We are excited to launch our regular series featuring profiles of local creative businesses. Our first feature covers Mannequin Madness and owner Judi Townsend. They have all of your mannequin, dress form and display needs covered, make sure to check them out online, as well as their retail location in Oakland.
Mannequin Madness is one stop shop for everything mannequin! We sell mannequins, dress forms, jewelry displays and head forms. We also rent these items for trade show and fashion events. Our Oakland warehouse is where sell used mannequins that we have recycled from department stores when they close or remodel locations. So this is where people can really get a high quality mannequin at a bargain price. We love that we are a green business, recycling mannequins to keep them out of landfills, and finding new homes for them. Our new mannequins are available online as they ship from warehouses on the east coast. They are also a winner of the 2017 Oakland Indie award in the category of Greenie for all the mannequins we keep out of landfills. We are helping to make the retail industry more sustainable by reducing waste.
Recently we converted a section of our warehouse into a budget friendly photo studio ($30 an hour) for vendors who need a professional background to take photos of their products for their online store. The photo studio rental includes the use of our mannequins. Our Oakland warehouse is open Tuesday and Thursday from 10:30-3:30 and Sunday from 10:30-2pm
What do you like most about running your business?
I love that I get to meet so many creative people who have all kinds of creative ways of using mannequins. I have over 30 boards on Pinterest on different ways people use mannequins in retail displays, in floral design, for Halloween, for special events – it is amazing how many different ways people use mannequins. While a lot of my customers are fashion retailers and photographers, I also have a lot of artists and makers as customers and they do all kinds of DIY projects using mannequins and mannequin parts.
What is the most challenging aspect of your business?
Managing the used inventory in our Oakland warehouse. Our inventory changes all the time depending upon which retail store is remodeling or closing and wants us to recycle their unwanted mannequins. So if I have a favorite item or best seller, it is not as if I can re-order or make that product. Once it is gone, it’s gone. For example right now we have a truckload of mannequins that arrived from American Apparel but in three months this inventory will be sold out and we get inventory from another retailer. Sometimes we get truckloads of inventory at one time and we are scrambling to make room in our warehouse. And mannequins are big so we need lots of room – a challenge in the Bay Area where real estate is expensive.
What is your favorite restaurant, and what do you usually order?
Enassro an Ethiopian Restaurant on Grand Ave by Lake Merritt. I LOVE their veggie combo plate
What do you like to do for fun?
I love to go to Burke Williams Spa in SF or Indian Springs Spa in Napa when I have the time for pampering and relaxing. Fun for me is doing nothing because I have very little down time. I also try to get in some salsa dancing.
Here is your chance to shout out to other local businesses – what are some of your favorites?
Sports Basement and Oaklandish (I am wearing their t-shirt in the photo) are two of my favorite retailers. I like them because they have been customers of mine from the very waay back when I was selling mannequins from my backyard because I didn’t have a warehouse.
But I am very partial to businesses who understand the value of good visual merchandising in the window and inside the store. Many of the new retailers who have revitalizing the shopping choices in Oakland are like this: Kosa Arts (love their purses made from recycled fire house) in downtown, and Oak Common by the Lake Merritt.