“None of the things that we are selling are going into a landfill,” said Julie Diltz, owner of Julie’s Upscale Resale. “On this tiny little peninsula where we live, we need to recycle and keep our landfills for things that can’t be.”
As her shop in Sister Bay has over 500 consigners, and her Facebook page has nearly 500 fans, she appears to be meeting this objective.
Now in her fifth season, “I do mainly home accessories and furniture,” Diltz said. “I will occasionally take a spectacular designer item, but I leave clothing to other enterprises for lack of room.
“I like to stick with what I know and like,” she continued. “A lot of my success comes from doing what I like.”
And she has liked this all her life. “I started at the Methodist rummage sales [in Green Bay] toddling behind my mother. By the time I was a teenager, I was trying on prom dresses to entertain the ladies, and as a young person I made my first purchase, a blue Fiestaware gravy boat!”
Perhaps opening a shop was inevitable. “This has always been in my blood,” she said. When she was young she found that she could afford better furniture by buying used pieces. “I’m happy I get to share [this realization] with other people, to show them how they can use second hand furniture, too.”
Six years ago she and her husband Greg moved from Sister Bay to Jacksonport. “Three girlfriends and I decided to have an indoor ‘garage sale’ in one of the friend’s empty shop spaces. Afterwards the other girls went back to fulltime jobs, and as my youngest was in high school, I was looking for something to do. I took over the shop in Country Walk [Sister Bay] and made it a fulltime resale business.”
She began taking consignments, and “little by little, it took off!” she said. After the first year she moved to her present space as “the rent was reasonable and I liked being in downtown Sister Bay.”
Not only does she sell directly from her shop, but also through photos of consignment items on her Facebook page. “People look at pictures and ask, ‘Will you save that for me?’” she said. She updates photos three or four times a week to display new merchandise that has come into the store. Sometime she sells directly from the photos and ships throughout the country.
“I’ve sent a fur coat to Chicago, a smoking stand to Colorado, artwork to Arizona,” she said, “as well as things closer to home, Green Bay and Milwaukee.”
An item that is accepted for consignment remains in the shop up to 60 days if not sold, with the seller retaining the right to withdraw it at any time. Diltz shares sales profits with the seller 50-50.
An additional green aspect of the business is a service Diltz provides for disposing of unsold consignments. The shop will donate those pieces to Feed My People for the thrift store, as proceeds directly benefit that food pantry; she will also donate unsold merchandise to Habitat for Humanity and St. Vincent de Paul.
Along with her recycled stock, Diltz offers for sale Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products, green in that they are phosphate free, “good for the lake and easy on hands as they are plant based,” she said.
While some retailers have suffered because of the downturn in the economy, “my business has increased,” she said. “People shop here that never would have darkened my doors in the past!” Some are selling items because of necessity, and some are trying to stretch their dollars by purchasing used high-end furniture. But others like the alternative to department store shopping, hence the popularity of Internet venues such as eBay, Craigslist, and Freecycle Door County.
“My goal,” Diltz said, “is to show people how they can use these things in a way that makes them every bit as good as stuff from a high-end furniture store. They can mix in pieces that were loved once before and it adds character to a room.”
Once Julie’s Upscale Resale did an entire home for a client. “He wanted it to look charming,” Diltz said, “and we got all of the furniture together for him and delivered it, right down to the dishes, the pots and pans, and the shower curtains. A fun project! I feel blessed to get up every day and go to a job that I love!”
Visit her store, open Monday through Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm, next to Northern Door Communications on Maple Drive in Sister Bay or at ‘Julies Upscale Resale of Door County’ on Facebook. Interested sellers should contact her at 920.421.0770 or via email at [email protected].