Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Second Hand Chic

Posted By on January 25, 2011, 11:32 PM

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As Sugar House continues to figure out what to do with their newly formed gravel storage pit, other parts of the area have moved on and are now thriving as a spread out community. The tight-knit community vibe may still exist along parts of Highland and 2100 South, but as the reality sets in that the once proud center will probably never return, along with the idea of the new trolley line coming sooner than development, capturing the spirit of Sugar House away from the former focal point isn't such a terrible idea.

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--- Take for example Second Hand Chic, a knick-knack and craft store with a wide array of materials for the home. Art, fashion, housewares, jewelry and more falling somewhere between kitsch and home comfort without the tackiness. The shop has become a frequent stop for Sugar House shoppers, whether to buy or browse, helping the community that lost many shoppers gradually gain some back in their own way. I got a chance to chat with owner Kelly Ballard and two of her employees about the shop and thoughts on local business.

Caitlin Moline, Kelly Ballard & Kimberly Kent
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http://2ndhandchic.com/

Gavin: Hello ladies. When did the idea of Second Hand Chic come about?

Kelly: I opened Second Hand Chic just over five years ago. I was kind of in between jobs and had just remarried. We had just moved into a new house and I realized I just had too much stuff! I had always collected vintage items and they fit perfectly into my little 1920's Sugar House bungalow. But my new husband and I bought a more modern rambler and my vast collections and shabby chic furniture just didn't work in our new space. The stuff sat in my garage for a few months until I got the idea of opening a shop. My husband was less than enthusiastic. "No one is going to want to buy your old junk, Kelly." Well, I didn't listen. I got a $10,000 advance on my Visa, rented a space and started moving my stuff out of the garage.
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Gavin: What was it like planning out the shop?

Kelly: I wanted to give the shop a boutique feel by creating vignettes and organizing the merchandise by color and theme. I also wanted to show customers how to mix different styles of furnishings together and inspire them to try this approach in their homes. The trend in home furnishings is towards a more ecclectic mix of well-loved furnishings gathered over time. I wanted the shop to reflect this.

Gavin: What was the first month open like and did it feel challenging bringing customers in?

Kelly: The response was very enthusiastic from the first day we opened. People were actually fighting over things! It was very exciting to have such a great response by the community... except for the fighting. We actually turned a profit our first year in business!
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Gavin: How did you end up in your current location on 9th East in Sugar House?

Kelly: Our first location was in the Millcreek area on 33rd South just above 9th East. The first two years, business was booming until UDOT started the road construction along 33rd South. The construction went on for the better part of a year and it was a challenge to keep the customers coming in. I had to cut my employee hours, which I hate doing, but we managed to hang in there. When our three year lease expired I found our current location in Sugar House and signed a five year lease. Business continued to be a challenge however because this all happened in the Fall of 2008 when the stock market crashed and so customers had suddenly closed up their pocket books. In addition to this the following Spring UDOT started working on 9th East. I felt at that point UDOT was out to get me.

Gavin: What has it been like in recent years, being part of Sugar House with the reconstruction up the road and when the development was halted?

Kelly: Let me just say how much I love being part of this little Sugar House community. I have lived in Sugar House for fifteen years and I just would not live any where else in Utah. This construction on Highland, we refer to it as Craig's Crater or Meecham's Meteor, was an unfortunate situation but in no way has "ruined" Sugar House as the media has portrayed. The community is still thriving and I have heard a new development is in the works for the corner of 21st South and Highland. I feel very positive about the future of business in this neighborhood.
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Gavin: The shop itself covers a wide range of material. Jewelry, crafts, art, fashion, furniture and housewares to name a few. Why the wide selection across so many areas?

Caitlin: We offer a large selection of merchandise to cater to a wide range of customers. Rather than sticking to one style we try to have something for everyone so each customer that comes in is able to find that special treasure that is perfect for them.

Gavin: What do you like about working at Second Hand Chic?

Kimberly: Working at Second Hand Chic feels creative. You get the sense of being in an art gallery but a touchable one where you can see that beauty is useful, practical and needed. Many people spend serious time just taking in the displays. The displays reflect the way old and new when put together, can create new life.
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Gavin: You're coming up on six years in business. How has it been so far, and are there any plans to expand or change things in the coming years?

Kelly: Business is brisk. The resale sector of the retail market is growing. This is an exciting business to be in. I think with the strong interest in recycling and the trend toward more thrifty lifestyles people are discovering that this is a great way to shop. Not only is it fun to shop like this but it is good for the environment. Going forward I would like to add more locally made crafts and fashions to the mix.

Gavin: Going into local material, what are your thoughts on our fashion scene, both good and bad?

Kelly: I think our local culture here in Salt Lake has always been one that has reflected originality and thriftiness. If you've been to the Deseret Industries on any Saturday afternoon you'd see that shopping for second hand clothing is all the rage. Utahns are a crafty bunch too, with the growing popularity of groups like Craft Sabbath, it shows that people are really embracing the value of handmade items. I have also noticed an increase in small apparel boutiques opening around town that offer locally made fashions. One that comes to mind is Salt Lake Citizen located downtown in Library Square. There is so much creativity in this town!
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Gavin: Do you have any other favorite shops you like to work with or shop from?

Kelly: A few that come to mind are Now & Again down on 500 East and Broadway. Abode is another on 17th South and 9th East and of course just across the parking lot from me is a new shop, The Vintage Butterfly. The owners of these shops and myself are pretty tight. We like to network and support each other. It's so important to communicate with the other shop owners in the community. I would like to see more of this in the future in the way of an organization for small resale shops set up for networking etc.

Gavin: What is your advise for someone wanting to open a shop of their own?

Kelly: Go for it! I would love to see more shops like this around town. I think they add so much to the community. But realize how much work is involved in owning your own shop. Some weeks I put in sixty hours or more! It's physically and emotionally demanding. Having a shop of your own is like throwing a big dinner party every day of the week.
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Gavin: What can we expect from both Second Hand Chic and yourselves the rest of the year?

Caitlin: More people seem to be shopping second than ever before. It's a growing trend. We will continue to offer great merchandise at reasonable prices.

Kimberly: When you shop at Second Hand Chic you will find a beautifully displayed store and a freindly staff to help you put together your own look.

Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote?

Kelly: We want our customers to check out our blog. We update it daily with design ideas, new merchandise and any specail events or sales we have going on. You can also email us at secondhandchicks@blogspot.com.


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