By: Hannah Wingert, Fillmore County Journal
It all started when Harmony native Becky Hoff started downsizing the contents of her closet by selling some of her clothes on online marketplace apps such as Poshmark and Mercari. Then, she started finding pieces while out browsing estate sales and thrift stores. “And I thought, I could sell that,” she said. The next thing she knew, she was in business. She stayed busy prepping items to sell, listing them, and shipping them off to customers. When she heard that a storefront space on Main Avenue in Harmony was available, she felt that it was time to take the next step in her business, and reclaim the areas of her home that it had taken over.
Becky and her husband Shaun, who have lived in Harmony for 10 years, took a tour of the building and fell in love with it. “Shaun and I saw a lot of potential,” she said. After signing a rental agreement, she needed to decide on a name for her new business. The first one she picked was a no-go as it was already being used by someone else in Minnesota. Then inspiration hit in the form of one of her favorite plants, and Bee Balm was born.
Becky began renovations on her storefront in the beginning of August. She was still working at the Harmony Area Chamber of Commerce as the director so she spent evenings and weekends at her shop, getting it ready to open. Thankfully, she didn’t have to do a lot as much of it was already perfect for what she needed. “The main change that was made to the building was painting,” she said. “It seems like such a minor thing, but I think it really made a big change to the space.”
After resigning her position as the Chamber director, Becky was able to spend more time in her shop, preparing for her opening on October 4. She already had an inventory of between 400 and 500 pieces of clothing that were listed online for sale and had to move all of that to the store. She also began accepting consignment items before her shop opened.
On October 19, the Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony at Bee Balm to celebrate its opening. “It was a crazy busy day,” Becky commented. “It was awesome.” Since then, business has been steady overall, with some days busier than others, which Becky doesn’t mind. “That gives me time to work on the online sales,” she explained. “I like that I don’t have to run that aspect of the business out of my living room anymore.” She had been so busy focusing on getting ready to open the store that her online sales had been neglected, but now that Bee Balm is up and running, she is starting to work on the online side of her business again. “It’s starting to pay off already,” she said. She even has plans to expand to other online marketplaces.
Becky currently has around 40 consignors and is accepting more. She currently has appointments booked for almost every day to meet with new potential consignors. As of now, she is running the business on her own although her husband helps her move things around and her friend comes in and helps her with projects now and then. “For the most part, I run it all,” she said.
“I think one of the fun parts of consignment is that we have this element of random,” Becky said. “You never know what you’re going to find.” One of her favorite pieces that has been brought in for consignment so far was a women’s wool snow suit from the 1930s.
In addition to gently used women’s clothing and accessories, Becky also accepts small furniture, vintage or antique items, collectibles, decorative items, and more. She plans to launch a small line of Christmas gifts for Small Business Saturday on November 30 and will hold an open house that day as well.
Becky feels that the five years she spent as the Chamber director prepared her and even encouraged to open her own business. “Business ownership is contagious,” she said, laughing. “You hang around with business owners long enough and look what happens.” She has been impressed at how the community has supported her new venture. Other business owners donated equipment such as clothing racks and on the day of her opening, she received flowers and plants congratulating her. “Harmony is a great community to do business in and I knew that already from working at the Chamber,” Becky said. “I was very fortunate to have those connections already and know who to talk to when I have questions.”
To make a consignment appointment at Bee Balm, call (507) 886-BEES or email Becky at email@example.com. You can follow Bee Balm on Facebook for the latest news.