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My Sister’s Closet and My Sister’s Attic in Southern Chandler. They employ about 150, and in 2009 when other businesses saw fl at sales, they watched theirs increase by a whopping 20 percent – a fi gure they’ve matched during the fi rst half of 2010.


To assume, however, that recent tough economic times and the cost-conscious consumers it has produced are solely – or even mostly – responsible for My Sister’s Closet’s success would be to ignore the company’s ever-profi table history. Within six months of their fi rst store offering shoppers “cute, current, clean” consignment clothing, Siner knew her enterprise was a winner, and for nearly two decades her hard work, innovation and business savvy – along with her partnership with Jennifer – has kept her company thriving.


A business is born


Siner, who moved to Phoenix in 1984 to pursue a graduate degree in international business, fi rst conceived the notion of starting a resale store when she was in her early 30s and working as director of marketing for PetSmart.


During a business trip to Texas, she visited her


fi rst second-hand store “and the wheels just started spinning,” she says.


“I thought, why couldn’t you do a resale store that looked like a new store?”


Siner took the idea with her back to the Valley and recruited Jennifer, a recent college graduate, as her partner. The two researched their idea for about a year before opening My Sister’s Closet in a 1,200-square- foot space at 20th Street and Camelback Road. “We looked to see what was already in town, and our impression was that resale stores were dark, dirty


and dingy,” says Siner, explaining that she and Jennifer worked hard to create a different environment for their customers.


Along with its strict policy on clothing acceptance – no more than four to fi ve years old, a retail value of at least $50, clean and wrinkle free – My Sister’s Closet and its “siblings” offer prompt payment to consigners and extended hours to shoppers.


“It was about simply serving a customer need and kind of changing the whole industry from mom and pop to ‘okay, let’s do what’s convenient for the customer, not what’s convenient for the store owner,’” Siner says, adding that she feels her company is doing shoppers “a huge service.” “Say you’re a secretary making


Scottsdale location opened up, it was her partnership with her sister that helped make the expansion possible.


“We’re a really good match,” Siner says. “I have to give her 90 percent of the credit. She’s a very easygoing personality. We’re also kind of the yin and yang of working together because she’s very artistic and I’m this nerd who likes to sit down with spreadsheets and crunch numbers.”


Submitted photo


SMART: To visit the 10 upscale resale stores in the Valley owned by Ann Siner and her sister, Jennifer, they own a fuel- efficient Smart Car.


My Sister’s Closet recently began offering wedding dresses at its Chandler location. The company will soon add online selling, and is “always looking at expanding and potential new markets,” says Siner. In the meantime, she’s seen the “shame of resale shopping” largely disappear.


10 bucks an hour. You can come in and buy a beautiful business suit for $15. Conversely, you can clean out your closet and get some money for it.” It was an extension of that customer-driven philosophy that led to the opening of My Sister’s Attic, which sells quality consignment furniture, and Well- Suited, which offers men’s resale clothing. Although shoppers were clamoring for the additional stores, Siner admits that she was initially uncomfortable with the idea of delegating responsibilities. “The fi rst store made a beautiful profi t for us, so it was a big question. Do we really want the hassle?” she explains, adding that, when a “premier”


“When we were fi rst in business, we’d be out somewhere, and we’d see somebody who we knew was a customer or consigner, and we could kind of see them put their head down like, ‘Don’t look at me like you know me.’


“Now it’s a whole different atmosphere. People say, ‘You have My Sister’s Closet. I love that store!’”


Kelli Lang lives and writes in Sun Groves. To contact her, email KMLang@SanTanSun.com.


Business


July 17 - Aug. 6, 2010 19


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