Publication Date: Friday, July 30, 2004
Mountain View's unique, old treasures
Mountain View's unique, old treasures
(July 30, 2004) Businesses selling used goods find a niche downtown
By Julie O'Shea
A unique looking scarf, a 1940s dining room set, a first edition of a classic bestseller -- there is a certain allure to selling old "treasures," just ask all the resale shop owners peppered throughout downtown Mountain View.
While the city has seen a lot of businesses close their doors over the past few years, many resellers claim they are thriving. This, they say, is due to customers looking for good deals during these trying financial times.
Added Rammurti Reed, co-owner of BookBuyers, a used bookstore: "New is boring. Anybody can do that."
Also, said Mary de la Vega of La Petite Chaise: "We believe that the older pieces have a history and a value in that they have survived all this time because they are well made."
De la Vega, who opened the antique furniture store on Castro Street last year, said her customers are usually not looking for anything new when they come in; they are looking for vintage, one-of-a-kind finds that you can't buy at the local mall.
Despite the Valley's dour economy, de la Vega said business has been booming.
Reed, on the other hand, said things have been tough for his Castro Street bookshop. Still, he can't imagine doing anything else.
"I've been in love with it all my life," said Reed, who opened his first store, "The Book Box," in Chicago in 1967.
Like a new bookstore, BookBuyers has a large inventory. From rare novels and used bestsellers to movie videos and an expansive music selection, the independent bookstore carries just about everything, only cheap.
Asked if there is competition from his neighbor, Books Inc., which sells everything new, Reed said "no," adding that, if anything, Books Inc. has helped bring BookBuyers more foot traffic.
The longtime bookstore owner said many people will browse in mainstream stores first and then head over to his shop hoping to find the same thing at a reduced cost.
"Cheaper -- that is the key -- it's cheaper," Reed said with a laugh.
Yvonne Kwong, owner of Forgotten Treasures, which opened on Villa Street just two months ago, said her success also has to do with selling inexpensive goods.
Kwong said she recently noticed the city has a lot of young mothers and decided that opening a used baby clothing store would be a hot attraction for the downtown scene. And she was right.
"My customers, they just walk in and love the place," Kwong said. "I'd have tons of competition if I was a high-end children's boutique store (because there are so many around.)"
Right now, though, Kwong said she's the only one selling reused children's clothes around these parts.
"I like to look for bargains myself," Kwong said.
Over at Plumeria, a women's consignment shop also on Villa Street, owner Camala Kolseth said part of the fun of resale is the "the hunt and being able to find treasures."
"I've always been really into fashion since -- forever," Kolseth said, adding the majority of clients love looking through the cloths racks for a good bargain.
Amid Plumeria's racks, one can find name brands, such as The GAP, Banana Republic and Versace, in mint condition. "It's about being able to find something really unique," Kolseth said. "I carry a wide range of things."
Kolseth said business has increased this year, thanks in part to her loyal customers talking her up to all their friends, but the store does gets a lot of walk-in business due to its location.
"New people come everyday," she said. "I'd say in Mountain View I have a niche. I personally love the downtown area just because of the diversity."
E-mail Julie O'Shea at firstname.lastname@example.org
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