Video by Kaard Bombe
It’s hard not to notice a recent modification to an old building at the intersection of Lincoln and Fourth streets. What was once a beer distribution warehouse has been turned into a modern and innovative business, aimed at providing customers with a new shopping experience.
Ultimate Consignment is the brainchild of Brian Lesk, an entrepreneur who says the idea has been in the making for 35 years.
The store acts as a neutral third party between the buyer and seller. The seller leaves the item at the store, where buyers are able to choose freely. Unlike Craigslist, the buyer and seller are never forced to come into contact with each other.
Shareholder and employee Ray Rodriguez said, “It’s Craigslist on steroids.”
Entering the store is an overwhelming experience. From kayaks to conveyor belts, the store covers all realms of products.
The warehouse is spread out among several rooms, each divvied up into specific sections including sports, appliances, hardware, music, furniture, clothing, collectibles, art and electronics.
The difference, Lesk said, between his store and the typical consignment store, is that the average store falls in the boundary of clothes and furniture. Ultimate Consignment, on the other hand, aims to provide everything.
Lesk says Ultimate Consignment’s primary goal is 100 percent customer satisfaction.
“We’re the opposite of the Internet business plan,” Lesk said.
He came up with the idea after a stressful and time-consuming experience shopping for cars. In a time when the Internet was merely an idea, Lesk, then a recent college grad, spent several frustrating days responding to car ads from an issue of Auto Trader magazine.
Lesk was motivated to ponder a business in which the customer seeking cars would have an easy and satisfactory experience.
The original plan, called AVA for “Auto Visual America,” was started, but Lesk became occupied with ventures in the stock market and real estate.
After selling one of his businesses, Lesk said he took two weeks off from work to decide what to do with the remaining 50 years of his life.
Lesk formulated a wish list of characteristics a perfect company would have. It would be simple, it would have technology, it would create a lot of jobs and it would be environmentally friendly.
It was during this break that he realized he’d created the greatest idea for a business.
But, rather than just cars, this business would have anything and everything.
“Why just cars, why not anything — why not refrigerators, why not fishing gear, why not tools, why not any used good?” Lesk said.
Furthermore, Ultimate Consignment would hit each of the points on Lesk’s list of the perfect business. It would create jobs, it would help to recycle goods and it would use technology.
It was Lesk’s business partner, Mark Thompson, who would come to the technological aid of the company.
Throughout the store, customers have access to several computers that allow the user to type in the code of any product found in the store, which then brings the product to full display as well as its price.
Employees pass by repeatedly, carrying tablets that allow them to contact the owner of the item via text message if the buyer feels the price is too high and wants to try to negotiate.
The business hopes to change the way commodities are found and bought.
Miles Martinez, a regular customer, said that he tries to go to the store at least twice a week. Martinez primarily shops for golf supplies and said he hasn’t made it past the first row.
It is easy to become so immersed in exploring the wide array of goods that customers don’t seem to notice the lack of air-conditioning in the warehouse.
An added bonus to Ultimate Consignment is the safety it provides to sellers. Buyers don’t have to travel all over town searching for the right object.
Lesk hopes to contribute to the revitalization of downtown Phoenix’s industrial district.
The location is just one of what Lesk hopes will become a movement across the western United States. There are already more Valley locations in the works.
“If you can’t find it here, then you don’t need it,” said Martinez, clutching his new golf bag as a smile spread across his face.
Ultimate Consignment is open to the public every day from 7 a.m to 7 p.m.