By Jennifer Ladwig Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Moscow, Idaho
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Entrepreneur Melanie Hodges was inspired to open her consignment shop after she experienced the "consignment shop experience" first-hand. It all began a few years ago when she was going through a tough time and she desperately needed to sell some personal items to keep her family afloat.
Life hasn't always been easy for Melanie Hodges, but she doesn't let that stop her.
Hodges is the owner and manager of Lily Bee's, a high-end consignment shop in downtown Pullman. The shop, she said, represents her life in many different ways.
"Really, I've been an entrepreneur since I was about 4 years old," she said. "I've always had little businesses. I had a little pop-up candy store one time when I was little, and my sister and my cousin ate all my candy, so that put me out of business."
Another time, she said, she had a collection of praying mantis eggs that she was going to sell to some farmers, but they hatched and got out of their coffee can cage, thus putting her out of business again.
Hodges said she's always had expensive taste, and her experience with antique and high-end consignment helps her select the items she has available in her store. She said her exposure to beautiful antiques through an uncle and to fancy goods through trips around the world helped hone her taste and influences her shop.
The shop is a way for Hodges to help others, she said, as consignment shops once helped her.
As a young woman, Hodges was widowed and left to care for three young children on her own. She said she had no life insurance after her husband died, but she had beautiful things.
"I would take those beautiful things into the consignment shop and, low and behold, I would have enough money to make it through the month," she said. "So I always made a promise that, if I could make it through that really rough time of my life with three small children, no money, (wondering) what am I going to do, that I would do that for others."
And she has. Hodges said she has had women come in with clothing and walk out of the store with $300 or $400 checks.
"I had a woman come in crying one day at Christmas time because she had money coming," Hodges said, adding that she is happy that she is able to help people who might find themselves in a similar situation she was in years ago, strapped for cash and having a miracle happen so she could get through to the next day.
Faith has also played a huge part in Hodges' life.
"I pray every day, 'God, please help me,' " she said, "because it's so hard here."
The difficulty, she said, is that Pullman often clears out during the busy times in the shopping industry: Christmas-time, spring break and summer. However, she said she has faith that God will provide, and that faith has kept her going even through the hardest times.
"I just couldn't do it without God," she said. "I lost seven family members while I was opening this store. My little sister was one of those people. There was a flood in the store that wiped out the store for almost three months, so again, I just watched everything go to hell in a handbasket. And then God will just do something amazing."
Hodges recalled one miracle she experienced, when it seemed God answered her prayer in the quickest and simplest way possible.
"A big thing for (the store) is ugly Christmas sweaters. One year, we were out of ugly Christmas sweaters, so one night before I fell asleep I, jokingly, said 'God, if you have any ugly Christmas sweaters, send them my way,' " she said. "So the next morning, I come to work, and I open the door, and this lady said, 'Oh, honey, I've got Christmas sweaters,' and I'm thinking 'wow, God, that's really fast.' "
A woman who had worked at a nursing home for years and years was donating her Christmas sweater collection. The woman said she wore a different sweater every day in December. She donated eight crates full of sweaters. "They all sold within three days," Hodges said. "She filled out her paperwork, and guess what her first name was -- Faith."
Hodges said it is these little miracles that show her there is a God. She said she does not have a church and she does not identify with an organized religion.
"I don't go to a church," she said. "I just every day ask God to please see me through, and help me to be kind." She said God has seen her through thick and thin her whole life, she said.
"I'm not somebody who has to have a label in religion," she said. "I just couldn't do it without God."