By Bonnie Kallenberg, NARTS Director
Owner of Finders Keepers with four locations in Atlanta, GA

My first NARTS Conference experience was in San Francisco 1996. I was a little nervous about the unknown and did not know what to expect from the whole experience so I opted NOT to sign up for the resale shop bus tour. However, it wasn’t long into my first day of Conference that I realized what I had missed.

Attendees were going on and on about all they had learned while on the bus tour the day before and I was green with envy and annoyed with myself. Needless to say, I have not missed another bus tour in 19 years as an attendee at our conferences or seminars. I always register myself and my managers for the bus tour and plan our travel schedule accordingly.

A lot of networking and information sharing takes place on the bus between stops. I have made great friends while spending the day together with peers and have gotten many great ideas from the shops on the tours. Just one of the great ideas I got is pictured below this article and it solved a problem I had for years. You see, in the first six years that my furniture store was open, I lost about a dozen flower-filled concrete planters to thieves in the night. I finally gave up and stopped replacing them—though I missed the color and beauty they added to the front of the store.

Seven years ago on the NARTS resale shop bus tour during the St. Louis seminar I found a solution to my problem! The bus rolled up to Women’s Closet Exchange and there on the building itself were beautifully painted topiaries! Betsy Johns, manager of my furniture store, quickly snapped pictures and took notes. When we got home, Betsy found an artist and now we have beautiful topiaries painted on my building right where the concrete planters used to be. They add beauty, can’t be stolen and don’t need weeding or watering! I am thrilled.

My bus tour "action list" could fill a newsletter but I will just share this one success for now. And speaking of action, make sure when you register for conference that you select one of the registration options marked "INCLUDES Bus Tour."

I promise you will be impressed by what you see, who you meet and what you learn while riding in that charter bus and visiting NARTS member stores in the Minneapolis area!

Women's Closet Exchange
Painted Brick Wall - Entire Side of Building

Finders Keepers Consignment Furnishings
Painted Brick Wall - Front Entrance

Close-up of left side of wall

Close-up of right side of wall