The racks inside Encore Resale Shoppe have been arranged in a rainbow-colored gradient for about 15 years, owner Jennifer Henry said, ever since one of her employees started organizing them this way.
Josie Sanchez, another of Henry’s employees, said the arrangement was so popular it was duplicated by other area resale shops.
The store, which celebrates its 40th anniversary Tuesday, has seen many tweaks and improvements to its business model over the years.
Henry said the ability to think outside the box has been key in her ability to keep the shop going as long as she has.
Although she’s had competition in the consigning market from several stores over the past 40 years, Henry said not one has been able to outlast her business.
Encore is the only clothing consignment store in Victoria. Unlike in resale shops like Goodwill, Mid-Coast Family Service Thrift Store and Habitat for Humanity Outlet, Henry said the people who bring clothes to her store own the items from the time they bring them in until the moment they’re sold to customers.
The thousands of clothing items, accessories, handbags, shoes and household goods don’t belong to Henry but to her army of consignors, of which she said there are about 4,000.
In exchange for storage and selling the items, Henry’s store takes a percentage of the item’s sale price.
“It’s a 60-40,” Henry said. “We keep 60, we give them 40. We keep 60 because of overhead.”
In addition to the organization of items on the racks, the staff has taken on various projects over the years, including maintaining a Facebook page where new inventory is cataloged.
“In recent decades, there’s been a big focus on social media, doing Facebook sales and live Facebook sales,” said Adele R. Meyer, executive director of NARTS: The Association of Resale Professionals.
Meyer said the popularity of resale and consignment stores among shoppers has increased with a renewed focus in recent years on sustainability and bargain hunting.
In a more rural part of Texas, like Victoria, Meyer said the lack of competition can be a business boon.
“In a more populated area there will most likely be more shops,” Meyer said. “You just have less population and a smaller demographic of customers and supplies to draw from.”
In Victoria, Henry has managed to attract a number of high-profile items through her doors. Recent items passing through her store include Michael Kors handbags, Lucchese boots and Kendra Scott jewelry.
Henry attributes her store’s success to her dedicated employees, who keep an eye on clothing trends via social media.
One of Henry’s employees, Josie Sanchez, has been with her from the very beginning. She started babysitting Henry’s daughter, now in her 40s, when the girl was a child.
“She was taking care of my kids while I opened,” Henry said. “Then she started working Saturdays, Fridays, and then Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.”
Sanchez said she likes working in the consignment industry because she gets to see the interesting items people bring in.
Wednesday, one of the store’s three monthly consignment days, on which people can bring items to sell to the store, Sanchez turned away a pair of flip-flops from one consigner who’d been coming to the store for years.
In preparation for the winter months, Henry said, the store usually stops accepting summer items in the fall.
“It’s just fun to see what people have to bring in,” Sanchez said.
Henry, who was inspired to open the store after visiting a similar one in Austin, said she thought it was going to be a hobby when she opened. She said the support of loyal staff like Sanchez has helped her turn the venture into a lifelong business.
“For someone in business, if they don’t have a right-hand person, then I don’t think the longevity can be there,” Henry said.