OSKALOOSA — Antiques and oddities, brand new toys and nostalgic favorites compete for space at The Clearance Aisle.
The store, which opened in early July, is located at 501 High Ave. W. Owners Justin Ver Steeg and Jessica Dawson said they have enjoyed a lot of community support, which was evident as two women entered the store, browsed, and mentioned they were urged to visit by another local business owner.
Ver Steeg said he wasn’t expecting that kind of support from other local entrepreneurs.
“There’s been a lot of small local businesses here that jumped in and said, ‘hey if there’s anything you need, we’ll help you with this,’” he said. “We never knew how anybody would take it, because there’s other resale businesses here. So when we first started, I was like ‘don’t say anything to anybody, I don’t want to make anybody upset.’ But once we opened up, everybody was like ‘what can I do to help you?’”
Dawson, who is just about always in the store, said word of mouth has drawn people in. Even people who didn’t know about the store can’t seem to help but wander in.
“Every day somebody comes in and says ‘I didn’t know you guys were here,’ ” she said.
Ver Steeg said there’s a lot of people who support shopping locally.
“I don’t blame anybody for going to WalMart or shopping anywhere else. We still to this day do it too,” he said.”I was telling [Dawson], I don’t know, I can’t get prices much lower than what WalMart has, I’m new. So we didn’t know how that would turn out with some of the stuff that we have in here. But for example we had a lady come in here and she bought a bunch of Hot Wheels from us. She could have got them 10 cents cheaper at WalMart, but [she bought] to help us. There’s a lot of people like that.”
The couple, who have a young daughter, had been working full-time jobs and in their spare time would visit garage sales on the weekends.
“We got to talking, ‘man, people really throw stuff away, good stuff,” Ver Steeg said.
Ver Steeg and Dawson started out online.
“We bought liquidation pallets and we started online like on Ebay and Amazon. We kind of got into it that way and then we got out of liquidation and started doing just used items on Ebay. That was a lot of random, weird things that you wouldn’t think brought money that do,” Ver Steeg said. “So when we opened the store it was kind of to get it out of our home. We’ve got so much stuff, a lot of its isn’t worth putting it up on Ebay, it’s not worth it to ship it.”
A little bit of everything
Ver Steeg said a lot of what they find is from auctions or yard sales and is a lot like liquidation.
“We’ve got people that bring stuff in, we have people that call us and ask if we want to purchase what they have,” he said. “We’ve been getting a lot lately people that are moving out of their homes or they’ve had somebody pass on and they’ll call us and ask us if we’d like to come out and clean it out for them.”
Needing more space
Ver Steeg said he and Dawson have been talking about maybe getting a larger space.
“It’s a little small. That’s why I’m not here often, because it’s just too small for her and customers,” he said. “I didn’t know how well [at first] it would pan out here. And then after we opened the doors, a lot of people are like ‘this is nice.’ So we kind of got the vibe that it would work. We sell a lot of furniture and we can’t bring that in here, obviously. That is something we would like to have is maybe a little more floor space to bring in some furniture.”
Dawson and Ver Steeg enjoy what they do.
“I do enjoy doing it,” Ver Steeg said. “I’ve met a lot of people doing this job. I’m not really much of a social person. If I could stay away from it I would. But having this job brings me out of that shell a little bit.”
Ver Steeg said The Clearance Aisle, filled with an eclectic array of items, is “the smallest and most unique store in Oskaloosa.”