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It’s a new beginning for The Turquoise Door in Oshkosh

Winnebago County consignment shop upgrades to a bigger space

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February 6, 2024

OSHKOSH — The Turquoise Door, a consignment shop in Oshkosh, is getting a fresh start — opening in a new location at 457 N. Main St.

With its grand opening just days ago, Melissa Ochowicz — who owns the shop with her husband Tanner — said it’s been a long journey since opening in 2020.

How it all started
Ochowicz said she’s long had an interest in second-hand shopping but only started to consider starting her own business shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve been into second-hand shopping and consignment almost my entire adult life and have kicked around the idea for a long time,” she said. “But, I’d say we started talking seriously about opening a shop a couple of years before we opened in 2020.”

Ochowicz said she leased space for the store at 511 Main St. in February 2020 — one month before the government started closing non-essential businesses due to the pandemic.

“We had to decide to stick with it knowing we would have to continue paying rent and bills with no income while we were also unsure of when or if the pandemic would end,” she said.

Staying the course, Ochowicz opened The Turquoise Door in June 2020 — which Ochowicz said conventionally coincided with Oshkosh’s first Farmers’ Market, which drew a large crowd.

“By the time we opened in June, we were completely out of money and the pandemic was still in effect, but people were excited to get outside and go to the farmers’ market, so a lot of people showed up and we did better than expected,” she said. “That day gave us some hope and drive to keep it going.”

A family affair
Ochowicz said The Turquoise Door is a family business — with her husband as co-owner and her daughter Sonia serving as store manager.

“The business’ impact on the family dynamic has its pros and cons,” Ochowicz said. “Luckily, Sonia and I have a close relationship, and we know it’s important to keep an open line of communication. Overall, I feel blessed to be able to spend time and work with Sonia.”

Decisions, decisions, decisions
As a consignment store, Ochowicz said one of the challenges facing The Turquoise Door was deciding which second-hand goods to accept.

Ochowicz said she knew she wanted to curate a collection of items like plants, eclectic home decor, local handmade items and women’s fashion/accessories.

“We started with a lot of trial and error and having a general sense of what people like, but we also set a minimum standard for consignment,” she said.

Ochowicz said The Turquoise Door doesn’t accept items that are more than three years old, and items have to be in great condition.

“We have been lucky with our consignors,” she said. “The majority of our consignors have been with us for several years, and they know what we like and bring in amazing stuff.”

The Turquoise Door, Ochowicz said, relies largely on the community to sustain a supply of trusted consignors.

“We work completely by word of mouth,” she said. “If we have a new consignor bring in beautiful, high-end items, we might mention that ‘if you know anyone (who has stuff to encourage them to reach out)’ — so far our consignors have been amazing.”

Part of The Turquoise Door’s success, Ochowicz said, comes from its consistent presence on social media, which Sonia manages.

Melissa Ochowicz said The Turquoise Door’s new location is almost three times the size of its former location, which provides room to grow. Submitted Photo

Ochowicz said social media helps the shop engage customers — even hosting regular giveaways on its Facebook page.

“We attempt to keep everyone informed via social media, but we hope to utilize it more in the future,” she said. “Right now, Sonia updates our social media. We started right away with giveaways with the idea of growing our followers, and it worked well. We have a decent following, and we hope to offer more giveaways this year and grow our audience.”

Supporting the community
Ochowicz said The Turquoise Door also gives back to the community — specifically through two local charities: Helping Hands of Winnebago County and Cherith.

“Giving back is important to us and having this type of store allows us to help,” she said. “We can’t take all of the credit though. The majority of our consignors decide to donate their items that don’t sell. We are then able to facilitate those donations to Helping Hands of Winnebago County and Cherith. We decided to do our best to strictly work with these two organizations because they don’t sell the items, they help people who are directly in need. We appreciate being able to help.”

Ochowicz said The Turquoise Door has also supported the community by holding a hygiene drive and haircuts for the homeless with neighboring business Divine Beauty and allowing local Girl Scout troops to sell their cookies in-store.

Ochowicz said The Turquoise Door customers and consignors “are our friends.”

“We are grateful to have so much support and to be surrounded by great people,” she said. “They have been there for us through thick and thin, and they have been our driving force through the hard times.”

The relocation
After more than three years in business, Ochowicz said The Turquoise Door officially outgrew its former location at 511 N. Main Street — prompting the move to a new, larger store, which she said opens up opportunities for the future.

“We do not yet host private events, but it is something we have talked about and we frequently get asked about,” she said. “Our new location is much bigger, so we are hoping we will be able to offer it in the future.”

Ochowicz said the moving process has been intensive, with her family working around the clock to renovate and prepare the new space.

“It was previously a health food store, so we had to start from the ground up, but (it came) together,” she said. “Our new location is a major upgrade for us. It’s almost three times as big as our (old) location and has some potential room to grow.”

That potential growth, Ochowicz said, also includes additional consignors and staff members.

“We hope to start accepting new consignors again and hopefully offer more amazing items,” she said. “We are also planning to hire some new employees and offer our consignors faster turnover.”

For more information on The Turquoise Door, visit the shop’s Facebook Page.

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