Ground Floor: Cedar Rapids consignment offers diverse assortment of treasures

Entrepreneur has grown business from five consignors to 68

George Ford
Published: December 3 2013 | 5:00 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 12:23 am in
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When Darcy Vondracek opened Treasures Then and Now in Cedar Rapids, she had five consignors. Four months later, she’s up to 68.

That means she is adding new furniture, home décor, antiques and collectibles to the consignment store’s inventory every day.

“I never know what’s going to come in and I don’t send away too much,” Vondracek said. “People have such diverse collections and I just try to make it all go together.”

Vondracek said she is having a lot of fun moving things around the two levels of her Mount Vernon Road SE shop.

“I get a lot of compliments on how things are arranged,” she noted. “People appreciate the organization.”

Vondracek lost her long-time job as a program manager to a reduction in force in July 2012. This past July, she opened Treasures Then and Now with the encouragement of friends, some of whom became her first consignors.

“I had to take the chance to do something different,” Vondracek said of the decision to open her own business. “I have a business degree and I’m glad I’m using it.”

In addition to filling a career void left by corporate downsizing, Vondracek said the shop serves as an outlet for her husband’s many woodworking projects.

“It all goes back to when we purchased an 1869 Stone City house at auction,” she explained. “We remodeled it and lived in it for 19 years. Dave took on lots of projects and became a meticulous woodworker.”

Vondracek and her husband shop estate sales to find his future projects. She said they especially are drawn to art deco period pieces, many of which eventually end up in the shop.

“I’m one of my best consignors,” she said with a laugh, noting that approximately 15 to 20 percent of the store’s inventory consists of her own estate sale finds and furniture that her husband has refinished.

Having previously worked for a supply chain technology company, it perhaps is no surprise that Vondracek has implemented a fairly sophisticated inventory system at her store.

All consigned items are tagged with a barcode, which makes it easy for her to track sales and payments due her consignors, who receive 40 percent of the proceeds.

The inventory system also specifies the manner of disposition for  items not sold during the three month consignment period. Vondracek reaches an agreement up front with consignors about whether unsold items will be returned to them or donated to charity.

Vondracek said one of the things she has enjoyed most about her business is hearing from her consignors about the items they bring in. She shares those stories with her customers.

“People like to have a little history about what they are buying,” Vondracek said. “These are people’s treasures.”

At a Glance:

  • Business: Treasures Then and Now
  • Owner: Darcy Vondracek
  • Address: 2821 Mount Vernon Rd. SE, Cedar Rapids
  • Phone: (319) 826-2360
  • Website: treasuresthennow.com

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