116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Marion resale shop inspired by a TV show
By Steve Gravelle, correspondent
Aug. 19, 2019 11:30 am, Updated: Aug. 20, 2019 10:39 am
MARION - 'You'd be surprised how often people don't pay their bills,” Randy Gibson said one recent morning.
Gibson of Cedar Rapids is one of the three behind 3 Guys Resale, which builds its inventory from belongings left behind in rented storage units. If that sounds a lot like the popular cable TV show 'Storage Wars,” there's a reason.
'I was watching it one day and said, ‘I could do that,'” Gibson recalled. 'And we did. Started with a minivan, and it just kind of grew from there.”
For about eight years, Gibson sold his salvage out of his garage in southwest Cedar Rapids, but inventory continued to grow. Participation in storage-unit auctions led Gibson to Tonya Thomas, who works at CR Area Storage.
They decided to join forces this summer.
'He told me they had a warehouse with a storefront,” said Thomas, who became the second 'guy” when the storefront opened July 27.
The third is Shane Powers. Thomas organizes the store displays and supervises its marketing and social media presence.
'I just help out,” Powers said.
The trio has received 'great feedback” in the few weeks the store's been open, Thomas said.
Gibson sold a lot of tools at his garage sales, but 3 Guys draws a new demographic.
'It's different, from garage sale to store,” he said. 'In this kind of store setting, it's 98 percent women, 25 to 34. Clothes are very popular.”
The store reflects its clientele, with racks of designer clothing, sunglasses and jewelry among the die cast model cars, sports memorabilia and household goods.
'I'm a resale shopper,” Thomas said. 'I like thrift stores, Goodwill, that kind of thing. I never go in looking for a certain thing - it's always, ‘Oh, look at that.'”
Thomas said her storage businesses hosts three to five rental-unit auctions a year. The process begins when a renter falls five weeks behind, and she files a lien on the unit's contents to cover the debt.
The process takes about two months and includes efforts to notify delinquent renters via certified mail and newspaper ads.
Thomas videotapes the opening of a storage unit and the subsequent bidding.
Bidders aren't allowed to enter the storage unit, but Gibson has become adept at sizing up their contents.
'They open it up, you look at it,” he said. 'They'll give you as long as you need to look.”
Merchandise at 3 Guys will be rotated with the seasons.
'We have all the coats and heavy sweaters put away now,” Thomas said.
Thomas still is looking for a local artist to create a sign for the store. But she and Gibson already have plans to expand beyond the 1,700-square-foot space.
'We've got tons of furniture,” said Gibson, who is eying the Domino Pizza franchise next door.
'If that doesn't happen, there will be another store just for furniture,” he said.
While Thomas posts photos of sample inventory, she has no plans for online sales.
While 3 Guys will sell about anything its partners can find in an abandoned storage unit, Thomas has drawn a line.
'Twice we've come across cremated remains,” she said. 'We can't get ahold of the families or anything, so they're sitting in my office because I'm not going to throw them away.”
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AT A GLANCE
' Owner: Randy Gibson
' Business: 3 Guys Resale
' Address: 1394 Seventh Ave., Marion
' Phone: 319-671-2578
' Website: facebook.com/3guysgaragesale