Cathy Jean’s fills collectible void
April 12, 2004
Thirteen years ago when Cathy Garner opened her gift shop, Cathy Jean’s, she never dreamed a customer might actually stalk her for merchandise.
But such extremes exist in the world of collectibles.
And as the largest distributor of Beanie Babies in Nevada, Garner has seen it all.
Cathy Jean’s, soon to leave its Moana Lane location for a new one in Sparks, specializes in home decor and gifts …”Everything but jeans!” Merchandise includes Yankee and Salt City candles and accessories, charm bracelets, seasonal decorations, and various collectibles such as Beanie Babies.
“We got on the Beanie Baby bandwagon about eight years ago,” says Garner, “and because of our customer service, we became No.
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In fact, customers have been so happy with Cathy Jean’s service that the store recently was featured in “Mary Beth’s Bean Bag World,” the Beanie Babies collector magazine.
It was the only West Coast store with this distinction.
“In the beginning,Ty made them so that you could only order a certain amount, and that used to make them difficult to find,” says Garner.
“We didn’t play the game other stores did, which meant hiding the hard-to-find ones and selling them for $50.We kept our Beanie Babies at $6.95, always.
And they still are $6.95 to this very day.
That made our customers aware of who was overcharging, and who was being fair.”
Back then, Cathy Jean’s could sell 28 cases of Beanie Babies in about three hours.
Fanatics for these tiny stuffed treasures lined up overnight at her door to buy new releases.
Due to the “one Beanie per customer” quotas, demand was extraordinary.
“We had someone pay the UPS driver $50 to see where he was going next,” remembers Garner.
“We had merchandise stolen out of our boxes.
I actually was stalked twice by Ty customers! They called my son at home.
It was weird.
At one point I actually had too many people in the store at one time, and the fire department got called.”
Garner paid for a cruise after selling her own Beanie Bear collection.
“They were worth bucks back then.
Now the values have dropped, and the people that still do it do it because they love it.”
Although she made some longtime customers and friends during those crazy times, she is glad those days are gone.
Garner’s customer service is still going strong, whether it’s for Beanie Babies or other merchandise.
She calls or e-mails customers when new styles of their favorite collectible arrive, and she will even come to a customer’s home, at no charge, to assist with home decorating.
And this month, because the store will be closed due to relocation, Garner will personally deliver orders to her customers’ homes.
“We moved [to Moana Lane] because it was such a busy street.
But it’s too busy, and the location is too hard to get into,” says Garner.
Her new location will be at the Sparks Marina Marketplace, at the corner of Sparks Boulevard and Prater Way.
The store will be the same, but the name will become Country Clutter.
Garner and her husband purchased a Country Clutter franchise in order to have greater buying power.
Even though the store’s name is different, the merchandise they carry will remain the same.
Country Clutter is scheduled to open in the first week of May with a second location planned in Reno later this year.
“We’re really one of those traditional mom-and-pop stores,” Garner says.
“We believe in bending over backward for the customer, making sure they get what they want.
And if we don’t have it, we’ll help them find it.”