I had the pleasure of interviewing Christine, owner of Back on the Racks.
Morissa: Tell me about your career path and what led you to become a small business owner in the coastal community.
Christine: I grew up at the Jersey Shore, my family moved from Brooklyn to New Jersey when I was in the 2nd grade. When I was a kid my mother would take us to this consignment store in Fair Haven called The Attic. It was a fun experience to sort through the racks of one of a kind items, things you couldn’t find at the mall. It just always stuck in my head, that I’d love to one day own a consignment store. Once I began working I started out in retail but have done many different jobs.
It was my last couple of jobs that pushed me to pursue my dream. I experienced working for a company that went out of business. It felt awful to not have any control over what happened. I was approaching my 50’s and felt like if I didn’t pursue my dream now it would never happen. So, I decided that I’d roll the dice and take a chance to become a business owner by opening my own consignment store.
Naturally, I drove around Monmouth County to find the perfect location to open my consignment store. That’s when I saw the sign on the door of my first store in West End. I’m still in this plaza today, but, now have 3 stores in the same plaza. I never thought it would grow to where it is today. Expanding from just women’s to now offering Furniture, Home décor and Children’s. One of my favorite bosses told me what he thought was the secret to a successful business, “hard work, timing and luck”, so true!
Your business is very eco-friendly by recycling clothes and furniture and repurposing them. What can other members of the community do to ‘stay green’?
One person’s trash is definitely, another person’s treasure. At Back on the Racks we enjoy educating our customer’s on how they can consign items they no longer want or need and make some money too. I would encourage everyone to think before you throw away a shirt that they no longer like or put some furniture out to the curb. Someone else may want to wear or use it.
What is your personal philosophy on being a successful small business owner?
I think as a small business owner you need to keep your eye on everything in the business, but also be able to let go some of the control so that you aren’t working in the business but working on the business.
Why should Monmouth University students and other young people especially ‘shop small?’
Small businesses directly impact the community, because we purchase from other small local businesses for lunch, insurance, printing, cleaning, repairs, and the list goes on and on. I don’t think that big companies like Walmart are having their printing done at a local Mom and Pop company.
Who has inspired/inspires you?
I try to surround myself with people that inspire me daily. But, I’d say the person that gave me the courage to pursue my dreams would be my father. My Dad never told me I couldn’t do it, he always would be tell me just do it and he’d even help me do it!
Have you learned any important lessons from your experiences as a small business owner?
I’ve learned so many lessons as a small business owner. I’d say the most important one is to not let a bad situation define your future. Learn from it and move on. Also, try not take yourself too seriously, you have to be able to laugh at yourself.
How do you best connect to your customers and the coastal community?
Social media has been a great way for us to effectively engage with our customers. It’s so important as a business owner to keep up with the way your customers are getting their information.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
To anyone considering starting a business today I’d suggest you stalk the business you want to start and try to do a better job at it. Because as they say, ‘if you are doing something that you enjoy, you never work a day in your life.’ But I’ve also been told that I mess up every quote, so don’t quote me on this one.