Loyce Jones, 48, opened her consignment clothing store, Bon Ton, in Dallas in January 1994, with the help of her sister and brother-in-law, Sharon and Edward Anderson. They had just $400 in start-up funds and an inventory culled mainly from their own closets. "My sister is a clotheshorse, and I'm one of those people who shifts sizes," explains Jones. "Sharon had hundreds of things she had never worn or barely worn because she's been working in retail forever. For the kind of stores she worked in, she had to [dress well]."
Jones spent the $400 on paper, copier supplies, sales tickets and a used cash register. Bon Ton was profitable immediately, although the bottom line took a temporary hit in June 1996, when the store moved from its original location in the basement of an apartment building to its current location in a downtown corporate plaza. The rent, which consumes about 20 percent of revenues, didn't go up much, because the new landlords were eager to get a retail shop into the building. Bon Ton's 1997 revenues were about $50,000.