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Unclaimed Freight has a new manager

WORTHINGTON -- Steve Collins has years of experience in retail.

So when there was an open manager position at Unclaimed Freight Furniture in Worthington -- a store he had been working at for months -- he was a natural selection.

"My former boss got an offer he couldn't refuse to go back to radio in Austin," Collins said. "They offered me the manager job here. I've lived in Worthington nine years now. I know the town and they wanted to keep a guy who has been here locally and the people in town know me. That's why they offered me the manager job, and I took it."

Collins began at the store in late December.

"I've been here since the week before Christmas," he said. "I was a full-time sales associate, but basically I was learning how to sell furniture. I have a background in shoes, so I know how to do retail."

When he was brought in, the goal was for him to eventually run a store in some other location.

"Steve Mejia, who was the former manager, was told to at least look at me to bring in as a full-time guy," Collins said. "I thought it sounded like something interesting, I've done retail before, and I know how to do retail. But at the same time, he brought me in to train me as a manager. He didn't want me here longer than a year and a half or two years at the very longest, then he wanted me to move because he wasn't going to move at the time."

Collins officially became the new store manager on July 16.

"It's been going good," Collins said. "I've been busy. Even on the slowest days, I try to find something to do. If I get bored, I move stuff around. Two weeks ago, we re-arranged the entire store."

He has been making small improvements to the store, including clearance items.

"Last week I had four clearance items, and they are all gone now. So guess what's that's going to bring in? More new furniture to show," he said.

"I'm excited to be the manager here. I didn't think I'd ever become a manager again. I didn't think I wanted to do it again. But at the same time, in this company, I've talked to my boss about every three days since I became manager.

"It's a company that will help you out."

Collins had sales and managing experience in shoes and radio prior to furniture.

"It helps me to know how to re-arrange a store, and then you have retail math on top of it. In the furniture business, compared to when I was in the shoe business, there is always a sale going on," Collins said. "I know how to market the store. I'm in charge of radio advertising, so I know how to do that. I do have radio experience, too, which helps me engage with customers."

The store, which has an Oxford Street address and is located on the "Big Corner" in Worthington, is full of new sofas, dining sets, reclining chairs and bedroom furniture.

"It's nothing but brand new furniture," Collins said. "We can't stock anything here because I don't have room. All our stuff gets shipped out of Sioux Falls. It's all brand new furniture. We don't carry anything used, and I don't take any trade ins or anything like that."

Even with the new position and responsibility, Collins is still enjoying what he does.

"Sales is fun," he said. "If anyone comes in and wants a joke or whatever, I'll joke with you. But at the same time, you have to be serious, too. But I have fun doing it. You interact with people all the time."

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Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.