In the Press
New Uses, a home goods resale chain, launches in western suburbs
February 17, 2012
from Chicago Business online
The success of thrift stores in recession-chastened America has been well documented, but Elaine Krieger's burgeoning resale empire stands out nonetheless.
After getting laid off from a corporate marketing job in 1999, Ms. Krieger wandered into a Once Upon a Child resale franchise without knowing it was a used clothing store and picked up a few $4 Gap Kids dresses that were remarkably similar to full-priced versions she'd bought just weeks earlier.
"I ran home and said to my husband, 'Honey, I want to open a resale shop,'" she remembers saying and laughs.
That same year, she opened her first Once Upon a Child store in Joliet. Today, she owns 12 thrift store franchises, including Plato's Closet and Clothes Mentor locations throughout the west and southwest suburbs; employs 160 people and pulls in $10 million in revenue annually.
This weekend, she'll open her 13th store, New Uses, in Streamwood, selling used home goods ranging from power tools to Waterford crystal.
Part of an expanding national franchise chain, New Uses plans to have hundreds of stores across the country within several years. Ms. Krieger has contracted to open four more within several years.
At 8,100 square feet, New Uses will be two to three times the size of an average resale shop, Ms. Krieger says. Items generally cost from $4 to $10. Something that retails new for $40 might cost about $8 at New Uses, depending on its condition.
"You can furnish an entire apartment for $900," Ms. Krieger says.
Like resale clothing outlet Plato's Closet, New Uses gives sellers cash upfront—usually about 40 percent of the price it will garner at the store.
Ms. Krieger says her typical customer is a middle-class consumer who can afford to buy new, but prefers to find deals. She expects her businesses to keep growing, even as the economy continues its slow rebound.
"The world's headed toward value-driven businesses," she says. "And as long as people accumulate too much stuff, they're going to need a place to unload it."
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