Northeast Times

Keys to the Attic shop to open in October

A Fishtown wo­man will soon in­tro­duce the com­munity to her store fea­tur­ing vin­tage and re­designed fur­niture and home goods. She'll also help pro­mote oth­er loc­al busi­nesses and artists.

Cath­er­ine Jen­nings seems to know every­one.

As she walks from her yet-to-open store­front at 314 E. Gir­ard Ave. to her home on Columbia Street, she points out the homes of her friends who con­tin­ue to ad­vise her — friends who also own small busi­nesses in the area, and know the hard­ships of set­ting up shop firsthand.

In the 700 square foot space on Gir­ard Av­en­ue, Jen­nings is stock­pil­ing in­vent­ory for her re­sale shop, Keys to the At­tic. The space was crum­bling, Jen­nings said, when she first pur­chased it. Now, it’s on its way, and boasts light yel­low ac­cen­ted walls and a door stained a deep, oak brown.

There’s still a lot to do, Jen­nings said, be­fore her “soft open­ing” in early Oc­to­ber. But if you walked past the win­dowed store­front, you might not know that in­side there’s a de­voted wo­man work­ing every day to build the once-aban­doned space in­to a thriv­ing hub for the com­munity and the re­claimed fur­niture in­dustry.

After get­ting laid off from her job as a web de­sign­er, Jen­nings said she left “cor­por­ate Amer­ica” and nev­er looked back. She knew she wanted to par­lay her hobby in­to a busi­ness, but said she had to learn how it was done.

So she start­ing talk­ing to oth­er loc­al busi­nesses, like In­ter­state Draft House, Xhale Lounge, Sweets & Treats and Re­trend Philly.

“I would lit­er­ally knock on their doors and ask them what they did,” she said, adding that she also en­lis­ted the help of the NK­CDC and the Wo­men’s Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Cen­ter.

Jen­nings said each busi­ness told her the same thing: if you need any­thing, ask. She said that’s a big part of the reas­on she chose Fishtown for her new busi­ness ven­ture. That, and the fact that she’s lived in Fishtown for 24 years.

“I live here. It’s easy to get to, easy to watch and I know people here,” she said.

Keys to the At­tic will fea­ture in­ex­pens­ive vin­tage and re­designed fur­niture and home goods. She said she con­siders ‘Ikea’ and ‘plastic’ bad words.

“I’m be­ing very se­lect­ive. I don’t want this in any way to turn in­to a thrift store, she said. “I want the products I sell to be high qual­ity and gently used.”

The shop will also fea­ture CeCe Cald­well’s or­gan­ic “chalk” paint, which is self-prim­ing and achieves the sanded, weathered look that’s pop­u­lar in today’s re­claimed home style.

Con­sign­ing with Keys to the At­tic is simple. Email a photo of the goods you’re in­ter­ested in selling and the shop will de­term­ine the re­sale price.

It’s a 50/50 split, with the shop get­ting one half of the earn­ings. Pieces will be sold in-store for 90 days with mark­downs every month. Guidelines on what the shop will and will not sell can be found on its web­site. Jen­nings also said she won’t be tak­ing dona­tions.

She will, however, be sup­port­ing oth­er loc­al busi­nesses. She said she’s de­vot­ing two to three feet of win­dow space to pro­mot­ing loc­al artists and busi­nesses, even fel­low re­sale op­er­a­tions.

“We’re not in com­pet­i­tion, we’ll nev­er have the same products,” Jen­nings said. “If we sup­port each oth­er, we all grow.”

After all of the com­munity coun­sel she’s re­ceived, Jen­nings has a few words of ad­vice to any­one work­ing on break­ing in­to the in­de­pend­ent, small busi­ness sec­tor.

“Get to know your loc­al com­munity banks and or­gan­iz­a­tions,” she said. “There are a lot of re­sources out there. Use them.” 

And if all else fails, go and knock on her door.

Re­port­er Nikki Volpi­celli can be reached at nikki.volpi­celli@gmail.com.

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