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This column salutes REAP businesses that are finding ways to increase their success.

“Crossroads” Business Decision Brings New Visibility and Traffic to The Drawer

The Drawer, now located at 409 West Avenue in Holdrege, is a quality consignment shop offering quality women’s, children’s, and men’s clothing and accessories, along with housewares, home décor, furniture, collectibles, and tools. The Drawer is a bargain-hunters dream with over 1,000 consigners from various regions of Nebraska and also from surrounding states.

Nearly four years ago, after Artistic Woven Labels/Paxar Inc. announced their closing, Denice Swanson, who had served in various management positions for 23 years, was at a crossroads. This is the scenario she presented to the 200 some employees she had to tell that were being permanently laid off, “Consider this a chance to try something you never would have, had you not had this opportunity.” She heeded her own advice and opened The Drawer in August of 2003.

For three years, The Drawer was located on Highway 6 in Holdrege with approximately 3,000 square feet. The widening of 4th Avenue and consequential loss of her only front door parking along with the devastating ice storm of December 2006, which left the area without power for over 21 days, led Denice to another crossroad.

She found herself contemplating “calling it quits” or expanding. When the Treasurer’s of the Heart store was available, she considered the possibilities: expanded parking, more of a downtown location, healthy retail neighbors, and increased square footage with a better layout.

That is when she contacted the Rural Enterprise Assistance Project – REAP, a program of the Center for Rural Affairs. Denice is no stranger to REAP, having been a former client and Women and Co. Boost Award Winner for 2005. Soon Denice was reaping the benefits of her partnership with REAP and her desire to expand the business.

Currently they have more traffic in a day than they had in a week in the former location, and her sales have doubled. Prior to the move, she employed one full-time and four part-time employees. Currently she employs one full-time and seven part-time staff.

Besides the increase in sales, Denice is glad that she decided to keep the store open because it is giving her soon to be graduating son an opportunity to gain some entrepreneurial skills. He was in a serious car accident that left him partially disabled, and he knew he had to find other career interests besides the family farm.

He made the decision to stay close to home, take college classes through Central Community College in Holdrege, and set up a display and office at the Drawer to sell his grandpa’s imported tools. Stop by The Drawer at 409 West Avenue in Holdrege and enjoy a unique shopping experience.

Denice Swanson relocated her upscale consignment business with the help of REAP, and her sales doubled. 
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