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How Debbie Burgess takes a ‘second ride’ in her specialized consignment shop

By Ashley Feit    

When Debbie Burgess lost her high-paying, financial services job, she never dreamed it would lead her to

Debbie Burgess
Debbie Burgess

 opening her own business. Like many people, Burgess thought she would one day retire from her corporate America job and live comfortably ever after. She went through the emotions that most people experience when losing a long-time position, and then she started clearing out her closets.

Burgess started with all those wool business suits she had collected traveling the country as a training specialist working with financial institutions. She suspected that she would never need them again and gathered them up to consign. It was then that she started thinking about a new business concept in consignment.

“I thought about all the motorcycle apparel I saw in my closet, and that my husband had in his, and wondered what we could ever do with the clothes that are in good condition, but didn’t fit anymore,” Burgess explains. “Most consignment shops don’t really have a customer market for motorcycle apparel.”

A unique idea is born

After consigning her suits, Burgess went home and did some Internet research. She could not find a single consignment shop anywhere in the country that specialized in motorcycle apparel. She did find the National Association for Resale and Thrift Shops (NARTS), and she found it just in time to attend its 25th annual conference in Scottsdale, AZ.

Burgess attended the conference as a future business owner and pitched her plan to a few successful shop owners. She wanted to validate her concept since her initial research didn’t reveal another shop like it in the country.

Her concept was centered on her desire to do something for the motorcycle enthusiasts, who, like herself, are always so willing to help others. By giving them a shop where they could recycle those expensive motorcycle apparel items that no longer fit, they could get part of their investment back and help the planet. It would be a small, local solution toward the growing problem of post-consumer textile products contributing to our landfills.

Burgess also wanted to do a few things different for her customers such as allowing them to choose the charity that their unsold items would go to.

By the end of the four-day conference she was known as the “motorcycle lady,” and she also knew that her idea had been validated.

Developing the plan

After confirming her idea at the conference, Burgess returned to Jacksonville ready to bring her idea to life. She contacted the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the University of North Florida where she attended workshops and was introduced to a Certified Business Analyst for guidance and idea sharing.

As Burgess was putting together her advisory team, she discovered, much to her surprise, that most all of them shared her same passion for two wheels and the open road. The attorney she partnered with, the insurance agent she’s using, and several people at her bank all ride motorcycles.

“It was great to know they were all motorcycle enthusiasts too. It’s hard to fail when you have a team that believes in what you are doing and shares your passion,” says Debbie.

Location, location, location

Burgess worked on implementing her business plan and set a budget of $25,000, which she pulled from her personal savings and her 401(k). After developing her budget, she began the most difficult part of her new business set up— finding the right location.

“Securing a location was the most challenging part of starting my business,” explains Burgess. “I wanted to be in Mandarin close to my home, and I wanted the location to have safe, easy access for motorcyclists.”

She didn’t have a hard time finding a location, but rather in negotiating an acceptable lease.

“You would think that with all the vacancies in strip malls, this wouldn’t have been so difficult,” Burgess says. “The issue was that I didn’t want to sign a multi-year lease until I knew that my business would work.”

With no examples or history to base her unique business on, Burgess didn’t know what to expect for the interest and profitability of her shop. She didn’t want to get tied into a long lease. After much looking and negotiating, she finally secured a location and a lease to her liking.

Setting up shop

With a lease signed for 2nd Ride Around Consignment Shop in Mandarin, Burgess began working on building the inventory for her shop. She had to do this quickly because a commercial lease agreement requires the business to be active within 30 days of signing the lease, but she was able to negotiate a little extra time. Burgess contacted all of her friends and fellow riders for consignments and shopped garage sales and other stores. She invested about $2,000 of her budget in her initial inventory.

The largest investment for the shop was in the store set up. Burgess spent around $10,000 for furniture and fixtures, and she looked for short-cuts to save money. For example, she used shower curtain hooks for hanging jeans and bought them on markdown all over town. Then, she contacted the manufacturer to purchase them wholesale.

