A consignment business revives the old days of retailing with cash-flow help from Kabbage
Wes Dunn grew up in the retail business. He was the fifth generation of his family to work at their chain of hardware stores and lumber yards, which also included an internationally acclaimed toy store, first opened in Daytona Beach, Fla. in 1905. In the late 90s, as big-box retailers put a dent in their business, the Dunn family sold the stores, and Wes moved on to a financial services career.
But retailing was in his blood, and in 2013, Wes opened Dunn’s Attic & Auction House in Ormond Beach, Fla. “I wanted something that harkened back to the old days of retailing,” he says of the 12,000-square-foot consignment store selling everything from vintage books to furniture to fine art. Inside the store, Rosie’s Café offers $1 mimosas to shoppers as they browse.
Wes views consignments as a way to compete with big box and online retailers. “I have a product selection that wouldn’t be possible in any other store — almost 20,000 items that friends and neighbors have spent a lifetime collecting,” he says. Consignment stores can also be more profitable than traditional retailing: Wes earns 50 percent of sales for each item.
Season shopping affects cash flow
Like many Florida businesses, Dunn’s Attic has to get through the slow summer season before business picks up in the fall and winter. “We have to wait for the snowbirds to come south,” Wes says.
Cash flow becomes tight in the summer and Wes has to cover costs for 11 employees, from café staff to showroom salespeople, even when shoppers are scarce.
Wes tried to obtain traditional bank lines of credit but was turned down. “Even though we’ve been around for five years, we’re still a small business,” he says. “You’re only as strong as your balance sheet.” He learned about Kabbage from the TV show “Shark Tank” and applied for a line of credit. “It’s very easy to use,” he says. “I like that we can just dip into it the credit line when we need it.”
In addition to payroll and café expenses, Wes uses Kabbage to cover payments to consignors whose goods have sold. “On the 15th of every month, we cut as many as 500 checks,” he says — another expense that can tighten cash flow.
Investing in the business year-round
Using Kabbage, Wes keeps Dunn’s Attic running smoothly day to day while also maintaining the fun shopping experience. This summer, he spruced up the café by buying new picnic tables. “It might not be the best time cash-wise to do that, but we want to put our best foot forward in the fall,” Wes says.
Kabbage also helps Wes cover essential expenses like marketing. “Advertising might seem easy to cut back on, but that will hurt you,” he says. “Having Kabbage helps me keep our advertising going, knowing I’m not stretched for money.”
With the business growing at a healthy pace — as much as 22 percent annually — Wes is considering opening new locations. “We get emails every day from people who want to sell things, but our problem is having enough space,” he says. “If we can find the right space we’ll expand, but I have to be cautious. I want to offer the same quality shopping experience we have here.”