Merchant of the Month
ABOUT THIS MONTH"S WINNER:
PICTURED: Co-Owners Jim Hollenbach and Karen Meyer
Sprouts Consignment, one the area’s new breed of contemporary consignment stores, is the Madison Chamber of Commerce’s winner of the Merchant of the Month Award for September.
Founded in 2009, Spouts Consignment of 250 Main Street is owned and operated by Karen Meyer and Jim Hollenbach. Meyer is also the executive director of the Madison Chamber of Commerce. Hollenbach is a past Chamber president and the owner of Hollenbach Family Chiropractic, which is located next door to Sprouts.
“We offer a huge selection of children’s and maternity clothing and shoes that are gently used,” Meyer said. “We also offer a large selection of games, books, toys, baby gear, décor and furniture.”
A recipient of a Merchant of the Month Award in 2009 for his chiropractic practice, Hollenbach says Sprout’s success is due the owners’ well established priorities: “A pleasant shopping experience, great prices and quality merchandise. Children’s clothing is our best selling product. We only accept the best gently worn items from our consignors,” he said.
The Merchant of the Month Award recognizes Madison businesses for their contributions to keeping the business district clean, inviting and prosperous through the upkeep and design of their properties.
“We are an easy-to-shop store, very organized and we don’t over crowd our display racks,” Hollenbach said. “If merchandise doesn’t sell within its designated timeframe, we have our consignors come and pick it up, or we donate it to those in need.”
Over the last several years consignment has been a growing segment of the retail market in Madison. Sprouts has led the way by devoting itself to a specific demographic that includes expectant mothers, newborns and young children. Consignment is mutually beneficially to the consigners, who obtain an avenue to market their unneeded items, and shoppers, who have a venue to purchase quality merchandise at affordable prices.
“It is extremely important to be organized and to create a shop-able atmosphere," said Meyer, whose resume includes merchandising for major department stores. “Our challenge is to fit as much merchandise into a limited space and to make it appealing at the same time,” she said.
“We are very particular about the way our merchandise is presented and we make sure items are easy to find,” said Meyer. “We pay attention to detail such as all hangers being the same style and facing the same direction. We also display clothing by their size. And cleanliness is vital to the way we do business.”
The Sprouts owners and employees are constantly “freshening up” the shopping experience at Sprouts both inside and out, according to Hollenbach. For example, merchandise in the toy room is frequently rotated so it’s accessible to consumers of all ages. Meyer credits fresh paint, improved lighting and a new window in the toy room to enhancing the boutique feel of Sprouts.
Consignment is a “wonderful challenge,” Meyer said. “Merchandise that is new to us arrives on a daily basis and turnover can be very fast. When you come into our shop you feel like you are in a boutique and not a stereotypical consignment store. We always do our best to accommodate both our consignors and customers.”
A new, inviting front door was recently installed. Strollers, highchairs, furniture and other large items are showcased on the front porch at Sprouts. “We use our sandwich board out front on the street strategically to let the customers know about our sales and what items are on the sales floor,” Hollenbach said. “We always have balloons flying to draw eye contact towards our store.”
Sprouts continued success allows it to contribute to the community in many ways. It donates “a great deal of merchandise” to domestic and international charities, Meyer said. “We donated one-hundred percent of our toy sales during a three month period to families affected by Super Storm Sandy. We also reached out to two different local families that had been subject to devastating fires that left them with nothing. We are part of a community which has become our family,” she said.
The owners of Sprouts, Hollenbach said, consider themselves “fortunate” because shoppers from Madison and surrounding towns prefer to shop locally and they remain loyal customers. “When you are a small business, you have to really step up on service and make that customer enjoy their experience. If not, then they may shop bigger chain stores where they don’t expect a pleasant experience,” he said.
“For me personally,” Meyer said, “it’s more than feeling proud to own a business in an area that has the best residents, dedicated business owners and business partners. I grew up in Madison as did my parents and their parents. It’s sort of in my blood. It’s truly all about caring about a community in its entirety. It’s a privilege to own a business in Madison, a town very close to my heart,” Meyer said.
Spouts is on the verge of improving its operations by rolling out a new consignment procedure that will benefit both consigners and shoppers. "We are implementing this new drop-off procedure in an effort to ultimately better manage the large amount of goods coming through our door," Meyer said. Sprouts is accepting consignment appointments now to bring gently used Spring clothing and shoes beginning on January 6, 2014.
The Merchant of the Month Award program is a joint endeavor of the Chamber of the Madison Downtown Development Commission. Fifty-two Madison businesses have the won the distinction, along with an engraved blue brass plaque and the blue Merchant of the Month banner that is most often displayed outside and travels between winners. The program was established in 2007.
The Chamber, founded in 1943, is an independent, non-profit organization of more than 170 dues-paying member businesses. Its mission is to promote the economic interests of its members and Madison through programs, events, education and advocacy. The Chamber can be contact at info@MadsionNJChamber.org, www.MadisonNJChamber.organd 973-377-7830.
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- Coviello's - July 2007.
- T&J Service Center, Inc. - Aug 2007.
- J.M. Egan - Sept 2007.
- Blush - Nov 2007.
- Traditional Okinawan Martial Arts - Dec 2007.
- Madison Car Wash & Detail Center - Jan 2008.
- Top Notch - Feb 2008.
- Statements - March 2008.
- Empire Szechuan - April 2008.
- Rose City Jewelers - May 2008.
- European Elegance - June 2008.
- Town & Country Home - July 2008.
- Main Street Submarines - Sept 2008.
- Madison Bicycle Shop - Oct 2008.
- Wild Things - Nov 2008.
- J&M Home & Garden - Dec 2008.
- Madison Honda - Feb 2009.
- Resto - April 2009.
- Hollenbach Family Chiropractic - May 2009.
- Museum of Early Trades & Crafts - Aug 2009.
- Rose City Collision - Nov 2009.
- Cramers Carpet One - Dec 2009.
- The Chocolate Rose Shoppe - March 2010.
- Hey Cupcake! - Nov 2010.
- Creighton Edward – Dec 2010.
- Tons of Toys – Jan 2011.
- Maison Décor – Feb 2011.
- d torr boutique – April 2011.
- Schnipper’s – May 2011.
- Doddlebugz – June 2011.
- Plaza Lanes – July 2011.
- Somerset Hills Bank – Oct 2011.
- The Provident Bank – Nov 2011.
- Takuma – Dec 2011.
- Starting Line Sports – Feb 2012.
- Gary’s Wine & Marketplace – March 2012.
- Drip Coffee – April 2012.
- DownTown Salon – May 2012.
- PC Problems - June 2012.
- Coccia Realty - July 2012
- Blue Ridge Mountain Sports - August 2012
- Upholstery Plus - September 2012
- Poor Herbie's - October 2012
- Hair We Are - November 2012
- Madison Vaccum - December 2012
- The Blue Purl - January 2013
- The Nautilus Diner - February 2013
- Hilltop Community Bank - March 2013
- April, May, June 2013 - none awarded
- Main Street Wine Cellars - July 2013
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- Sprouts Consignment - September 2013
- October 2013
- Madison Pet Shop - November 2013
- December 2013
- San Francisco Mercantile - January 2014