Consignment store owner advises follow your dreams no matter what age

Tucked away in the Sundries Court building on Spring Street, a small resale and consignment store hosts a trove of eclectic treasures and vintage finds. Lisa Duke opened her store, heyday, last July and has since expanded her business into another room across the hall from her original storefront. In her own words, the store has “anything you can imagine,” and with that, hopes visitors might find something that speaks to them.

Originally hailing from the Chicago area, Duke moved to the Pacific Northwest for her husband’s work, and resided in Eugene, Oregon for 30 years before moving to the island. Shortly after having moved to Eugene, Duke and her husband went on a boating trip in the Puget Sound, where they spent a week on San Juan Island. When it came time for Duke’s husband to retire, they chose the island as their next destination.

“[My husband] said to me, ‘I’m up for one more adventure, what would that be?’ And we both agreed it needed to be [near] water because we grew up around lakes in the Midwest,” said Duke. “[We considered] the Oregon coast and Bend Oregon, because of the Deschutes River. But then we said, ‘wait a minute, what about the San Juan Islands?’, because we had loved it so much.”

However, opening a business was never part of Duke’s plan. Working as nurse before becoming a full-time mother of four, she had no formal retail experience, but she had worked as a volunteer coordinator for her children’s middle school for many years, arranging display cases and bulletin boards, gaining experience in curating displays. She also began volunteering at Treasure Hounds after moving to the island, learning more about retail and getting to know the community.

It wasn’t until Duke met a former business owner who wanted to close their shop that Duke got their own start at owning a business. She purchased the former business owner’s collection – “a grandma’s attic” of treasures, according to Duke – and set up shop in Sundries Court. Duke’s daughter came up with the name for the store, and Duke liked the idea of excitement and vigor that came along with ‘heyday.’

For Duke, heyday is more than just a business; she wants people to think of it as a meeting place, somewhere you can break the repetition of island life, especially the doldrums of winter.

“I think there’s a lot of people on the island, especially in the winter months, that get lonely. And I know they’ve come in here and said, ‘Oh, I just had to get out of the house,’ and so we chat,” said Duke. “I don’t want anyone to feel they have to come in here and buy something. I hope that my store is just a fun meeting place for people to have conversation.”

In addition, Duke enjoys the aspect of consignment and learning about the different items that people bring into the store. Although the community is very generous in donating to places like the Thrift House and Community Treasures, Duke understands that some people have a difficult time donating something precious to them, seeking consignment as an alternative. Duke feels as though it’s “Christmas everyday,” not knowing what surprises each day holds as islanders bring in their unique items. Additionally, Duke has sought to feature different local artists on the island and in the Pacific Northwest by selling some of their works in her store, including hand-painted cards, candles made in vintage vessels, and artworks made of driftwood and seaglass found on the island.

With there being a number of different consignment and thrift stores open on the island, Duke described a sense of camaraderie amongst the store owners and explained how she tries to promote the other business on island when customers are looking for something in particular. When reflecting on her upcoming interview for the Journal’s Women in Business segment, Duke remarked on the presence of female business owners on the island.

“There are quite a few businesses [run by] women in Friday Harbor! So, you know, kudos to all of us,” said Duke. “There is a lot of camaraderie. I know there’s been a lot of changes in the downtown area but I’m actually very excited because I think there’s a lot of new, good energy – a lot of neat things happening.”

When asked to give advice to women who are interested in running their own business, Duke encourages them to follow their dreams.

“No matter what age or where you are in your life, follow your dream. Don’t ever say ‘I can’t do it,’ [because] you don’t have the knowledge or are too old.” said Duke. “I think the biggest thing I learned from doing this is I will never look at a small business the same way I did before. It takes a lot to open the doors. There’s a lot of hoops to go through, but that isn’t to deter somebody, because if a lot of us can do it like myself, you can do it too.”