Take 5

Good, Better, Best For this Guy

Tim Herndon and James Cook have had their antique store, Good, Better, Best, on Encinal Avenue for almost 13 years. Herndon talks about some exciting changes they’ve made to their business and shares with us some lesser-known tidbits.

1. For many years your business was just a wonderful hodgepodge of treasures, but it is different now.
About a year ago we remodeled our space and have focused more on collectibles and antiques and less on odds and ends. For the first time, we created a large space available for dealers to display special items. We also moved all of the large pieces away from the window, giving the store more natural light. Next, we moved our desk more toward the front of the store and converted our storage space into a little library. One change led to another, and we ended up totally transforming the place.

2. What was your inspiration to make such changes?
After seeing a friend’s store in Lafayette, we got inspired and excited to create a similar atmosphere. We loved how the Lafayette store had lit cases that lined the wall, making the shopping experience very pleasant. We found it to be well organized and even elegant—so much that it motivated us to try and create the same feel at our store. Now not only is our place more inviting to our customers, but it is more inviting to us, the storeowners.

3. Has it helped your business?
Yes, by about 40 percent. Foot traffic in general has increased as well. We now draw a broader clientele. It’s amazing what an impact re-arranging and re-thinking a business space can do.

4. Do you accept consignments from people who aren’t dealers?
For sure; we always have. Customers who consign with us get 60 percent of the profit from the sale of their item. We are selective about what we accept but are always open to looking at whatever people want to show us. I learn something new every day from what people bring in for consignment. The history and value of the various heirlooms and antiques are so fascinating. We have a wish list that gives us the opportunity to know what to look for and what to bring in when we see it. We’ve had great luck with this program.

5. How did you guys learn to value merchandise?
Our interest in antiques and collectibles started at the flea market about 20 years ago. It was there that we began to train our eye. We started reading books, watching lots of shows, taking classes, attending auctions and using the invaluable Internet to get educated. The world of treasure-hunting—and being in business—is hard work but is a lot of fun. Customers always comment that not only do we know what we’re doing, but that we also seem to like what we do. They’re absolutely right.

This article appears in the December 2012 issue of Alameda Magazine
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