"It's been so fun to watch the store grow," said current Pieces manager Michael Mingo, a 10-year employee. "It's really worked because of Becky [Holsinger] - …
"It's been so fun to watch the store grow," said current Pieces manager Michael Mingo, a 10-year employee. "It's really worked because of Becky [Holsinger] - because of who she is and how she does business, because of her fearlessness, her ethics and her work ethic. She's been very inspirational on a daily basis."
The largest and most visible of Taos' many consignment and secondhand stores, Pieces will "leave the building" at 1028 Paseo del Pueblo Sur at the end of September. Owner Holsinger, who opened the store in 2006, expressed mixed feelings as she cited reasons for the decision.
"I have German stubbornness in me," said Holsinger, "but the last several winters have been hard. Business just tanked for six months of the year and didn't get back up to normal speed during the summer months. Plus the overhead here has gotten huge."
Holsinger originally leased just the middle third of the building but has expanded over the years to occupy the entire 15,000-square-foot facility. She has over 7,000 consigners and displays more than 50,000 pieces at any given time, of which about 45,000 change hands during an average year.
A note to consigners: Come and retrieve your consignment items by the end of the day Friday, Sept. 13. Anything still left on the floor will be considered a donation and taken to Habitat for Humanity, CAV or other charitable organizations. You can come in and pick up a check for sold merchandise from Sept. 14-30.
Other factors tilted Holsinger toward calling it quits. "We've had seven break-ins since last October," said Holsinger. "Sure, I have an alarm system and I added more security cameras, but it doesn't seem to deter them. We've had serious shoplifting issues here as well."
It's not been uncommon to hear Taos shoppers complain of high prices at Pieces. "A lot of people have said we're too expensive," said Holsinger, "but we keep track of our competitors' pricing and have stayed very consistent with other consignment stores around town."
While Pieces doesn't operate as a charity or nonprofit, the store has done its share of community service over the years. "When people who are moving show up with a load of stuff at the last minute needing to vacate their premises, we take everything they have, even though we end up putting half of it in our 'free' box," said Mingo. "And we've always encouraged people to put their things on consignment with us instead of dumping them in the landfill."
Holsinger also noted that she does all her own bookkeeping, that she recently turned 64 and is feeling a bit fatigued by it all. "I'd been thinking about an exit strategy for a couple of years," she said. "Several of us started joking one day that I'll still be here when I'm 99, drooling in my wheelchair but still trying to run the business."
When her landlord approached her last week to announce that he'd agreed to sell the building, she didn't argue the point, in spite of the two and a half years remaining on her lease.
"My first thought was relief," said Holsinger, "and my second thought was, 'Oh my God, we have to be out of here in 45 days!'" But she added that her staff is doing an amazing job of getting everything organized and on track for a timely departure.
A lot of longtime loyal customers have come in to express grief, offer hugs and shed a few tears. "They really feel like family," Holsinger said. "I tell them not to blame the landlord, that I felt it was time anyway." She tried to get several of her employees to buy the business and carry on, but they shied away from the idea when it suddenly meant finding a new location as well.
For those who grieve the passing of Pieces, all is not lost. "I have in mind doing periodic sales out of my warehouse," said Holsinger. "Stay tuned for the details."
Located at 218 Paseo del Cañon East, the warehouse adjoins Vagrant Hearts gallery.
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