view counter

Bay Weekly Spotlight on Business: Second Wind Consignments

Success on the rebound

Second Wind consigner Teri Leisersohn and employees Beth Rogers and Peggy L'Hommedieu.

In 2008, she knew the winds were changing, so she started writing a business plan. In April of 2009, after 25 years with Annapolis Lighting, her position was cut.
    The nation was entrenched in the worst economy since the Great Depression, but Teri Leisersohn took her plan — and a huge leap of faith — and started her own business.
    Leisersohn had an early start working with her sisters and brothers in the family business, a Catalina yacht dealership. As a teenager, she answered phones, quoted prices and learned to follow through on promises. She also credits her former bosses at Annapolis Lighting, Preston and Carlotta Clark for teaching her good business practices, money management and customer service.
    Now, she was putting all those influences to work for her.
    As a new owner, Leisersohn had to weigh the cost of each purchase. Spending $1,000 for an exterior sign was a huge expenditure she wanted to avoid. But she realized it also identified her and brought people in. Up went a sign reading Second Wind Consignments, Home Furnishings and Marine Accessories.    
    “The inventory that I had in the store on day one was very thin,” Leisersohn remembers. At an auction, she bought “just enough inventory for the space to give people the idea of what I was trying to do.”
    An informational website and fliers at local stores and restaurants alerted potential consigners to clean out their attics and garages. Friends and relations pitched in, visiting auctions and yard sales to maintain inventory during slow periods. Especially helpful was best friend Holly Miles.
    “Holly drove down from Annapolis several times a week to help me with merchandising and to help keep me focused,” Leisersohn remembers.
    Advertising in Bay Weekly helped to get the word out as well.    
    In 2009, the nation was discovering a new economy. After generations of buying the biggest, the best and the most expensive, folks were seeking “the gently used,” “the second hand” and “the budget conscious.”
    “The store took on a life of its own,” Leisersohn says.
    Second Wind gathered all kinds of things: marine paraphernalia; old tools, to bring the men in; dishes from china to pottery, kitchen wares for every task, some you’ve never imagined; furniture you’d be proud to bring home; and all kinds of stuff you never knew you needed till you saw it. Second Wind was full of stuff, yet it all looked good. More like a boutique than a second-hand shop.
    After only a year, Leisersohn outgrew her first shop, moving to a bigger space on the corner of the little strip center in Deale. Friends, family, consigners and customers helped her move on Sunday and Monday, when the store would normally be closed.  She was open for business on Tuesday morning without missing a beat.
    Of course what you want today will be gone tomorrow. That’s an incentive to buy and a condition for doing business in a shop like this, where turnaround is the key to success. Managing a constantly moving inventory coming in out of the blue took a powerful software system. One of Leisersohn’s first investments was an upgraded accounting system for her inventory, sales and pay out.
    More than six years later, with 2,000 consigners now on her books, that accounting system has been upgraded more than once.
    Just as important as a good accounting system was the reputation for integrity Leisersohn was building. Consigners have to feel safe in leaving their merchandise and trust that there’ll be a check in the mail when the items sell.
    Leisersohn takes that responsibility to heart. She prides herself in running a business that contributes to her consigners’ income.
    “I’ve never been late in paying. Every month I go to the post office with a box of 200 checks in envelopes and say, it’s payday.”
    Second Wind has four and a half stars on Facebook reviews and four stars on Yelp.
    Many odd and unusual items pass through Second Wind Consignments: alligator skulls, kayaks, even cast-iron kitchen sinks. Consigners may not know the value of their items. A small painting in for consignment was not, Leisersohn realized, a replica. She recommended that the owner contact an Annapolis gallery for appraisal. That advice earned her consigner an appraisal — and sale — of $2,000.
    Second Wind has many male customers who go right to her man corner, where she displays old tools and such. (Women, she notes, shop there, too.) When she is told she needs more inventory, she says “Go home, clean out your garage and bring it in.”
    When items fail to sell, consigners may not want the merchandise returned. Those items go in Second Wind’s twice-a-year Charity Sale, with proceeds donated to local non-profits including South County Assistance Food Bank at St. James Parish and Energy Assistance at St Vincent de Paul at Our Lady of Perpetual Health. The next Charity Sale runs from July 23 to 30.
    Leisersohn did what so many of us only dream about. She found the courage to step into a dark arena. The unknown. She put everything on the line — her money, hopes, dreams, future, heart and soul.
    “We’ve made it work,” she says.
    And when you visit, ask about the purple chair.

Second Wind Consignments: Deale; 410-867-0480.  Check ­Facebook every Friday for photos of new inventory.