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Consignment 1st moving into three more markets

Local chain expands its footprint by using big-box spaces, selling franchises

Charlotte Business Journal - by Fred Tannenbaum Staff writer

photo SEAN BUSHER
Dave and Debbie Hayes, who hope to expand Consignment 1st to as many as 100 stores within 10 years, will soon add franchised stores in Columbia and Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Greenville, N.C.
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Resale-store chain Consignment 1st will take a big step next month in its strategy to expand throughout the Southeast -- and eventually nationwide.

The nine-store, Matthews-based company, which typically uses vacant big-box retail space for its operations, is slated to open a 30,000-square-foot store in Columbia, S.C., on June 16.

By the end of the year, Consignment 1st also will add a store in Greenville, N.C., and a Myrtle Beach, S.C., store should follow in January, says Dave Hayes, who owns the company with his wife, Debbie.

All three stores will be franchised operations, Hayes says.

Meanwhile, the company also is targeting Raleigh, Durham and Atlanta for possible store locations.

The Hayeses, who founded Consignment 1st in 1986, want to expand to 100 stores within 10 years. "We're going to market ourselves as 'America's new way to shop,'" Hayes says.

Consignment 1st sells everything from four-poster beds to life-size Laurel & Hardy figures. But the Columbia store also will include about $150,000 worth of overstocked furniture from Drexel Heritage.

"We have to redefine ourselves with the new," Hayes says.

He and his wife operate their 14,000-square-foot flagship store at 9601 Independence Pointe Parkway. They began selling franchises in 2002, enabling Consignment 1st to add stores in the University area, Gastonia, Huntersville, Pineville, Rock Hill and Greensboro, along with Lynchburg and Roanoke, Va.

The Consignment 1st principals believe the company can expand quickly and at a low cost by moving into large, empty retail space.

The Columbia operation will be housed in a former Bassett Furniture store that's been repainted and remodeled. The renovations are so extensive, they've prompted an unusual concern for Hayes: "I'm afraid our store in Columbia is going to be too good," he says. "It looks like a mini-Belk's."

QUICKINFO

CONSIGNMENT 1ST

Founded: 1986

Principals: Dave and Debbie Hayes

New markets: Adding stores in Columbia and Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Greenville, N.C.


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