By Sarah Kuper
Scoring a great find at a consignment or resale shop is a point of pride nowadays, but Lynda Rothoff said it wasn’t always that way.
“Consignment shopping was sort of taboo when we first opened,” she said. “Customers would park and come in through the back and leave through the back. Back then, people thought of consignment stores like they thought of Goodwill.”
In the same location on Linden Avenue in Homewood for 35 years, Rothoff’s Korduroy Krocodile was one of the first high-end children’s consignment stores in the Over the Mountain area.
Rothoff has lived in Edgewood for 43 years. After retirement from the corporate world left her restless, she started Korduroy Krocodile.
She quickly learned that, despite the stigma, a childrens’ consignment store was needed in the area; she had 100 consigners in her first month.
Since then, business has grown and Rothoff has opened up more floor space and begun to offer a wider range of clothes, shoes, toys and accessories, always keeping standards high.
She said her shop’s longevity has kept her aware of childrens’ clothing trends.
“The clothes have gotten more casual, but of course you still see that Southern flare – smocking and pleating. Older kids are wanting more of the brand name clothes like Under Armor.”
While Rothoff and her staff sift through merchandise to offer the highest quality, she suspects that isn’t the only thing bringing customers back.
“It’s so much about the relationships. People will come by to relax and browse and say, ‘Hi.’ Sometimes people just come to talk and even have a good cry on a bad day.”
Mandi Travis, a long-time employee, recalls a time when a customer overheard her talk about a Bible study lesson.
“I was talking about what we were learning and she came back and told Lynda later about how she was impacted by what she overheard,” Travis said.
Rothoff said she is thankful to be a part of her loyal customers’ lives, especially now that she is seeing a second generation shop for their children.
“Parents come in and comment about how they used to play in the toy bin while their mothers shopped for them,” she said.
Owning a small business for 35 years has been a blessing to Rothoff, though maybe not in the financial sense.
“I’m not the wealthiest shop owner, but in reality I am. God works in wonderful ways.”
Rothoff said she also has been blessed with wonderful employees and helpers including Travis and her granddaughter Sophie Shunnarah.
Shunnarah said Korduroy Krocodile essentially is a second home and she values the relationships she has built as a child and a young adult.
“Someone will come in and ask, ‘Do you think this will look good on my daughter?’ and we will know exactly who she is talking about,” Shunnarah said.
Even after 35 years, Rothoff said she doesn’t often think about retiring.
“If I retire or sell the business, it will be in the fine print that I still get to work here,” she said.
As far as a way to commemorate 35 years, Rothoff said it has been a busy summer and she’s not sure how she will celebrate.
“I guess I’ll have to think of something special to do!”