Local discount store thrives despite recession

May 4, 2009 at 5:05 pm (Uncategorized)

Bargain hunting is more than a hobby during a recession. For some Lincoln residents, it’s become a lifestyle, and local clothing stores are noticing the change.

“If my mom’s paying for it, I’ll buy it full price. But If I have to pay for it, I look for a good deal,” said Elizabeth Sand, a senior nutrition science major at UNL.

As consumers search for ways to save, secondhand stores and discount stores may have an advantage during times of economic hardship. An article on istockanalyst.com suggests that Americans are “showing an enthusiasm for thriftiness.”

The Black Market

The Black Market

The Black Market, a local secondhand store, is currently up 25 percent in sales compared to last year. People can bring their gently used clothing in to the store and exchange it for new items. Consumers are
drawn to the store because of the low prices on barely worn apparel.

Looks from Two 64

Looks from Two 64

Two64, a hip menswear store located in downtown Lincoln, just closed. The owners were unavailable for comment, but Juliane Glasco co-owner of Stella, a Lincoln based clothing boutique said, “Two64 didn’t have a strong niche in Lincoln as far as merchandise and price points go.”

Rialto Extra, a vintage clothing boutique located in Lincoln, also recently closed. In a Journal Star article the owner, Ericka Flanders, said she closed the boutique because she was ready to move on to something else. There was no mention of financial hardship.

Glasco is optimistic about business at Stella despite a 5 percent decrease in sales compared to a year ago. She said, “I think once the market evens out a bit people won’t be so scared to keep shopping and doing what they were doing before the recession.”

Glasco attributes the recent decrease in sales at Stella to the store’s reliance on college students. She said students’ parents are likely to be saving right now, and the effects are trickling down to her business. To challenge the trend she said she tries to keep the price points at Stella “as low as possible.”

“I’ve never walked into Stella because I heard it was pricy,” said Sand. “I tend to think about prices more now; I’m a discount shopper.”

“During these times people want the best value for their money,” Toby Burnham said. “When the economy turns around we’ll do just that much better.”

Burnham, the manager of The Black Market, said the store first opened in October of 2004 and has experienced great success since. This month the store is already up 5 percent compared to March. “And it’s only the beginning of the month,” Burnham said.

The Black Markets former north store location

The Black Market's former north store location

The store hasn’t always seen sunshine and rainbows though. April 6, The Black Market closed its second Lincoln store less than a year after opening. It was located at 2808 N 48th St.

Burnham said the north store location first opened in July. “It wasn’t quite the right neighborhood,” he said. “And with bad economic hardship it wasn’t the right time to jump into something like that.”

The merchandise that filled the north location will be moved to the downtown location. The staff at The Black Market is currently rearranging the downtown store to make room for the influx of inventory.

Burnham said they relocated the merchandise instead of having a sale to encourage buyers because they knew the articles would sell just fine at the downtown location. He said, “We would take a handful and bring it downtown and we didn’t even have enough time to get a price on it and it’d sell.”

Burnham sees a bright future ahead for The Black Market. “I definitely think we are progressing,” he said. “The longer we’re here the more we know. And we’re getting better about getting in what people want to buy.”

Burnham believes by helping the planet they are also drawing in a wave of environmentally conscious customers. The Black Market encourages consumers to use reusable shopping bags. The store also provides unique services such as screen printing and alterations. Burnham thinks distinctive services contribute to the success of The Black Market.

Glasco said she’s not worried about the future of Stella even though she’s seen other local boutiques go under. She plans to combat the recession with email blasts. She said this will drive traffic to the boutique’s new Web site and will constantly update her clients on promotional items or sales.

“We just have to stay on top of it with good customer service,” Glasco said. “As long as we stay on top of what our customers are wanting to see, I think it’ll be fine I’m not worried.”


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