The Duncan Banner

May 8, 2010

Gathering an eclectic collection for those who like to shop

Toni Hopper
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Debbie Sledge’s roots are definitely in Duncan, going back to the days of a great-grandfather, but a move to Texas was inspiration for a business she opened when she returned.

“There isn’t a consignment store here and I feel like I’m meeting a need for people in Duncan. It’s a neat venue for people who have nice things in their home but don’t want to mess with a garage sale. Plus it gives shoppers a place to come,” she said. 

Eclectic Echo on Main Street isn’t just another store of booths and household decor. There’s the usual collections of vases, candlestick holders, decorative bowls and more, yet it’s the one-of-a-kind items and rare pieces that set Sledge’s shop apart from other local businesses.

She’s had an old school desk from Michigan, rare clocks and odd sofas among her offerings; and even select pieces from local artists are available. Antiques share space with modern decor and furniture.

During the National Main Street Conference bus tour Tuesday, an art dealer, Kerry Easley, of Minden, La., stopped in to browse her store. As he looked around, artwork on the wall caught his attention. A pair of unusual ornate frames held his gaze, and peering at the price tag, he remarked, “You have those underpriced.”

Sledge smiled and agreed, but explained that she likes to keep things within the budget of most Duncan shoppers.

He talked with her about the frames and how to bring them back to life. Several other items held his interest and he remarked she had some great items.

Sledge said later that when she first opened, she worried about how to add inventory to her store, but a friend with a similar shop encouraged her to go ahead.

“She said, don’t worry, they’ll bring you things to fill your store,” Sledge said. That’s proven true and she keeps things moving by limiting items to a 90-day stay. She said it’s in her best interest to help sell the items that sit in her shop. Years ago Sledge had a booth in one of the local stores, but she said this has proven much more enjoyable.

“It’s funny. I’ll get people who will come in and tell me all about something they have. I want them to just bring the items,” she laughed.

And the shoppers keep it interesting, too.

“I took this couch once and a little voice in my head kept telling me not to do it, but I did. Then I talked to my friend who has a consignment shop and she said, ‘oh, no, I never take couches.’”

Sledge worried at that point that she had an odd couch in her shop that would never sell. Plus they take up valuable retail space. A few people looked at it, but eventually it was an area photographer who bought the couch to use for portrait sessions.

Since then, she’s been brave and taken other couches and odd furniture. For the most part, she’s had some luck selling them.

“Eclectic Echo has everything from an $800 modern couch to that $25 item that would make a nice gift,” she said.

Since she opened the store, Sledge has had both good and bad months. In fact, April was one of the worst months, but she said May has already been promising. She’s hoping that more people will come because she’s sure there is something for everyone.

“I have women and men come in to shop,” she said. Sledge also said Eclectic Echo is a great place to find that unique gift.

“I have handmade pottery from a local potter, Susan Elliott, and beautiful paintings from artist Barbara Nelson,” she said.

And, of course, there’s another odd couch holding space and hard to miss in its golden saffron yellow upholstery with pillows of various shades of red displayed on it.

“I’ve had a few people express interest in it. I like hearing the comments,” she said.

As for her family background, Sledge thinks her grandfather would be proud of her.

“He owned the old Otasco store (what people know today as the former Arlene’s store). In 2000, the Census had an office there and I worked there. I came out and was standing there by the building and looked over and saw my grandfather’s name carved into the brick,” she said.

Another surprising moment came when she bought her house and was looking at the abstract, only to discover on Page 2 that the property once belonged to her great grandparents.

“I’m a Duncan person and I love being here,” she said.

— Toni Hopper is a reporter for The Duncan Banner. She can be reached at 580-255-5354, Ext. 132 or by e-mail at: