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IC retailer encouraging resale with new store

BY SHIREEN AMEHDI | NOVEMBER 15, 2011 7:20 AM

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One Iowa City retailer is hoping to expand her business by encouraging locals to resell their gently used merchandise.

Stevie Toomey, the owner of InBox, 114 S. Clinton St., said she decided to start the soon-to-be store — OutBox — to provide locals with an opportunity to get more value for their clothing and accessories.

"As a business owner, my customers are my gold, and I want to continue to provide services that are wanted and needed," Toomey wrote in an email.

Though no permanent location has been determined, Toomey at present runs OutBox in her current InBox boutique.

The goal for OutBox is to encourage customers to recycle gently used merchandise from their closets — a move that has become more popular in an ailing economy.

According to data from the National Association of Resale Professionals, resale shops saw a 12.7 percent growth in net sales between 2008 and 2009. The report also said resale shops have experienced an increase in the volume of inventory they received.

Stephen Burnett, a Northwestern University strategic management professor, said people's spending behaviors change in a tough economy.

"When times are tough, consumers look for value and a solid benefit at lower prices," he said.

The establishment is located in the back of InBox as a preview to the types of merchandise that will be sold in order to test the market before expanding.

Toomey said customers will be able to consign clothing immediately and will be paid by a percentage of what their items sell for. Clients will be compensated through cash or store credit.

She thinks OutBox will differ from other local consignment and resale shops by being more selective in order to offer more upscale clothing.

Toomey also said she thinks her focus on customer service will attract those who might have otherwise looked to sell their products online, on such sites as Ebay.

"Personally, I am a tangible shopper. I do not want to sit at a computer to fill my time," Toomey said. "I want to see stores, interact with other humans."

InBox manager Alyssa Mullen said she thinks the new setup will also appeal to the college community.

"It will be beneficial for the student population, because consignment is always a great opportunity to get nice things at a substantially lower price," she said.


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