be on the same page helping each other.”