A neighborhood institution, Finders Keepers has been around for over 30 years. We spoke to the owner, Bonnie Kallenberg, and Merchandise Manager Cassandra Rayburn to learn the secrets of their success.
Why did you decide to get into the luxury consignment business?
Bonnie Kallenberg (BK): Finders Keepers actually began as a children’s consignment shop in 1984. From there we expanded into women’s and home décor. The 80’s and 90’s were a growth period for the resale industry and many people grew to accept the idea of recycling your closet and home décor for money. We experienced tremendous growth in the 90’s both in gross sales and in daily “in-coming” of merchandise. What we also experienced was growth in very valuable items, especially designer handbags. Our flagship store did very well with mid-line brands and pricing, however, mixing in very high end items within the mid-line labels proved to be a challenge. How do you sell an $800 handbag next to an $18 handbag? So we opened a store that handles higher end and designer items to offer them to our customers in an environment that will help sell them for the prices they should command. Our consignors have a lot of high end goods so this has been a good move for us.
Finders Keepers is very involved in the community. Could you speak about how important that is for you and your business and also talk about what organizations you partner with?
BK: We work with several charities. We have two groups pick up our donates, Step Up Society and Urban Street Ministries. We raise money via bag sales for New American Pathways, formally known as Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta and have employed 3 young men who came to this country as refugees. We have raised money to help send one of these young men to college and he is almost done. We furnished an apartment for a refugee family. We work with Global Village Projects’ school for refugee girls by raising money and awareness. Currently we are partnering with Re:loom, an organization that turns used clothing and fabric into handcrafted goods to sell, benefitting Atlanta’s homeless. We are working on an Earth Day project with them this year to raise awareness, sell their upcycled products and accept donations of clothing and fabrics for weaving. We are a local business helping local charities.
What sets your store apart from some of the other consignment boutiques out there?
BK: Finders Keepers has won Best of Atlanta in multiple publications over multiple years and has been in business 31 years. Our processes are efficient and we maintain high standards for our merchandise and for our integrity. We have mentored countless stores over the years and promote our industry, not just our stores. We are much stronger together than we are alone. Finders Keepers consists of 4 stores and meets the consigning needs of many: Clothing and accessory store for mid-line labels for men, women and plus sizes, a furniture and home décor store, a designer women’s boutique and a designer men’s boutique.
What are five pieces you are really excited about selling on SnobSwap?
Cassandra Rayburn (CR):
1. We have a retro Moschino Cheap & Chic jacket that has these envelope pockets… they’re so fantastic. The jacket is so saccharine sweet. I imagine Cher from Clueless wearing it on Valentine’s Day.
2. This Rebecca Minkoff canvas handbag with Trompe l’Oeil detail. I can’t get enough of Trompe l’Oeil. The style has serious roots in fashion and art history and continues to challenge conventional thought today.
3. One noteworthy detail about Finders Keepers Boutique is that we carry designer menswear! This 3.1 Phillip Lim shirt adds some pop to the classic white button down with powder coated buttons and contrast inlay on the collar. Every guy should have one of these.
4. Our showstopper is a Mary McFadden for Henri Bendel vintage couture gown. This dress combines delicate Fortuny style pleats with heavy beaded sleeves. The colors in the sleeves are so on trend now, which makes this particular gown from this line so versatile.
5. Coming up we will be listing some Grenson “Clara” Tasseled loafers. They are candy apple red and the stack is white. That contrast plus the play on business attire…and the quad tassels? You have to see them. Keep an eye out!
The beauty of consignment is that each piece you sell has a story. What is your favorite story behind something you sold?
BK: My favorite pieces are those designer pieces held onto for a long time. An older woman once brought us 100+ pieces that included impeccably kept top designer items from Ferragamo boots (I own one of the pairs she brought) to vintage Harttmann luggage, to a vintage velvet YSL cape and Chanel earrings. She had traveled the world and bought clothing and accessories along the way. That is my most memorable assortment of consignments ever brought in. This is the type of merchandise you don’t get every day. Those items were SnobSwap worthy, only that was before online sites like yours!
CR: My favorite drop off I ever opened was from our mid-line store, Finders Keepers Fashions. This consignor is a particular baseball player’s mother. Well, her son was traded to another team–and out from the bag I opened came piece after piece of Braves merchandise, some new, some custom made. Only until then did I make the connection…although I should have known because it’s a unique last name. It was some fun stuff for this fan to be able to look through!
What is the curation process like for you?
CR: We are located in Decatur, Georgia which is what they call an “intown suburb” of Atlanta. Basically, we’re right next to Atlanta, but the vibe changes when you cross into Decatur. People are more mellow, they’re enjoying their outings- there’s a little less hustle and bustle. Our boutique is reflective of our community. We have high tiered designer pieces alongside premiere activewear. Stilettos and Birkenstocks. I think in order to be successful at selecting merchandise you have to have a connection to what is happening locally- you have to be an insider.