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Sparrow's Closet in SV newest venture for young entrepreneur
By David Phillips
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 5:14 AM
Jenn Slifka, right, with her mother, Suzanne Gardner, outside the Sparrow's Closet in downtown Spring Valley. Gardner has put in many hours at the new store, which opened in late November next door to Chateau de Chic.
Chateau de Chic owner Jenn Slifka joked that coffee is responsible for keeping her on the move as she reflected last week on her sixth anniversary of her start in business.
However, it's obvious that more than coffee is fueling the 28-year-old woman's aspirations as she recently opened a second business in downtown Spring Valley and even contemplates the possibility of yet another sometime in the future. Plus, she had a successful runway show at the Spring Valley Business Expo this fall and is planning a bridal show and wedding event in January.
Her newest idea, the Sparrow's Closet, recently opened its doors at 108 N. Broadway Ave. adjacent to Chateau de Chic in downtown Spring Valley. It's a consignment shop that features lightly used clothing for all ages, shapes and sizes plus accessories, such as jewelry, scarves and shoes, home décor, antiques and "a little bit of everything," said Slifka.
Consignment shops are popular these days, said Slikfa, because people want to change things up often without putting a lot of money into it. The trend is a reflection of a fast-paced world with constant change and an economy that requires purchases at a decent price, she explained.
By offering slightly used items, "it works well for everybody," she said.
Although the Sparrow's Closet has been open just three weeks, it is already a hit.
"So far, we've been getting new items daily," said Slifka. This is important, she explained, because that means the stock is constantly changing with always new items available to people on the lookout for something different.
The store is open to anyone to consign and people can drop off items at any time with no appointment necessary. Very few items are rejected and the price is based on brand, quality, age, condition and selling power.
The store has many popular brand names, including Ambercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Hollister and Miss Me Jeans for young people, along with Ann Taylor, Chicos, Cold Water Creek, the Gap and Old Navy clothing. Sizes range from extra small to 4X.
Although consignment shops in larger cities tend to specialize, Slifka strives to keep a wide variety of items available for all ages and tastes.
"In a small town, it's important to cater to everybody, which is what we are trying to do," she said.
She also keeps the hours extended, compared to many small town stores, so people can get to her shop after work. Hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Slifka entered the business world at the age of 22 when she opened Chateau de Chic on Dec. 11, 2006, on Broadway Avenue at the intersection with the main highway through town. She moved the business downtown in July 2011 to a larger building, which allowed expansion of her product line and services.
The salon had some accessories available and eventually she added some clothing, which she said went over really well. However, she didn't have the room for all she wanted to carry.
When she heard that the business next door, Bluff Country Wireless, was considering a change, she inquired about expanding into that building. The location is convenient because she opened up the access between the two buildings, allowing customers to flow between the two businesses.
She originally considered opening a new clothing store, but she didn't want to jump into something too fast as her first business is still relatively young, which means those startup costs remain a factor.
Slifka figured that the consignment shop filled a need, yet didn't have the expenses of a new clothing store. However, she hasn't extinguished the dream of a clothing boutique. She still has hopes of establishing that kind of business in the future when she is more settled in her other businesses.
Her motivation is not only to complement her existing business, but also to add to the vitality of downtown, which she feels is on the upswing with the addition of new stores, such as The Salsa Guy, Ladd K9, Minnesota Joe's and Vintage Point Artifacts.
"Everything we have down here is going to benefit all of us," she said.
When asked what drives her, she said that she has always wanted to be in business for herself. When pushed for more reasons on what motivates a young woman to take on all these projects, she sticks with the coffee rationale as she finishes another cup, gets up from a rare break in the action and goes back to all the responsibilities of running her businesses.
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