Savvy success

Selective Seconds owner Vena Holden enjoys helping customers save money, supporting the community and guiding other resale businesses

Selective Seconds Owner Vena Holden loves the hunt of finding high-quality items for a good price. *Photos by Nicole Davis

It’s been 20 years since Vena Holden first opened Selective Seconds and she still has a passion for the entire business.

“We help people make money from their gently-used things,” she said. “We help people save money by buying resale. We’re recycling and saving the earth. We help support the community through donations. We’re supplying jobs. It’s a win-win for everyone that works, shops and supplies merchandise here.”

Holden started Selective Seconds in 1997, renting a commercial-zoned house in Mooresville.

“I was a single mom, working at a law firm on a secretary’s salary,” she said. “I didn’t have much money. I knew I had to dress professional to work myself up. I found myself shopping at consignment and resale stores. I loved the hunt of finding good quality items at a really good price.”

The business took off, and Holden was able to purchase that house. She continued to work full time outside of her business for two years before that phased out. She opened a second location in Greenwood in 2003, then sold her Mooresville shop while expanding the Greenwood location in 2006.

Selective Seconds offers items on a nine-week consignment, starting at 1/2 to 1/3 of retail price, with the price dropping the longer the item is in the store. Sellers can log into their online account and view what they have sold so far, come in and pick up their check. The shop also offers the ability to set up accounts in a charity’s name, accepting donations with the proceeds sent to that charity each month.

A lot has changed through the years, from the way people shop to how they think about resale shops in general.

“I started in an era where it was kind of a shame to tell people that you bought it at a resale shop,” Holden said. “Now, I’ve seen the industry change. People are proud to say, ‘I only paid $5 for this.’ You couldn’t do that 20 years ago.”

The shop celebrated its 20-year anniversary in August 2017. Holden attributes her two-decade success to the dedication of her staff and her networking. She is a member of NARTS: The Association of Resale Professionals and the Association for Resale Innovation (ARI), which has helped her meet resale shop owners across the nation.

“You have to embrace networking and sharing,” she said. “I consult with resale shops that are newer and getting started. I like helping them. There’s only 15 to 20 percent of the actual population that shops resale on a regular basis, so if I can help other shops be successful, and those shoppers tell their friends, family and coworkers about it, that 15 to 20 percent is just going to grow.”

With the help of her fellow shop owners, Holden has been working to adapt to the changing trend on how customers like to shop – online. Selective Seconds revamped its Website so that it offers a sampling of products available. What’s been most successful, lately, is Facebook. Selective Seconds has a regular Facebook page and a private group titled Selective Seconds Shoppers Lounge. In the private group, the shop’s staff will do live videos, highlighting items that have come into the store. Viewers who are interested in purchasing the featured item/s can comment with their email address and will be sent a Paypal invoice.

“We’re in the beginning of that,” Holden said. “It’s something I’m perfecting with other consignment shops across the nation. We’re learning.”

When she started the business 20 years ago, Holden said she never expected it to grow into what it has become, but she’s comfortable where she’s at.

“I like being hands-on with my staff, working up front,” she said. “The best part is knowing we’re making our suppliers and customers happy. It’s a good feeling knowing all the good that comes out of the business. I never get tired of coming to work.”

Getting to know Vena…

-My daughter-in-law is my manager. She’s been with me over two years now. She’s learning the value of networking and becoming a very good leader of the business.

– I bowl with my husband on Wednesdays.

– We’re building a new house in Martinsville.

Best advice: Network, network, network. It’s almost like having silent partners. I can pick up my phone, call or text Ellen in New York, Sonya in Arkansas, whoever, and say I don’t know what to do about this situation. They’re going to give me great advice. We all help each other.

Worst advice: Probably just advertising. I’ve learned to trust your gut on advertising and not be swayed by good salespeople.

Best business decision: I am not afraid to try new things. I’m not afraid to spend money if I think it will grow my business. For instance, I do some mailers, snail mail. A lot of people don’t do those anymore. I usually get back what I put out there, but if I can make 10 new customers from that, the value of a new customer is pretty high. Once you get them in here, get their email, then I can reach out to them. Also, appreciate the value of a customer.  They have so many choices now of where they can go. Treat your customers well.

Secret to success: You have to learn to be creative on how to reach people. You have to constantly be thinking about your next marketing pull, how will you pull the customers in here.

In 5 years… The business will never go away. Brick and mortar businesses are shaky, but I don’t see that happening with resale because people always have things they need to purge out of their closet and people love to save money. Our brick and mortar business is here to stay. I see us reaching customers differently, but still having great inventory that we have now.

Selective Seconds

1140 N. State Rd. 135, Suite J

Greenwood, IN 46142

(317) 888-2300