Editor’s Note: Kicks presents 20Q, a feature that introduces readers to people involved in the area’s arts and entertainment community. Compiled by kicks Editor Greg Little, each piece will include a short bio, photo and answers to questions that provide insight into not only that person’s artistic interests but also his or her unique personality.
If you’ve ever wandered into Carousel Consignments in downtown Janesville (the shop with the rainbow awning), you’ve most likely been welcomed by Joni Bozart. Usually behind the counter, the ever-friendly Bozart acts as a sort of curator for the shop, which is home to countless trappings and treasures.
Bozart opened the store at 31 S. Main St. with her husband, Larry, in 1991. The couple are strong advocates for Janesville’s downtown, and they consider it a perfect location for the ever-popular Carousel.
A native of Edgerton, Bozart was born to a large family and had “the nicest parents you could ever ask for.” She met her husband more than 40 years ago as co-workers at the former Hoffman House in Janesville, where Larry was executive chef.
When the two aren’t at work, they focus on family. The Bozarts have three grown children: Chris (wife Kim and son Hudson) in San Diego; Tiffany (husband Aaron, sons Elijah and Issac and daughter Olivia) in Toulouse, France, and son Jay, who lives nearby. Joni and Larry hope to travel a bit this year, for obvious reasons.
To learn more, search Facebook for “Carousel Consignments” or watch a video filmed during the store’s 20th anniversary at Gazettextra.com/Carousel.
1. How did you get into the consignment business? It was a family dinner 28 years ago. My aunt, who was involved with a shop in Milwaukee, said to my mother, “You should open a consignment shop.” My mother replied, “No, I’m too old.” I yelled, “Well, I’m not!”
2. Being a consignment store owner must be a lot like being museum curator. Do you ever have a hard time parting with “exhibits”? We have seen so many amazing items come in over the years. Luckily, I can fall in love with something and let it go.
3. What did you have for supper last night? Leftovers. My husband, the ex-chef, does all the cooking, and he always makes too much. There are always leftovers.
4. Name one item in your store that you’re surprised hasn’t been purchased, or one that you are surprised ever was. Every day, I am surprised by what does and doesn’t sell. When we first opened, I was advised not to handle books because “nobody buys them.” They were so wrong. We sell tons of books and other paper goods.
5. Share one of the stranger things that have been brought in for you to purchase? A monkey fur coat. The stranger items that come into the store usually involve hair or fur.
6. What is it about owning items from the past that makes us feel all warm inside? Sometimes you’ll see someone “light up” or even brought to tears over an item. It must bring back a memory of a loved one. If it’s a toy they loved, it’s like they are a happy child again.
7. How did you come up with the name Carousel Consignments? I loved the carnival as a child. I wanted the store to be a happy place where customers can have fun.
8. Do you embrace social media, or would you rather it just went away? I got into social media when my kids moved far away. How else would you know what they were up to? Now, it is an important tool for business. I wonder if we aren’t all getting a little tired of it.
9. At the grocery store, what item always goes in your cart whether you need it or not? Ice cream. It’s great to have a smorgasbord of ice cream in the freezer.
10. With the popularity of shows such as “American Pickers,” do you find it harder to get people to sell items for a fair price? Does everyone think their old items are “treasure”? Modern-day prices are tough on sellers but great for buyers. Most people understand the real world of fair-market values. Disappointed, but accepting.
11. Because she didn’t know their value, a friend’s mom sold his comic books at a garage sale for almost nothing. Have you ever purchased an item for the store, sold it and then found out it was worth much more than you asked for it? This is a huge issue. My biggest nightmare is one of my shoppers is on “Antiques Roadshow” with something from the store. I have many experts that are willing to help identify, research and appraise the items that are out of my league. The biggest problems are those things you would never dream are worth money. Everything in this store is consigned, and it would break my heart to “miss” something. I take this very seriously.
12. What are some of the most sought-after “vintage” items floating around out there today? Coins, jewelry, Parker pens, old metal signs, pocket watches, architecture, local items, mid-century glass, paper ephemera, primitives, antique toys, cast iron and any quality antique. I could go on and on. People may be surprised that we have as many male shoppers as women, so “guy stuff” is always in demand.
13. Research shows millennials have little interest in inheriting their parents’ “stuff.” Has that had an effect on your store, or do young people still buy antiques and collectibles? We have so many young shoppers. It is true they might not like what you like, but they find plenty to buy. And they do a lot of giggling.
14. How long does an item need to sit on your floor/shelves before you give up on it? No need to give up; everything sells. It might need a price adjustment, but it will sell.
15. What are some items you’ll turn away because you know they won’t sell or you have too many already? What are some you’re always on the lookout for? That list of high-demand items in Question 12 is always welcomed. We really don’t need any limited-edition collector plates or Avon bottles. There are some dish sets that are tough to sell, as well.
16. Once you’ve purchased an item for the store, does it get a designated spot, or do you move it around occasionally so it doesn’t just blend into the background? Larry is an organizational freak. Once we set something down, we hate to move it.
17. Where is your favorite place to unwind? My front porch on a nice day. We have a cozy log home just outside of town, and I love it there.
18. Share something people would be surprised to find out about you. I don’t collect anything and, no, my home doesn’t look like the store.
19. If you weren’t the owner of Carousel Consignments, what would you be doing for a living? Probably working at the post office. I received a call for a position a couple months after we opened, but Carousel took off so fast that we never looked back.
20. What is one vintage item that, no matter what, you can’t imagine ever coming back into style? I’m sure that whatever I said, I would someday eat my words. You know, it’s like the carousel. This stuff just keeps going around and around.