LA PLUME – The two businesses owned by Wendy Nordmark share an address and a roof, but each has an outside door. Inside, there is a gap in the wall that partitions the two very different shops, but most customers enter from the front.
“It’s interesting,” Nordmark said. “The people who come specifically looking for Sentimetal do not shop in Jackson and Jill, but the people who shop in Jackson and Jill also shop in Sentimetal.”
The owner understands there is little synergy between the sister enterprises. Jackson and Jill, opened at 2053 State Route 6/11 in March 2007, is a consignment shop. Sentimetal was brought onto the premises in 2013, and is a vehicle for Nordmark to sell the jewelry and accessories she designs and fabricates in her Dalton studio. This side of the building is also where she sells pieces from other local artisans, including jewelry for children and handmade bows.
The workforce consists of Nordmark and her husband, Alan. Their 12-year-old son, Jackson, lent his name to the consignment store and provides some of its stock as he outgrows clothing.
“This is what we do,” Wendy Nordmark said. “It’s not a hobby. This is how we support our family and pay our bills.”
More than a decade ago, Nordmark and her husband were living in Las Vegas. He owned an insurance agency and she worked for a French cosmetics retailer. They returned to Pennsylvania, where she has family, in order to raise their son.
When Jackson became a toddler, his mother began looking for something that would get her out of the house, generate some income and not interfere with her ability to raise the child.
In early 2007, the spouses decided to buy a consignment shop in La Plume. The existing business had no connection to cosmetics or insurance.
“It was a complete departure from anything either one of us had ever known,” Wendy Nordmark recalled.
The store was purchased, closed, renovated, revamped and renamed.
Other than a small selection of designer handbags, Jackson and Jill’s inventory is limited to clothing, toys and gear for children. There are items for newborns through the sizes typically worn by boys and girls up to 15 or 16 years of age.
The goods are used, but the owner only accepts items that are free of signs of wear or stains.
“Everything we carry is top of the line, designer brands in perfect condition,” Nordmark said.
There are about 500 consigners with goods on sale. If Nordmark accepts an item and it is appropriate for an upcoming season, she prices it and puts it out on the sales floor. Consigners get 40 percent of the selling price. If a piece has not sold after being offered for two consecutive seasons, it is donated to a charity.
Nordmark’s two businesses are inside a former gas station that was converted to a house before it was changed into a storefront. The consignment store occupies more floor space, and the baby room is inside the former master bedroom. The old kitchen is used as is a storage room.
Business at Jackson and Jill has been slowed by a combination of construction and the economy. The asphalt and bridge work being done on the U.S. highway has dissuaded many frequent patrons from visiting the store, according to Nordmark.
In 2009, when the national economy was in a recession, there were 900 consigners and more customers.
“If you’re having a great year, you’re not shopping here,” Nordmark explained. “If your husband is making a fortune, you’re not coming to consignment.”
The consignment store’s revenues are higher than those in Sentimetal, Nordmark said, but the newer store has been growing quickly. To fill orders, she usually works in her studio during the week, while her husband handles the retailing at both stores.
Wendy Nordmark has rendered items in metal for many years. She always fashioned her own jewelry. She made her husband’s wedding band. And it was the urging of her spouse that prompted her to display some metal creations inside Jackson and Jill. She was skeptical.
Three years later, the Sentimetal side of the enterprise occupies half the front of the store. Business is so good that Nordmark is considering moving Sentimetal to Clarks Summit in order to be closer to many of her customers.
“To make something for someone else to wear, and then to actually charge for it? That was a little scary,” Nordmark said. “But my jewelry business has exploded within the last year-and-a-half.”