Shelley Leadem is no stranger to the business world, having been in real estate for 20 years in her native Hollister, but the new owner of The Empty Nest admits that working in retail is a whole new world.
Leadem and her husband relocated to Oakdale three years ago due to a job change and quickly fell in love with the small town.
“My husband got a job in Modesto and we relocated to Oakdale because it reminded us of Hollister with its small-town environment. We love Oakdale. Absolutely love it. It’s close enough to big shopping if we need to and so centrally located, it’s awesome. Plus I love the community. They’ve all been so wonderful since opening.”
Leadem reopened the shop on May 1 and has been working to keep the same feel as the previous owners had with the eclectic shop, as well as adding her own personal flair. One of the projects she’s undertaken is transforming the upstairs area to hold classes and birthday parties in a room that has a ‘50s retro look.
“I used to be a shopper here. I always knew I could get a nice gift and have it wrapped and walk out having spent $10 to 15,” Leadem said. “I want to continue to offer that same kind of value to my customers.”
For those new to the scene, The Empty Nest offers repurposed items that have been restored and renewed from their original purpose. For example, an antique coffee pot that has been restored can start a new life as a unique flowerpot.
“We have repurposed furniture; old furniture that has been redone and restored. We have the old flavor with a new spin on it,” Leadem said. “I just absolutely love my products. I love homes and decorating. How great is this? I get to shop for a living.”
Leadem also has vendors offering their wares for sale in the shop and she’s open to seeing new items if they fit within the sphere of what she offers. If she likes what she sees and the price is right, she purchases the item, as she doesn’t offer consignment.
“I’m open to looking at items from people but I must be able to offer good prices to the customers. The Empty Nest has a reputation for offering affordable prices,” Leadem said.
Prior to her career in real estate, Leadem was in manufacturing as a production control manager. She admits that experience has come in handy as she manages her own inventory.
“With retail, cash flow is key. Managing and understanding inventory is also important,” Leadem said. “I’m very aware of my inventory. We have one-of-a-kind things. Trying to figure out what the clientele is really interested in is the challenge. I’m trying to get a good feel of what the community is after. There’s a sharper learning curve than I thought there’d be, but I’m up to the challenge.”
As a woman in charge of her own business, she offers the following advice to women interested in following in her footsteps to entrepreneurship:
“Pursue your dreams and do something you really love. If you love what you’re doing it doesn’t matter how hard it is. Get as educated as you can. Get a business plan and just go for it,” she said.
The Empty Nest is at 116 North Third Ave. in Oakdale.
For more information, call 209-847-9300.