RAMSEY, N.J. -- Barbara Kenyon of Mahwah didn't dream of owning her own business when she opened the doors of Barbara Ann’s Consignment Boutique in Ramsey a decade ago.
Other people insisted.
"(Former) clients kept calling me and urged me to open a store. Like 50 people called me. I don’t know what would’ve happened if people didn’t call," the 64-year-old said of the time period in 2006 when she left the consignment shop she was managing.
"They were my clients for 10 years. We missed each other," she added.
“I feel like sometimes that is how God talks to you, because he can’t call you himself."
The loyal following paid off. Kenyon's consignment appointments are booked through September 2017 and she turns new people away daily.
"I just don't have the room," she said.
Over 1,400 people bring gently used clothing and accessories to Barbara Ann's Consignment Boutique. "People like to book in advance. Even stay at home moms, they have a specific lifestyle."
The hardest aspects of running the business are the long hours -- she's all hands-on and works 70 hours a week -- and outside events that affect sales.
"There are no projections. The store should be named crapshoot. You really can’t say what’s going to happen, when there's going to be another Sandy or a road closure," she said, noting that every little thing can affect "if people want a new shirt that day."
Her customer base is word of mouth and people keep coming back. "My staff is very smart and funny and I try to be good to them because people like the vibe here," she said.
She turns over 500 articles of clothing a week and keeps inventory fresh by running twice-year sales with markdowns as low as $5.
Anything that doesn't sell gets returned to the client or donated to Spring House in Paramus, a halfway residence for women in recovery.
The shop is the sole provider of clothing for the recovery home, which houses 37 women for 6-12 months.
"People can pick their stuff up if it doesn't sell but most people release their stuff to me so I can bring it to those girls and it’s a cool thing that makes me feel good."
She also gives leftover smaller "fancy dresses" to a school in Paterson for their 8th-grade prom.
Kenyon said expanding the business is not something she's interested in. "I definitely see it staying this way. The store next door has been vacant many times and I just don’t want to expand. I'm good with this as is."
Barbara Ann’s Consignment Boutique in Ramsey is located at 4 East Main St. and is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11-6, on Thursdays from 11 to 8, and on Saturdays from 10-4. Call 201-825-7888 for more information. There is no website or social media.
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