By Madison Fisler Lewis
Dec. 18, 2014. Anna Banana’s in downtown Boone has become the go-to place for students, locals and High Country visitors to nab the “best deals of the day” while shopping on a budget, without having to sacrifice great style. Known for years as one of the best places to grab an outfit or two at the best prices, the shop has recently undergone a major change with the addition of a menswear section. Though the addition itself is new, the plans to expand have been in the cards from the very beginning.
Anna Roseman, owner of the popular downtown consignment shop Anna Banana’s, never really saw herself as a small business owner in the beginning. Originally from Statesville, Roseman ventured up to Boone in the 1990s to attend college at Appalachian State University. After graduating from ASU, she made her way down to Charlotte, where she enjoyed 14-year career in the radio business. But after many years and many life changes, Roseman decided that she was in dire need of a change.
“I really just decided to simplify my lifestyle, so I moved up here to this awesome, beautiful, heavenly place,” Roseman said. “I moved back up here in 2010. It was a huge change in lifestyle for me. I went through a lot of changes in my life deciding to leave a career that had become all-consuming and putting the focus of my life on raising my daughter. Living here and being able to have my own business and be my own boss has allowed me the opportunity to do that.”
So, in October of 2010, Anna Banana’s opened its doors to the community, and quickly grew to become one of the King Street staples for the discerning college shopper.
“At the time, there wasn’t really any consignment going on around here,” she said. “Shopping when I was in school in the 90s was really hard, and it was hard when I got back up here too. You had the really expensive boutiques and then you had thrift stores like RAMs Rack, and those of us on a budget had limited options. There had to be a happy medium. The economy was really bad when we first opened up, and I knew that people here wanted to save money. I always figured that it wasn’t fair to not be able to afford the bigger brands, and in a college town, we had an opportunity to get great merchandise through a consignment shop and it also helps to keep things out of the landfills.”
To Roseman, the business also provided a way to help out the community and help to keep the environment healthy.
“It is good for the environment and it is good for the local economy,” she said. “I am not reliant on manufacturers or other countries for my merchandise, I am reliant on my customers and my consignors. I didn’t ever want to sell junk, and we don’t. We sell very nice products, various brands and manufacturers and we can offer quality products for a very affordable price this way. That is really important to me, and it keeps a lot of things from going to waste.”
Though the store is open to everyone, Roseman says that it is mostly college kids looking for a good bargain that shop at the store, and many of her loyal consignors come as often as they can.
“If you want to come into the store right now and get money for lunch, you can do that by bringing items in and selling them,” she said. “I have people that come every day to get lunch money or to buy a new outfit. Our consignors are always happy, our folks make good money.”
When the shop first started out back in the fall of 2010, Roseman knew that the idea would catch on.
“Our first few years in business were fine,” she said. “I had never been in business for myself before, so I wouldn’t call the years excellent, but I wouldn’t call them horrible either. I was satisfied enough with our success to move forward and continue to invest in it. We seemed to get favor quickly in the local community and we made a lot of friends locally.”
Since the start, Roseman has seen many changes come and go.
“The economy has gotten much better of course, and I would say that the quality and the variety of what we have to offer has gotten broader as more and more people have found us. We started out with nothing, but now we have 4,000 consignors and we are able to offer a lot more than before. We started with a limited men’s section, and it has really grown.”
Speaking of the men’s section, Anna Banana’s recently expanded the shop into a new, adjacent space that is currently dedicated to men’s clothing and accessories.
“We opened the men’s section on Oct. 1,” Roseman said. “The store behind moved, and there have been several stores that have come and gone in that space since we have been here, but every time someone moved out I hesitated. Winters are tough around here, but finally I decided to do it. The way I see it, if you are going to be in business, you might as well be all in.”
The new portion of the store is completely devoted to menswear and accessories like ties, hats, shoes and much more.
“It didn’t take long for us to realize that we needed to expand,” she said. “We realized that the inventory is out there and our community can support us with plenty of items to sell. Everybody has items that they don’t wear anymore. You go to a retailer and buy something, you wear it once and never wear it again. That is where we come in. We give you an opportunity to keep that piece out of the landfill and get it into someone else’s wardrobe.
Anna Banana’s is a unique concept, in that those wishing to bring in merchandise may opt for the cash-out option, or take a little bit more risk for a higher payout with the consignment option.
“A lot of the stores that target the college-age demographic only give you the cash option buy outs, but I wanted to give the students a way to invest their time, take a little bit more risk and possibly make more money. Consignment means that we take items and sell them for you, and the consignor gets 40 percent of what we sell it for, versus just 20 percent with the cash option. With consignment, you get paid when the item sells.”
For those interested in bringing in items to sell or consign, Roseman maintains that the style of the item matters much more than the brand.
“Current styles always rule,” Roseman said. “It doesn’t matter as much about the brand as long as it is current style, and Boone definitely has a very different style from other places. We do well with lots of flannels, sweaters and warm things. Our customer is hip and takes a little more risk with their fashion. We enjoy being able to offer fresh and unique finds.”
Anna Banana’s takes items on Mondays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. without an appointment. To sell items, just walk in and drop off your items to be inspected by the store’s staff. Items should be in good condition, and items must be clean.
“We like to keep it to about 30 items at a time, and we are looking for things that are in the current season. We really prefer current styles,” she said.
For the rest of the week, simply call and make an appointment to have your items inspected.
While Anna Banana’s has done remarkably well on the business side, Roseman maintains that the most rewarding part of her business is the customers.
“My customers, hands down, are the most rewarding part of this,” she said. “My customers have turned into friends, we care about each others’ families and what they did that weekend and goals and dreams. We really share a lot with each other and I really don’t think I could ever leave this business just because of that. I love it when a person walks out of the store feeling great about what they just bought. I love when someone gets the best deal of the day at my store, that is why I do this.”
Roseman also mentioned the importance of giving back to the community that has already given her so much.
“Anytime there is a local fundraiser, we are almost always involved,” she said. “I can’t even keep up with all of the things we have been able to do, which is a blessing. We love to give and to support our community, and we are always looking for more opportunities to help out. If people need clothes or want to talk to me about possible fundraisers, I am always up for that conversation. We have a great partnership with the Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge, we have been working together for years. Those ladies have had a huge influence in my life and in my business. We sell clothes on their behalf to help raise money for the organization. So many ladies from that organization have really taken me on and given me encouragement and guidance and support, so it is great to give back.”
And as for the future, while Roseman can see some further expansion on the horizon, for now, she wants to focus on her daughter.
“Someday, maybe after my daughter graduates high school, I might expand and have more stores out of Boone,” she said. “But right now, I don’t want to travel and she comes first. But we will see. Who knows what the future holds.”
For more information about Anna Banana’s, call 828-865-2000 or click here.
Photos by Ken Ketchie