Internet start-up spawns Mokena consignment shop
BY GINGER BRASHINGER Correspondent March 19, 2013 5:26PM
George Venturella, from Cait's Cart resale shop, is seen with a desk at the store in Mokena. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 21, 2013 6:44AM
Count a Frankfort family among the Internet entrepreneurs who have expanded their businesses to include traditional brick-and-mortar stores.
Cait’s Cart, an upscale consignment shop, recently opened at 9426 W. 191st St., Mokena, after a year of doing a pretty brisk business online, co-owner George Venturella said.
“We were looking for a business that would be good in today’s economy,” he said.
While Venturella’s wife, Terri, operated the online business, Venturella put his years of real estate experience to use, eventually finding “a good location” at the former site of the Front Porch Coffee and Gift Co., he said.
Venturella said that not only was the building nearly in move-in condition, but built-in white shelving and a wide-open floor plan provided the “perfect” showcase for the store’s nearly 1,000 items.
Many pieces are high-quality estate sale finds he discovered, Venturella said, a perk he enjoys as part of his work with Estate Pros.
Venturella said he plans to eventually stock Cait’s Cart with up to 2,000 items.
“About 40 percent will always be one-of-a-kind,” he said, such as antiques or like-new upscale pieces.
The remainder of the inventory will be a mixture of new furniture, household items that “customers can’t purchase new for less somewhere else” and original pieces created by local artists and craftsmen, he said.
“We’re going to find out what that (perfect) blend is,” Venturella said. “We thought it would be a good idea to come into a shop that has a mix of consignments and new items and high-quality pieces. We felt if we kept the shop with a high-quality feel, an artsy feel, we could intertwine the other items.”
Venturella said plans are in the works to add a small dining area where customers can relax with a cup of coffee or tea and buy some to take home.
It’s another way of making the shop “warm” with an “at-home” feel, he said.
The family plans to open several more stores in the area in the next few years, and “we will, hopefully, be a large employer,” Venturella said.
For now, Anthony Venturella, 20, runs the Mokena location, while his sister, Jamie, 33, is in charge of marketing through social media.
The store’s namesake, Cait, 22, will join the family when she graduates from Eastern Michigan University this spring, Venturella said.
Terri Venturella will continue conducting business online and George will seek “treasures” for the shop and assess consignment items and artists’ offerings.
Venturella said anyone with a consignment item should email a photo of the item to firstname.lastname@example.org or call ahead about bringing a photo of the item to the store. Venturella wants to see the proof of purchase and certificate of authenticity if the item is artwork or a collectible.
He’s looking for nothing but the best.
“In some consignment shops, the feeling isn’t like you’re buying something new,” Venturella said. “We’re very selective in what we’ll accept.”
For more information, call (708) 995-7746 or visit www.caitscart.com.