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September 1, 2012

Shop Talk: The Green Giraffe

The Daily Star

---- — Shop Talk is a weekly column featuring locally owned and operated businesses. This week, we talk to Jackie Carey of The Green Giraffe in Unadilla.

How long have you lived in the area?

I’ve lived here about 25 years. But I’ve been coming up here all my life. My mother was from Walton.

Tell me about your business:

The Green Giraffe is an antique and consignment shop. We consign just about everything. We are pretty eclectic in our mix. Everybody collects differently. (Consignors) bring in things from their parents and their own childhoods, things that you don’t see anywhere else. We run the gamut. We sell a lot of antiques, but not everyday.

Consignment shops (are experiencing) national growth. Today people are more frugal. We are not as much of a materialistic society. It is evident in the amount of consignment shops that have popped up. It’s a great way to get rid of stuff. It’s environmentally friendly — instead of throwing stuff away, (people) consign it. We keep stuff in circulation.

How did you get started in this line of work?

I’ve always been an antique collector. When I was a child I went to flea markets with my grandfather. I love doing what I do. I worked in corporate America for 18 years, and I love being my own boss. I found what I love in life, working-wise.

Where do you see this business in five years?

I’m starting to branch outside of the shop. I’m starting to do estate tag sales. In some cases, a person has died, and in others, older people are moving to smaller living quarters. A lot of people get overwhelmed. We do it all. We’re there for you in many ways, first and foremost to help you get rid of your stuff. We stage it — set it up and put it out. We price it. We make it almost like a store in your home or a couple of days. We conduct the sale. We advertise in newspapers and on the Internet. We charge the sales tax and send it in. Also, we make recommendations of other ways to get rid of stuff (that doesn’t sell).

Also, I see the business growing in the types of things that we have (for sale). The Green Giraffe will grow and branch out.

What have you learned form your work?

I’ve learned a lot of good life lessons. I’ve met a lot of people and everybody and everything has got a story. I’ve learned that being courteous and understanding and fair will get you far. The customer has a dilemma and you want to help them as much as you can. Browsing in my shop is good therapy!

I had a little girl come in with her grandmother, and when she saw a rotary telephone, she asked her grandmother, “How do you use this?” There’s great history to be learned from the old stuff.

It’s nice to be able to introduce the young people to other technology (from the past). I can see they appreciate it.

I’m not going to be a millionaire in this business, but I love doing what I do. I’ve made a tremendous number of friends of all ages.

What is the most challenging part of what you do?

The most challenging part is the amount of inventory that we get. It’s hard to juggle it. It’s a constant flow. Also, it is challenging to figure out with to do with stuff we don’t sell. We donate it, but we have to decide who will benefit most from the donation. I don’t believe in putting stuff in the landfill. We don’t call it junk; we call it stuff. Everything has a purpose. We are a stuff society. I love stuff! Also, it’s long hours — six days a week, easily.

How do you define success for your business?

People like me — it’s word of mouth. If I have a bad reputation, it doesn’t do anything for my business. People compliment me on my shop. Today I’m still here after two-and-a-half years. That’s success to me.

What are the advantages of doing business in this area?

I think word of mouth spreads a lot better, because it’s still a small area. It’s simple, back-to-basics.

What are the disadvantages?

There’s not a lot of people around here, as in the city, where there is constant (business) traffic.

What sets you apart from your competitors?

The biggest thing is the variety of things I take (for consignment). I can take antiques, also, because I am educated and have connections in antiques.

What advice would you give to someone trying to enter your field of work?

Definitely, you want to connect with another person in the business. You need to learn about things like storage and rotating inventory. Learn as much as you can.

The Green Giraffe Antiques & Consignment Owner: Jackie Carey 54 State Highway 357, Unadilla www.greengiraffe