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Photos by Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Customers browse through the used furniture at the Finders Keepers outlet on South Calhoun Street.

Used furniture boasts big value

Company name: Finders Keepers

Address: 2608 S. Calhoun St.

At a glance: A used furniture and home furnishings store

Employees: Three full- and part-time

Annual revenue: $300,000 to $400,000

When was the company founded: 1982

Biggest accomplishment in the past 12 months: The use of social media and the Internet has contributed greatly to an increase in sales. Owner John Wonderly estimates business is up 30 percent over the last couple of years as a result of sites like Facebook and Craigslist.

What was your biggest mistake in operating this business: Wonderly said he tried to open new furniture outlets in Fort Wayne, but all failed for one reason or another. “Once you’re known for being in one spot, that’s a good thing,” he said. “People know where you are and what to expect.” The added expense of paying rent at multiple locations wasn’t a good idea either, Wonderly said.

What are the key challenges facing your business or industry: Customers are beginning to recognize the value of antique furniture, Wonderly said, and aren’t parting with their pieces as easily as they once did. “People are starting to appreciate older furniture more and more,” he said. The situation makes it more challenging to find supply. “That’s OK, though,” Wonderly said. “I love the hunt and I love locating that rare find. It’s like a hobby, really.”

What’s your strategy for staying ahead of your competition: “Just perseverance,” the businessman said. “People know who we are. It helps that the building we’re in began as a furniture store in 1924, so we have the space with 21,000 square feet and a building for storage.” Wonderly said customers are going retro not to be trendy but “because they see that much of today’s furniture can’t begin to match the craftsmanship of the older furniture.” Wonderly said it also helps that he can place advertising on online advertisement sites without worrying about any stigma being attached to his business. “It would kind of besmirch the image of a new furniture store if they did that,” he said.

What resources have you found most helpful in running a business: “There is no ‘Used Furniture 101’ class you can take,” Wonderly said. “I’ve learned from others and just time and experience have been the best teachers.”

What are your growth projections for the next five years: 3 percent to 5 percent each year

What is one thing about your business that people might not be aware of: “I don’t apologize for our prices, which are lower than what you’d find at a new store but still double what I pay for it,” Wonderly said. “Some don’t appreciate the full cost of what it takes in retail. I have to pay employees, taxes and other expenses” that affect the out-the-door cost.

If you weren’t running this business, what would you be doing: I would like to be a world traveler.

Source: John Wonderly, owner

– Compiled by Paul Wyche of The Journal Gazette

Business Spotlight profiles small businesses that are at least three years old and have 100 or fewer employees. To recommend a business, email the name of the company and the name and phone number of a contact person to pwyche@jg.net or fax to 461-8893.

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