8-19-14: Emerald Ridge grad excels as consignment boutique owner
8-19-14: Emerald Ridge grad excels as consignment boutique owner
Posted on 08/19/2014

The first time she saw it, she knew it was a dream come true.

 

So Ashley (Walton) Hearron parked her car and walked up the street to get a closer look.

 

There, next to the railroad tracks along Meridian Street in downtown Puyallup, was a small rundown storefront with a vacancy sign in the window.

 

Perfect, she thought.

Four years later, that dark, empty building is brightly decorated and bustling with customers as a successful consignment boutique.

 

The 2005 Emerald Ridge High School graduate not only owns the business, but manages two employees who help her sell the new and gently used women’s clothing, shoes, jewelry, and other accessories.

 

“Ashley’s Room,” which she named after herself, is open seven days a week at 111 No. Meridian St. Clothing items range from casual to semi-formal and from size 00 to 3X.

 

“I like to say the store is for the young and young at heart,” she said. “I offer trendy, fun, unique items that are current styles, cute, and affordable. It’s for all ages, really.”

 

Hearron attended Sunrise Elementary and Ferrucci Junior High before enrolling in classes at Emerald Ridge High. It was during high school, under the leadership of retired business teacher Randy Walden, that she first learned about business and marketing.

 

Following high school, Hearron took some time off school, attended Bible college for a year, and then enrolled at Western Washington University in Bellingham. She graduated in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in communications.

 

Hearron was working at the time at a tanning salon in Bellingham, and her boss encouraged her to “pick something you like to do and do it,” she said.

 

Having shopped consignment stores with her friends during high school and college, Hearron thought it would be fun to own her own shop. 

 

After finding the ideal location in Puyallup, her father David Walton helped her brighten the store’s appearance by building a wooden façade resembling black and white striped curtains. The curtains are designed so they appear to be draped across the front window and pulled back with a bright yellow ribbon.

 

Her mother Lynne Walton, the librarian at Shaw Road Elementary School, painted a wall mural on the inside of the store, and Hearron’s friends contributed bags of consignment items.

 

It wasn’t long, Hearron recalls, before her store shelves were full of quality items and she was ready to open.

 

Hearron uses mustard yellow accents, such as vases of sunflowers, to decorate her boutique. She also tucks small tables, hutches, and other furniture accents such as a day bed around her clothing racks to create “a cozy feel,” she said.

 

A pair of pink pumps, a shimmery beige top, and a string of pearls were among recent items that welcomed shoppers through the doors. Jewelry is frequently draped over clothing to suggest ready-to-go outfits.

 

Shoppers browsing the racks will also find dresses, skirts, jeans, dress pants, blazers, sweaters, tops, hats, and scarves in all colors and styles. Shoes include sandals and high-heeled pumps, as well as tennis shoes and boots.  While she briefly tried selling men’s consignment items, Hearron said she quickly reverted to focusing solely on women’s clothes and accessories.

 

Hearron keeps items for up to 90 days and, if sold, pays consignors 40 percent of the selling price.

 

In her first year, Hearron learned to limit the number of consignment items she allows customers to drop off at each visit, and established specific days to accept those items.

 

“People were bringing me garbage bags full of stuff in their trucks, and it was way too much to organize at one time,” she said.

 

Her only regret, she said, is she wished she would have taken college classes to learn more about business taxes. “I learn as I go,” she said, adding she also receives help from her husband, Patrick Hearron.

 

Hearron said she enjoys the consignment business because of the fast turnover of new merchandise and the ability to create a welcoming atmosphere where she can get to know local families.

 

Having attended Puyallup schools from kindergarten through her senior year, Hearron welcomes having students complete school-required job shadows at her boutique. She shares her successes, as well as what she has learned, from her first experience as a business owner.

 

She said she doesn’t feel in competition with other consignment stores in the area. “I think we all complement each other, and we send each other customers all the time,” she said.

 

The 27-year-old, who commutes to work from Renton, is a member of the Puyallup Main Street Association.

 

She has considered opening a second consignment store in another location, but is committed to keeping Ashley’s Room exactly where it is in Puyallup.

 

As a Sounder train rumbled by, she smiled and said, “I can’t imagine having it anywhere else.”