New in the market – Turning a hobby into a lucrative business

The Attic owner and director Vivienne Wade in her store after the opening yesterday. Picture: MONIKA SINGH

The local market caters for those who love pre-loved clothing, kitchenware and even second-hand vehicles. However there are not many options for those who may be interested in used furniture.

A new business that just opened its doors to consumers yesterday at Jerusalem Rd, Nabua, is just the place for those who love investing in used furniture or items which have a past attached to them.

The Attic owner and director Vivienne Wade had been operating her what she calls “gently used quality furniture” business online (Instagram) until she decided it was time to open a brick and mortar store for her customers.

“It really started as a hobby. I had you know things that I thought oh I’m not using this anymore but somebody else might you know value it and treasure it and will have some use for it so we started off like that.

“And then it just started to grow and when I realised that there was definitely a market for people who valued the product that I had online and so it just sort of grew organically from there you know and of course then COVID hit.

“The lockdowns happened and everyone was at home and that’s when most people realized that their homes needed some furniture or other items to make their homes more comfortable and cozy.”

Ms Wade said people continued to buy from her during COVID – they would adhere to the social distance protocols and pick up their purchases and go. The furniture and whatever items found in The Attic are sourced from New Zealand, the US, Australia and even locally.

“There are things from New Zealand, from the States and we source things locally wherever we can and we also do consignment so if you have something that you’d like to sell we can either buy it off you or sell it on your behalf.”

With her origins linked to Fiji and New Zealand, Ms Wade moved overseas with her parents at a very early age and was fortunate to travel extensively, which also nurtured her love for used furniture and her knowledge of what her customers would love.

She said it was very encouraging to see the support that small businesses and new businesses had locally with loyal customers.

“My customer feedback had been great and so positive.

There is not just one item that customers like – there maybe this small piece of furniture or a little signature item that makes a dull corner look bright. It all depends on what the customer connects with.” Ms Wade said there was a gap in the market for something like what her business offered and she wanted to fill that gap.

“I use gently used in the description of the furniture I have because they are not that old and not that much used. I would use the term recycle or vintage but then not everything here is vintage. We are a second-hand store and everything here is used by someone and it has its own past and personality and are in absolute perfect condition.

“If you come here one time and see a piece of furniture that you may like but do not purchase, there is a chance you may come back later and not find that particular piece here.”

In terms of competition she said there was always room for a lot of competition, adding that competition was healthy.

“I think there’s nothing that stops somebody else from doing this and it’s all a matter of personal taste. What you like, what I like, you know your taste might vary and you might want to open something that speaks to you more and that’s fine and I think that’s healthy and I welcome it.”

In terms of investment, Ms Wade said a lot of people had helped her with the business set up, with a lot of time and effort spent on it.

“I have had the blessing and support of family members. During COVID I was shopping online you know and sending the items to my parents overseas and they would help me pack it up, they would ship it over so it was all sort of orchestrated.”

Ms Wade’s consignments were also affected by the recent supply chain constraints but she managed to handle the challenge.

If business in the Capital City goes well then Ms Wade might expand to the Western Division or the islands but her vision is also to potentially move into a side business that goes hand-in-hand with this business, such as refurbishing.

The store also has a book collection with a community program whereby customers can pick a book and drop a dollar in the jar set aside.

Ms Wade said the money collected through the initiative would be handed over to the Fiji Women’s Crisis Center to be used for the welfare of all the women and children assisted by the centre.

“We all are aware of the hardships that women and children face and the FWCC is doing a great job assisting them. Although we are not a big business but we still want to do our part in giving back to the community,” said Ms Wade.

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