As the end of the year draws nigh, discussions about what the next year will look like are taking place at dinner tables, over late night cookies, in the Twittersphere, and beyond. How have we grown and been shaped over the course of the last year? How will that affect our trajectory for the next? And how on earth will we condense the local zeitgeist into a 2016 hashtag?
As I’ve found myself in these conversations, #Hustle2015 is a recurring term of endearment used to describe the last year. It’s kind of silly, and the dilemma over a 2016 hashtag can seem like a pseudo-problem we’ve invented for ourselves (hashtags weren’t developed until 2007). But in my evaluation of the last year, one of the things that has challenged me to grow, bonded me with fellow Jacksonians, and made me feel more connected to this town is the sheer amount of hustle that’s going on here. In the last year I’ve seen entrepreneurs, artists, students, and career men and women alike working hard to achieve something—to achieve some new dream or maintain an existing one. Our city is full of people hustling toward a better future for a better self.
In the last year I’ve found two new friends in Landon and Stacy Preston, who, let me tell you, know how to hustle. Landon throws a brunch like no one I know (we’re talking bagels made from scratch). Stacy once, while getting mugged in Quito, Ecuador, scared off her attackers by yelling at them in fluent Spanish. With these powers (among others) combined, the Prestons’ entrepreneurial spirit and hustle has manifested itself in Simple Consignments.
“Consignment shopping is buying used clothing, or it could be new clothing—preowned clothing—from other people. It doesn’t have to be clothing. It can be accessories, furniture, toys,” Stacy explains to me as we snack on cookies at their dinner table.
“Would you differentiate, though, consignment shopping from Goodwill?” Landon asks.
“I would say consignment shopping has been gone through. It’s been looked over and is in very good to excellent condition,” she says.
Stacy has been consigning for years, and several years ago friends began asking her to consign for them in public sales.
“I had just really learned the system well,” says Stacy, “and had been selling things for so long that I knew brands, and I knew what they would sell for, and I knew kind of what the demand was. I found that once I found how to price things, I could sell anything. . . . There was one year I sold so much stuff online I paid for our Christmas and a trip to Disney World.”
The profitability of Stacy’s consigning and the Prestons’ desire to begin a business together generated the conversation about what a business together might look like, but the reality of Simple Consignments was born on a Sunday afternoon as the Preston family was headed home from church.
“We were passing the old T.J. Maxx,” Landon says, “and they were having their going out of business sale, so I just pulled in—I didn’t even tell [Stacy] what we were doing—I just pulled in and was like, ‘This is it.’ So I walked in, they had all these racks and all this stuff, and I said, ‘I’ll take $1,000 worth of racks.’”
Stacy begins giggling as Landon tells the story. “He came back to the car and was like, ‘We’re buying this,’ and I was like, ‘What? You’re crazy!’” she laughs.
“My whole thing was, if we don’t do some tangible something that will motivate us, we’re never going to do this,” Landon explains. “I felt like we just need to do this, like either we were going to do this or we never would. So we just bought it.”
So with $1,000 worth of clothing racks in their garage to motivate them, the Prestons began to hustle. Stacy researched other consigners looking for examples of full service consignment shopping, but couldn’t find any other models for what they hoped to do. They wanted to offer a different approach to consigning, a simpler one.
“At your normal consignments, you are in your house, you tag all of your items, you price your items and take it to that sale, and they sell it for you,” Stacy says. “We don’t offer it the same way. What we’re doing is you bring us your items, we tag, we price, and we hang it, display it, and we’re going to set up a sale and sell it for you.” She explains that at other consignment sales you also need to buy your own supplies: tags, safety pins, hangars, etc. “So we’re like a VIP consigning. That’s what I kind of use to describe it.”
The Prestons believe this means not only less work for those who want to sell, but also a more pleasant experience for those who want to shop.
“It’s going to look different than other consignment sales,” Stacy says. “I’ve tagged everything, and everything is uniform. It’s organized. It’s very put together.”
Landon says, “And it’s picked through to the same quality. At some of the other sales, it’s not the same quality. You may give her a bag of 100 items, and she may only pick fifty because the other fifty are not up to the standard.”
“I’m going to sell everything I can,” Stacy assures, “but if you give me stained clothes, I’m not going to put them out. So I have control over what it looks like, which provides a better quality and more of an upscale feel to consigning when you shop there.”
Simple Consignments is still in its early stages. The first sale is set for March, and in the meantime the Prestons are hard at work together preparing for the sale and mailing boxes to people who register at their website. The boxes include everything you need to participate in the sale, including bags for your items, which can either be picked up from your home or dropped off at designated locations and times. Currently Simple Consignments is only accepting children’s clothing, toys, accessories, and maternity wear, although they’re open to expanding in the future.
In addition to being a good excuse to spend time together, the Prestons are hopeful that their business will thrive in Jackson and be life-giving to their family and community.
“It’s a great place,” Stacy says of Jackson. “We’ve been here for fourteen years, so we obviously love Jackson and have stayed here and had a family here. And actually, I feel like because we live in Jackson is why we were able to start Simple Consignments. We’ve been here long enough to know the community, to know the people, to know what people want and what maybe has a chance to succeed here. So I feel like we were able to start this business because we live in Jackson. . . . If we lived anywhere else, I don’t know that we would have taken this on.”
“We really want [our kids] to see that work is good, and it can be enjoyable, and you can do it within your family and it be non-stressful,” Landon says. “I want them to see that work is not only something that you do, but it’s fun, that it can be beneficial to other people. Hopefully that’s the aim of our work—that it’s life-giving. It’s procreative. It gives other people something. . . . Simple Consignments does, we hope, make people’s lives more simple.”
Josh Garcia is a commercial photographer who landed in Jackson in 2008. With a B.A. in English from Union University in his back pocket, he’s abandoned other adjectives for “home” when describing this city. He enjoys reading, writing, photography, and cultivating community around the dinner table. #INFJ