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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Mannequin Rentals make healthy returns on investment

Judi Henderson-Townsend was looking for an outdoor dummy to put in her garden one day when she came across a company, Mannequin Madness, that was going out of business. The owner had planned to move and close his shop. He had an inventory of 50 mannequins to sell her for $2500. On a whim in 2001, Judi decided to buy the inventory and his mannequin rental and sales business.

Mannequin Madness is based in Oakland, California. Judi had graduated from the University of Southern California, then worked at a corporate sales and marketing job for fifteen years. After reading the book “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki, Judi longed to have her own business. She operated Mannequin Madness part time until she got laid off from her dot com job.

Retail mannequins run between $400-$1100, but Mannequin Madness sells their used ones (including the heads) for between $250-$500. Talk about a smoking deal. Or, if you want just a part of a mannequin, that’s an option too. Parts you can buy include:

  • Butts

  • Torsos

  • Single legs

  • Pair of legs

  • Headless Mannequins

Apparently, single legs are popular because people want to make lamps out of them. People have come up with lots of different uses for the mannequins, several of them x-rated, but we won’t go there.

Now, Mannequin Madness has an inventory of over 1500 mannequins, which she has cleverly obtained by successfully negotiating deals with major retailers to buy them for free or at low costs. Judi has been honored by the Environmental Protection Agency for recycling unwanted mannequins. Additionally, she has sales in the six figures, and has managed to grow her business through use of the internet and word of mouth. Eventually, Judi wants to open up stores in Atlanta and New York, and start a franchise.


Amber @ RuffleButts said...

This is such an interesting article, as I came across Mannequin Madness early in my business as I struggled to find an affordable infant mannequin. It seems she has done a fabulous job of taking a struggling business, thinking outside the box, and turning it into something much bigger.

I just came across your blog today and I love it!! Thanks for taking the time to share the inspirational entrepreneurial stories of others. Sometimes it takes that one story to spark a grand idea for someone else. Keep up the great work!!