When a friend suggested they open a consignment shop together, Jan Wittenbach thought it was a terrible idea.
"My friend Judy Lovic saw this idea up in Rhode Island at a store called the Stock Exchange and she said, 'I really would like to open one of these shops.'
"To me it sounded awful. I could just picture dirty old sofas," Ms. Wittenbach says. "But I went with her to see the one in Rhode Island and then I got really excited. I could see it had possibility."
That possibility became reality and the Clearing House, one of the oldest and largest consignment shops in the area, is just celebrating its 11th birthday this month.
The shop, off Padonia Road in Timonium, is packed with all kinds furniture, antiques, lamps, mirrors, pictures, jewelry, china and linens. And not a dirty old sofa in sight. Some of the furniture, in fact, is brand new, having come from model apartments.
"The majority of the items in here are brought to us by private individuals who want to sell things, but occasionally we'll get model apartments and entire estates," says Ms. Wittenbach, who recently took over as sole owner of the Clearing House when Ms. Lovic moved out of state.
"I think with the economic situation right now, our sales are increasing. People are looking for bargains and they're also looking to make a little money," she says.
Prices at the Clearing House are reduced every 30 days. "Usually there's very little left after three months."
It's a little hard to find the Clearing House the first time. It's located at 200 W. Padonia Road in Padonia Park, but you have to turn north onto Broad Road, go one block and turn left into a parking lot driveway. Go about two blocks west to a small retail and wholesale complex. "If I tell people it's near the Padonia Fitness Center or behind the Parlay Cafe, they can usually find us," she adds.
The hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays. The telephone number is 561-4546.