Daily News photo/JOHN EBY Kris Lamphere added this American-made product line, Melissa and Doug durable wooden puzzles. Who kNew Consignment also sells Chieftain gear in partnership with Dowagiac Athletic Boosters.

Bizline: Who kNew Consignment

Published 9:00pm Monday, May 21, 2012

Name of business: Who kNew Consignment. The name means, who knew I’d be doing this? Who knew in Dowagiac there would be such a cool store? Who knew you could save so much money on great-looking clothes? Kids always need clothes and parents always need good deals.

Name of owner: Kris Lamphere

Address of business: 119 S. Front St., Dowagiac

Date business opened: April 7, 2007, in the former Majerek’s. Way back, her location housed women’s wear of The Fair, a block-long department store.

Where are you from originally? Chicago. Her family had been coming to Big Crooked Lake for four generations. Lamphere has lived in Dowagiac since 1995 since deciding to stay where they played. She used to be an independent contractor and regional manager for 10 years with Books are Fun, a division of Reader’s Digest, covering a 15-county area — 12 in Michigan, three in Indiana.
She sold children’s books and educational toys to parents and staff at child care centers and preschools. She was on the road servicing displays, vendor fairs, teacher fairs and conferences. Who kNew is her first storefront.

What type of business do you operate — what you sell, services provided? I have always been a big resale shopper just because of the value — especially kids’ clothes. I truly believe in reduce, reuse and recycle and try to live that philosophy. Looking to start a business, I knew I wanted to stay local and felt a kids’ resale store would be a good fit. Consignment gives back to the community. It offers an opportunity for consigners to sell their items in one place and know that they’ll have a good return on their items to add cash flow to the household income. It fits with my values and the values of the community. We consign clothing from newborns to teens. We focus on kids through juniors and young men. Baby gear. Kids furniture. Maternity wear. Tights.

What sets your business apart from similar ventures? New gift products, such as high-quality Melissa and Doug wooden puzzles.
In partnership with Dowagiac Athletic Boosters, Kris sells Chieftain merchandise. It gives them a storefront instead of just at games to sell their products. It’s customer service. You have to do your own marketing, promoting, bookkeeping and housekeeping. I enjoy all those things. No day is the same.

What customers do you reach? Local Dowagiac residents, day visitors from Indiana, St. Joseph, Berrien Springs, Eau Claire, Three Oaks and a great base of Chicago second-home owners who are consigners as well as shoppers. It’s a huge mix every single day.

How does the future look? Quality and variety are key. Growth has been steady. Customers and consigners are so supportive and loyal and keep us going and growing.

Recognition: Last year, Who kNew was one of the first family-friendly businesses Cass County Great Start Parent Coalition recognized. There are wide aisles easily navigated by strollers and a play area with a tent, where an occasional dad can be caught napping, his feet hanging out through the flap.

Telephone number: 782-9800

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; open until 7 on Thursdays

Store event

Fifth birthday party: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 8

What: Cupcakes, silly hats and a broadcast from 95.5 Y-Country

Winner: One party guest will win two all-access passes to Lee Brice (“A Woman Like You, “Love Like Crazy).

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