For Lisa Oehler, the dream of opening her own consignment shop was born out of pain.
When her abusive ex-husband of 18 years was finally arrested, Ms. Oehler was left with no money, three children and nearly two decades worth of trauma. She remembers selling the hand-finished furniture in her home piece by piece just to buy gas.
“The furniture was really selling, so I thought that maybe I could do that,” she said. “That’s how I ended up creating for other people.”
Jump ahead 10 years and Ms. Oehler’s life is drastically different. She is in a healthy and supportive marriage with her husband, Dennis, and is standing on the precipice of her store’s grand opening. She expects the Hampton’s Consignment Shoppe, located on Montauk Highway in Eastport, to open next weekend.
Once it does, she will re-sell clothing, furniture she has painted and fixed, and signs she will design bearing customizable messages. Though she signed the lease on the space only a few weeks ago, she has worked long hours to get it ready for business.
“Even the guy next door, the hairdresser, is like, ‘Who’s helping you?’ and I’m like ‘Me!’” the Remsenburg resident said in an interview on Friday. She added that she was both saving money and staying true to her vision by completing all of the painting and refurbishing herself.
Ms. Oehler has been storing bags of traded-in clothing at her house and transporting them to the shop one load at a time. Even before the store officially opens, her set-up is drawing business.
“She has people coming over from the hairdresser’s next door while their hair is being dyed,” Mr. Oehler said, referring to the customers of the Gianfranco Hair Studio. “They’re coming to shop with towels around their heads!”
The early interest in her business is due, in part, to Ms. Oehler’s reputation. Since marrying Mr. Oehler and moving to Long Island from Connecticut, she has been selling her refurbished furniture and signs on the side as she also runs a personal training business, Down the Road Fitness.
“I first met Lisa three and a half years ago when she refinished two gorgeous pieces for me,” said Ms. Oehler’s friend, Ali Jackson, who lives in Bayport. “She’s incredibly hard-working. I anticipate her business being a success.”
Ms. Oehler will continue to run Down the Road Fitness alongside the new consignment store.
Despite these myriad triumphs, Ms. Oehler hasn’t forgotten the abuse she suffered and plans to give back to other women entrapped by domestic violence. She will paint signs with the word “Hope,” the ‘o’ substituted with the domestic violence awareness ribbon, and will donate half of the proceeds from these signs to a local shelter, possibly The Retreat in East Hampton.
“I want to help other people,” she said. “Ten years ago, I didn’t have anyone to go to and I didn’t know that there were resources out there.”
Now, Ms. Oehler has her sights firmly set on the future.
“I want to set up a chain of these,” she said. “I’m so confident. I don’t sleep—I wake up at 2 a.m. figuring out how I’m going to do the curtains for the fitting room … my wheels are always spinning.”