When Judi Henderson-Townsend replied to a Craigslist ad saying she wanted to buy a mannequin, she had no plans to start a business. She intended to use the mannequin as garden décor. However, when she arrived at a warehouse filled with mannequins and learned that the owner was closing his mannequin rental business and leaving the state, Henderson-Townsend found herself embarking on a new business venture. And it’s become an economic and environmental success.
After purchasing all 50 mannequins in the warehouse, Henderson-Townsend increased her inventory to 500 mannequins over six months. She began selling and renting the used mannequins in the San Francisco Bay Area. Many businesses and individuals were interested in obtaining mannequins for everything from trade shows to art projects, and Henderson-Townsend was able to supply what they needed.
Additionally, this new business, which Henderson-Townsend named Mannequin Madness, began providing another service. For businesses that needed to liquidate old mannequins after a store closing or renovation, Mannequin Madness was there, ready to take those landfill-bound items off their hands. In 2003, Mannequin Madness received a special achievement award from the Environmental Protection Agency for recycling more than 100,000 pounds of mannequins in one year, and that number has only gone up.
“It’s possible to have a unique business in the recycling industry that’s also fun,” Henderson-Townsend says. “Fashion isn’t known for being environmentally friendly. I like to consider myself into fashion, but I also want to be green, and it’s true that the two can coexist.”
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