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From left, Curiosity Shoppe owners David and Leslie Jones work with 20 vendors, including Pam Lovewell, their first cosignor and vendor, at their Nixa upscale flea market. The store is preparing for a move to a more visible spot on Aldersgate Drive.
From left, Curiosity Shoppe owners David and Leslie Jones work with 20 vendors, including Pam Lovewell, their first cosignor and vendor, at their Nixa upscale flea market. The store is preparing for a move to a more visible spot on Aldersgate Drive.

Business Spotlight: The Business of Bauble

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Curiosity and fleas are usually feline nemeses. But being unusual is what makes this Mom-and-Pop mascot purr.

With an un-named cat lurking on its logo, Nixa-based Curiosity Shoppe LLC is in its third year of business as an upscale resale flea market under husband-and-wife owners Dave and Leslie Jones.

“We were curious if two almost-retired people could do this – to have the energy and stamina to do it – and in an economy that isn’t that great,” Leslie Jones says.

Those factors, combined with the simplicity of the word “curiosity” rather than the owners’ preferred word, “peculiar,” helped to shape the store’s moniker. Curiosity Shoppe sells home décor, furniture, antiques, clothing, jewelry, games and collectibles.

“With the economy, we didn’t really even know if we could open up and keep it going,” Leslie Jones says.

With their own funds, a no-interest credit card and short-term use of a line of credit, the couple opened the Curiosity Shoppe at 116 Sherman Way in December 2008. Today, all 20 vendor openings are filled, two part-time employees have been added and the store is making progress.

“The first year, we were just hoping to make $50 a day,” Dave Jones says.

His wife adds, “We still have those days, but they’re few and far between.”

While the shop didn’t quite break even its first year, Dave Jones says Curiosity Shoppe recorded 2010 revenues of about $150,000.

“It’s taken two years for us to make an hourly wage that is OK,” Leslie Jones says.

Now, the shop is preparing for a fall move around the corner to a more visible storefront at 107 W. Aldersgate Drive, she says.

Because Walmart overshadows its current location and the advertising budget is tight, Jones says Curiosity Shoppe has sought out unconventional advertising methods. One way to ensure customers find their way to the tucked-away store has been to use strategically placed roadside yard signs, she says.

Pooling its advertising budget with 11 other local, second-tier businesses, Leslie says the Curiosity Shoppe and its allies have been able to print a shopping guide brochure for customers and purchase a full-page ad in Nixa Xpress. The Joneses contributed $30 for 200 brochures and $50 to the full-page ad.

The Curiosity Shoppe also has been able to freely and successfully advertise items on Craigslist, Leslie says.

“We want every vendor that comes in to make money, so we help them (sell their items),” she says.

By advertising vendors’ items on Craigslist, as well as arranging items without booths in a boutique style by grouping similar tastes and items, the Curiosity Shoppe has found a niche among vendors.

The store’s first consigner and vendor, Pam Lovewell, says she appreciates how the Joneses work to assure both customers and vendors get what they want.

“I really like the way the shop looks – the way we can arrange things so everyone succeeds – and how we all work together,” she says.

Lovewell, a schoolteacher of 29 years, primarily sells home decor, clothing, jewelry, books and games. She rents floor space for $100 a month, plus 10 percent of monthly sales. The cost for just shelf space is $45 a month, plus 10 percent of sales, according to Dave Jones.

Though the Curiosity Shoppe is young in comparison to other area flea markets, the Joneses aren’t new to the flea market business. After nearly nine years of managing scattered booths in Springfield, Branson and Ozark flea markets, the couple opened the shop to consolidate and supplement their upcoming retirement.

“I’m right at retirement age … and this is my relaxation,” Dave Jones says.[[In-content Ad]]

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