Better than New makes it work in a tough economy

Published 7:33 am Wednesday, July 21, 2010

While others looked for ways to protect themselves from the potentially damaging impacts of a troubled economy, Jenna Dahl and Kevin Jacobson came up with a business plan that could work during the tough times.

In June, Dahl and Jacobson opened the doors of Better than New, a second hand store, located in the strip mall on Eighth Street Northeast, that carries brand named clothes and home decor.

Dahl and Jacobson were inspired to open a store that would cater to the demands of customers who, because of the economy, weren’t willing to spend what major apparel outlets were asking.

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“That was my inspiration,” Dahl said, “to help people out by putting money back in their pocket.”

They key for the duo was to provide customers with more than affordable items — they knew their products had to be quality.

“That’s what people want,” Dahl said. “They don’t want to pay $40 for a new shirt when they can come here and pay $4.”

So far, the plan has worked.

Having been open for nearly two months, Dahl said business has been booming — even more than she had ever expected.

“It’s been great,” she said.

The location of the business, wedged between restaurants and other shopping outlets in the strip mall, has worked out well, Dahl said. With customers stopping in after a meal, or during an already intended shopping trip, Dahl has seen plenty of people from the community who have visited to take a look and drop off clothes. It also helps that the store is open seven days a week, Dahl said.

The store now has an inventory that includes women’s clothing, men’s clothing, children’s apparel and home decor, including furniture.

Items in the store are not limited to those found in the Austin area. Dahl and Jacobson have traveled throughout the country to pick up bargains for their operation. The two have ventured to New York and Minneapolis to purchase consignment items in bulk to sell at their Austin store.

Though a great deal of the merchandise comes from throughout the country, Dahl said she is open to customers bringing in quality used clothing and furniture. No appointments are necessary, and Dahl splits proceeds in half with those who donate items.

For questions regarding the store, contact Jenna at 507-355-2162.