MONCTON– Finding inexpensive, secondhand clothes for women and children is about to get easier than ever.
Two full-time moms who are also part-time entrepreneurs are spicing up the consignment business by making it mobile.
Jenna Morton and Cary Beaumont have co-founded Grapevine Events, a pop-up consignment business specializing in products for women and children. They’re launching their first event for women’s clothes on Nov. 5, at the Lion’s Community Centre in Moncton, with plans in the works for more events in Saint John, Halifax and P.E.I in the spring.
“We don’t have a storefront. We go from community to community, and rent spaces for two days and host events,” says Morton. “We have the clothing rack and the tables and the signs and the change room and all that setup. We arrange everything as you would see in a store. So everything is arranged by size, not by the seller.”
Since they don’t have to worry about storing inventory, Morton says their registered sellers can bring as many items as they wish.
“So someone who wants to really clear out their house. They really can do it,” she says.
“[For this upcoming sale], we have 50 women registered with us to sell their clothes on consignment … most people are telling us that they are bringing a hundred different items for sale,” Morton says.
Morton says Grapevine Events lets the seller set the price and the base commission rate for a sale is 60 per cent, but if a seller volunteers, he or she will get 80 per cent commission. Volunteers help Grapevine set up and tear down the pop-up shop event.
Morton says Grapevine Events will help mothers or people with busy schedules find time to shop.
“It is not just a picture online. It is not going back and forth with someone talking to them about what the quality is. You can look at it,” she says. “You can decide whether or not it is what you want. If it is not, there is probably another one next to it, that maybe will be the quality that you are looking for and the price that you are looking for.”
Morton says some volunteers are not sellers. They volunteer to get to shop early, which is an advantage if someone is looking for a high demand item, like a formal dress or wedding gown.
“When the sale is finished, the seller has the option of coming to the event to redeem anything that didn’t sell,” says Morton. “If they are happy to donate anything that didn’t sell, we have a [non-profit] organization that comes in and picks everything up and takes the donation away.”
For the upcoming sale in Moncton, Harvest House Atlantic will pick up the donations.
Morton and Beaumont met through Moncton Multiples, a non-profit support group for parents with twins or triplets. They bonded over the fact that they both have twin boys. After four years of working together at the non-profit, they decided to start a business that would allow them to be more involved in the community.
“We wanted to do something to feel that we were back in the professional lives we used to be in but still have a lot of flexibility, that we can be home when the school bus gets here,” Morton says.
Their business idea was inspired by the consignment sales Moncton Multiples organizes as fundraising events, which specialize only in children products. Beaumont and Morton came up with the idea of Grapevine Events when they saw the demand of people wanting to sell other kinds of products, such as woman’s clothing.
Morton says it is not hard to start a business in the Maritimes because she believes people here love small, interesting businesses that have a lot of potential, like Grapevine Events.
“I think a lot of people sometimes get a little scared of the idea of saying that ‘oh I can be a business owner,’ ‘oh I can start this,’ ‘oh I can do this,'” she says.
“And you know, yes some business take a lot of start-up capital and a lot of financing, but there are a lot of great ideas that don’t.”