New Farmington store offers shoppers a little bit of everything
It’s a little difficult to get a handle on the new Farmington Outlet. On one side of the store, laid out on plastic folding tables, are a popcorn maker, pairs of shoes and an electric guitar. Along the back wall, t-shirts hang from a chain link fence above rows of appliances. Along another wall there are wooden shelves stuffed with comforters. There are leather recliners and dining room tables and shelves lined with high-end Beats headphones.
At one point in recent weeks, there was a crossbow. And if you come back next week, it might all be gone, replaced by another collection of items that is no less eclectic.
Jim Henderson and Tom Rothe have spent more than 20 years collecting and distributing mismatched treasures like these. From a warehouse in Apple Valley, they work with the online arms of major retailers to buy items sent back by because they’re damaged or they’re the wrong size or the customer didn’t like the color. It’s too expensive for the stores to put the items back into their systems, so they sell them to Henderson and Rothe at a discounted price. Henderson and Rothe turn around and sell the items to wholesale to stores from Canada to Florida.Recently, though, the pair started thinking about opening a store of their own. Rothe, a former Farmington resident, was familiar with a long-vacant convenience store on Highway 3. He liked the building and liked the location. So, early last month, Henderson and Rothe set up shop for themselves.The items that show up at Farmington Outlet are often as much a mystery to Henderson and Rothe as they are to the customers. The pair works with retailers to get a sense of the items they get and the way they package them, but they never know exactly what is in the trailers that show up at their warehouse.Sometimes things work out well. In January they opened a trailer to discover a treasure trove of electronics — iPads and iPods and Kindle ebook readers. Other times, they’ll get a collection of mismatched items that are of no use to them. They’ll get a headboard and foot board with no side boards, for example, or things that don’t work.“Every once in a while they’ll throw us a curve,” Rothe said.The things they think people will buy end up in the store, and those items change frequently, often with the season. They might have last year’s leftover Christmas ornaments in the fall, and furniture is a big seller in the spring. Right now they have lawn mowers lined up outside their front door.“We bring in a lot of stuff in here people don’t normally see, or are surprised we have,” Henderson said.The store, which is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday and from 10 to 4 Sunday, has been around for four weekends now. Henderson and Rothe said the response has been good.“It surprised us a little bit,” Rothe said. “I don’t think a lot of people know we’re here yet or what we’re about.”Even when they know, they’ll never be entirely sure what they’ll get.