Entrepreneur's home treasures under her nose - East Valley Tribune: At Home

Entrepreneur's home treasures under her nose

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Posted: Saturday, December 16, 2006 3:31 am | Updated: 4:38 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Ann Siner describes the style of her Paradise Valley home as eclectic Southwest-Mexican, but says it won’t stay that way long. “I change my style like I change my clothes,” she says.

“Right now it’s rustic, Mexican. My significant other calls it the Spanish Inquisition.”

Even though she likes to change and add things to her collection regularly, you won’t find this savvy businesswoman spending a fortune on home furnishings. That’s because she’s discovered a secret in home decorating that she’s turned into a successful venture.

Siner owns My Sister’s Attic, a furniture and home accessories store with three locations in Scottsdale and one in Phoenix. With a database of more than 4,500 consignors, there’s a steady stream of new finds coming through the doors — enough for herself and her clients.

“It doesn’t take too long to amass all this stuff,” she says.

My Sister’s Attic is just one part of her business, though. Siner left her position doing marketing for PetSmart more than 15 years ago to open a women’s clothes consignment store, My Sister’s Closet, in Chandler. She then branched off into men’s clothes and children’s items.

“I learned a long time ago that you have to give the customer what they want, not what you want,” she says. “We started with women’s clothes and we kept niching ourselves out. People would say to us, ‘I wish you took furniture, too,’ and so we decided to try it.”

In her stores you will find furniture for half price or less of what it sold for new. The price is determined according to the research of store employees. That means, for example, that Siner got her custom dining room table, made from an old wooden door, with a hand-carved base to match and the accompanying seating, for $700 even though it likely sold for $3,500 in stores.

Because she works with things that people are unloading, she spots what is going out of style with East Valley residents early.

“We’re seeing a lot of entertainment centers right now,” she says. “Everyone is switching to flat-screen plasma TVs, and they don’t have any use for those large centers.”

The policy at My Sister’s Attic is that the merchandise they accept be clean, free of scratches and dents, and not be dated. But if the entertainment center could have another use, they’re happy to accept it. Siner picked one up recently that she says she may use as a wine cellar.

She swears she doesn’t get special buying privileges just becausee she’s the owner.

“We have a rule at the stores that if you want something, you have to have another employee price it for you,” she says. “It’s just too easy to take advantage with all the great stuff we have coming in.”

It’s not uncommon, says Siner, for homes in the East Valley, especially in Scottsdale, to be put on the m arket and sold fully furnished. But bu yers often want to fill their new home with their own things, and will turn around as soon as they close escrow and get rid of everything.

That’s when they call Siner.

“We’ve gone to homes and brought back five truckloads of stuff, all beautiful stuff, a lot of it custom made,” s he says.

Once they realize the deals to be had through consignment, Siner says some people loosen up their approacch to decorating.

“We have one client who will completely redecorate her home every couple of years, and she does most of her shopping here.” When it’s less than half the typical investment, people can shop mmore often, she says.

Her favorite find?

“I think it’s the table and benches outside,” she says, referring to a long rectangular table with a rusted m etal basket weave detail, with matching be nches, that she’s placed under a ramada inn the backyard. “They’re just so perfect. But I might find something that replaces that soon, you never know.”

Resource

My Sister’s Attic

Three Scottsdale locations:

6208 N. Scottsdale Road (480) 607-4303

23417 N. Pima Road (480) 515-9708

23359 N. Pima Road (480) 473-0228

www.mysistersattic.com

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