She also visited several motorcycle dealers in town to let them know what she was doing. She asked them to donate posters to help her decorate the inside of the shop. This obviously saved in some decorating expenses, but, more importantly to her, she wanted all motorcycle enthusiasts to feel welcome in her shop, regardless of what brand of motorcycle they ride.

Getting the word out

With a new shop, a sign, consigned inventory, all Burgess needed was customers, and it didn’t take long to find them.

“Motorcyclists are a tight-knit group. Word of mouth is very powerful with all the connections of biker events and groups,” says Burgess. “I was counting on this, along with doing personal presentations at motorcycle riding groups’ monthly meetings. I didn’t have an advertising budget.”

After soliciting her friends and connections for consignments, Burgess had already developed interest in her business. Then she started networking through all of the motorcycle associations, shops and events across town, and people started coming in.

One of her first customers was a relative of an employee at Channel 4. The customer passed the word on and the connection resulted in a story on The Morning Show shortly after 2nd Ride Around Consignment Shop opened.

“I had a lot of people come in after that spot ran, and they said they heard about it on the news,” says Burgess. “You just never know who is going to walk into your store and what they will do for you.”

Re-cycle business is rolling

After less than four months of business, Burgess has more than 55 consignors at 2nd Ride Around Consignment Shop.

“What a ride this has been! I knew it would work; however, I never dreamed it would take off like it has,” Burgess explains. “If it keeps going this way, I’d like to start looking at more locations.”

The idea for more locations has always been part of the big picture for Burgess. “I’d like to offer more locations, and one day, take the concept nationwide with franchise opportunities.”

 

Sidebar 1

2nd Ride Around Consignment Shop

11018 OId St. Augustine Road, Suite 111

Jacksonville, FL 32257

904-379-9167

www.2ndridearound.com

2nd Ride Around Consignment Shop accepts: men and women’s motorcycle apparel, jeans,

T-shirts and shoes, as well as motorcycle themed purses, jewelry and home décor items. Consigned items are on the sales floor for up to 60 days. The sales price is based on competitive market price and brand research. Consignors will receive 40% of the selling price excluding sales tax. Items that do not sell at the end of the 60 days can be picked up by the consignor or donated to the charity of the consignor’s choice. 2nd Ride Around works with Hubbard House, Humane Society, and the Vietnam Vets.

 

 

Sidebar 2

A Passion for riding

Debbie Burgess wasn’t always a motorcycle enthusiast. It wasn’t until she met her husband, Jim, that she got the riding fever.

“I can remember seeing folks on motorcycles back in the ’90s when I was commuting to my corporate job in downtown Jacksonville,” she explains, “and I would think that they must be nuts doing 65 miles per hour on a motorcycle.”

Burgess met her husband in 2002 and he liked to ride; by 2005 she was riding her own motorcycle. “I quickly started enjoying riding, even when I was on the back. There is something about being on a motorcycle, with the wind blowing through your hair, that allows you time away with no worries. That’s what gets you hooked on the lifestyle.”

They both enjoy riding so much that they rented motorcycles on their honeymoon and rode the coastal highway in California. “It was a great thing for us to share on our honeymoon—a common interest that we both have a passion for.”

When she lost her job, Burgess’ husband suggested doing something she would enjoy this time around. As she began to think of what kind of job she would enjoy, riding her bike with Jim came to mind, but she knew no company was going to pay her to do that. She began to think about how she could work with people who shared her passion for riding. She knew she’d had enough of the corporate traveling life—flying all over the country all week and only home for the weekends.

“I thought it would be a given success story because it would be owned and operated by motorcycle enthusiasts that understand the lifestyle,” Burgess said. “I wanted to make a difference by doing something for all the bikers that are always willing to give to others. At the same time, I could help our local economy by opening an independently-owned store in my Mandarin community.”

Ashley Feit provides writing and public relations services to small business. She can be reached at acfeit@att.net.


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