Consignment shops are a common feature of the commercial landscape in Fort Dodge and north central Iowa. KaLeiDasCope Gifts, 925 Central Ave., which opened for business March 4, while part of that genre, has adopted a business strategy that differs from many such ventures.
Owner Melissa Hansen has created a new business with a very specific focus.
"We have a consignment shop," she explained, "but we are trying to specialize in the handmade, home-crafted items that people in the local community make. We do have a couple vendors that their stuff isn't handmade, but I would say probably 95 percent of it is all handcrafted by people in our community."
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Melissa Hansen, owner of KaLeiDasCope Gifts at 925 Central Ave., contemplates her next move while looking over a colorful set of chess pieces in her shop.
The 22 consignors currently represented at Hansen's store provide the store with an eclectic inventory.
"We've got lots of baby items," Hansen said, reflecting on what is currently being offered for sale. "We've got tons of children's clothing. We've got jewelry. We've got woodworking. We've got cutting boards. We have rolling pins, picture frames, rustic decor."
And that only begins to capture the diversity. On a walk through the store one sees wooden frames, signs, window panes, vinyl graphics, tutus, hair bows, sock monkeys, appliqued fleece blankets, jewelry, Rada cutlery, rag rugs, place mats, rag bag purses, hair clips and much, much more.
Hansen said her approach to the consignment arrangement with vendors has two parts.
"We have a minimal monthly fee just to have the stuff in the store," she said. "And then I do a 10 percent commission based on what their monthly sales are. The fee helps us pay the rent, pay the insurance, advertising, that sort of thing. ... We went with two different price ranges. We've got a $15-a-month price range for someone who has just a small amount of stuff. And then, we went with a $30-a-month rental for those that have a larger amount of stuff."
Included in the store's offerings is some of the jewelry Hansen creates herself. She said her own background in the creative world inspired her to launch this business.
"I came from a family that we were all very into crafts," she said. "Growing up, we did a lot of flea markets. I've been crafting since I was a little kid. ... I've always struggled with my jewelry ... finding vendor shows or different places to take my stuff without having to pay a huge fee."
Hansen said KaLeiDasCope Gifts is intended to address that need locally.
An additional motivation, she said was the desire to have a career that coupled her love of crafting with an opportunity to interact with people.
"I guess I've always been a people person. It is kind of nice seeing everybody," Hansen said. "I've always wanted to have that 'cool' 'fun' job where I could enjoy what I do."
Though KaLeiDasCope Gifts has only been open for a short time, Hansen said the public response has been good.
"We've been pretty successful for the last month," she said. "We're constantly adding new stuff. Most of our vendors rotate some of their items."
If a shopper doesn't see precisely what is desired already on display, Hansen said many of the vendors are very receptive to special orders.
Her message for potential customers is quite straightforward.
"We've got items that you can't buy at Walmart or Target," Hansen said. "We have more of that craft fair, unique item."
About the owner
Hansen is originally from the Rolfe area. She graduated from Pocahontas Area High School in 1991 and subsequently studied at Iowa Central Community College. Her professional life has included operating home-based businesses.
Volunteer work to help the fight against cancer is also a priority for Hansen. She said some of the items offered for sale in her store are part of her fundraising efforts in that regard.
Hansen has four children. Their first names provided the inspiration for the unusual name she adopted for the business.
"I came up with the KaLeiDasCope because it is a combination of all four of their names. The 'Ka' is for Katie. The 'Le' is for Lexi. The 'Da' is for Dakota. The 'Co' is for Colton."