Various mentions in the press about Kit Rodenbough – the owner of Design Archives™
July 2007: A Greensboro News-Record article about Kit and the move of Design Archives from Market Street to Tate Street:
» Move from downtown a ‘win-win’
Kit Rodenbough has been living in a fantasy world.
At least, that’s how Greensboro’s top vintage clothing maven describes her store: “A fantasy-fun lifestyle vision.”
That vision, of a freewheeling and funky retail world populated by plush furs, loud minidresses, wedge heels and structured handbags, is about to change.
After six years and $1-million worth of vintage clothing and accessories sold at East Market and Church streets, Design Archives is packing its old suitcases, hatboxes and steamer trunks and moving out of downtown.
Just over a week ago, Rodenbough signed a lease on a new space – the former Lagerhaus bar and restaurant on Tate Street. She plans to reopen there Sept. 1, six years to the day from when her store first opened at 304 E. Market St.
“We’re going to become a serious retail operation,” she says. “For six years now, I have had fun with it and enjoyed every moment, and I’m not going to stop doing that. But I didn’t really know what I was doing six years ago.”
Now, Rodenbough has a clear plan: A downsized shop offering seasonal vintage collections that rotate weekly and appeal mainly to college-age shoppers, who comprise about 70 percent of her customers.
With her current building up for redevelopment by a group of local investors, she’s been spurred to put that plan into action quickly.
“I knew they were looking at it a couple of months ago,” she says of the developers, who plan to turn that downtown corner into a revived office and retail complex. “And, at first, it was kind of a shock. .. and then as it kind of became a reality and I live with the idea, then I realized that, hey, this is going to be great.
“It’s going to be a win-win-for all of us.”
But the move is going to require some adjustments.
In 5,000 square feet downtown, Design Archives already is bursting at the seams. The new shop is only 3,200 square feet, and the former kitchen there will be used for an archive research room, where designers for brands such as Izod,, Urban Outfitters and Tommy Hilfiger can find inspiration from fabric swatches.
Only 25 percent of Rodenbough’s near-boundless inventory will make it onto the new floor compared to about 50 percent at her current location. The smaller space, she says, means she’ll have to move items out the door more quickly, rotating clothing and accessories often.
She’s leased nearby warehouse space for her overflow treasures, culled from consignors, customers and estates, and she plans to stop taking new merchandise until the move is complete.
Downsizing presents a challenge. But, she says, it brings another fantasy closer to reality: A chain of Design Archives stores dotting the country.
“Now that we have defined our customer as the student and the astute fashionista, my next plan is, in four years, to have this as a prototype to now take to Asheville and to Wilmington,” Rodenbough said.
A smaller space will be easier for her to duplicate in other cities mostly college towns where vintage already is popular â€” whether she decides to run the stores herself or franchise them out to a trusted local person in each new market.
“I’d never find a 5,000-square-foot space in any town. I got really lucky,” she says of her space downtown. “I got in at the right time, but these are the last days of people finding something like that.”
To help pay for the move, Rodenbough has planned a last hurrah at the downtown shop. She’ll host a retro dance party there starting at 6 p.m. on Aug. 11. Admission will be $5.
“I’m so excited,” she says. “It’s going to be a new adventure and, you know, anytime you make a change like that, for me, it just puts an incredibly amount of energy into that new adventure. And you just get revitalized.”
© Greensboro News-Record 2007
» Kit Rodenbough Interview
Excerpts taken from an online article about the owner of Design Archives.
"…To step into Design Archives on East Market Street in downtown Greensboro is to step back into the early 20th century, only with the conveniences and business-sense of our modern age.
Beaded clutches, petticoats and dresses adorned with lace decorate every corner. Men’s seersucker sport coats hang below old fedoras and vintage Hawaiian shirts. Costume and estate jewelry conjure up memories of playing at Grandma’s house for every girl that enters. Even the smell — musty, warm and thick — takes visitors back in time.
This is Kit Rodenbough’s brainchild. And a unique combination of passion and desperation led to this: a retail store that sells vintage and antique clothing and furniture…
In May 2001 Kit was driving through Greensboro and saw an empty storefront on East Market. On a whim, she inquired and took a look inside. The shop had recently been a photo studio, but it opened in 1921 as a Cadillac showroom. The interior space, with tile floors and tall ceilings, was inherently dramatic. Something clicked. ‘The real estate agent opened up those doors,’ she says gesturing inside, where two large glass doors stretch open, ‘and I just had this vision — an instant realization that, ‘This is for me.’…
Walking through her store, Rodenbough delicately touches the antiques and details their history, right down to who owned it and what room it came from. While 90 percent of her inventory is from consignments (she has 370 consigners), the rest comes from estate sales and yard sale shopping…
Rodenbough clearly loves what she does. Sitting outside the store she greets customers by name, compliments them on new pieces of jewelry they’re wearing and has a genuine rapport with them that isn’t found at huge retail establishments….
(Some) years into it, she’s found her niche, and she’s sticking with it: ‘We have something for everyone. But at the same time we’re not for everyone — and that’s OK.’ "
© The Business Journal/Triad Bizwomen.com 2004
Read the full article: http://tampabay.bizjournals.com/bizwomen/triad/content/story.html?id=995957