BLOOMINGTON — Working as a small-business consultant in 2016, Carol Wilson didn't imagine that she would find herself on the other side of the equation.
"Running a business was the furthest thing from my mind, and at my age I thought I would never have done it," said Wilson, who owns 2 FruGALS Thrift in downtown Bloomington. "But it literally fell in my lap."
Now, as a small-business owner of five years, she hasn't looked back.
Wilson's retail venture, located at 417 N. Main St., celebrated its half-decade anniversary this month, marking a milestone that many small businesses never reach.
The business started in 2016, when Wilson was working as a consultant for a trio of local business owners. At the time, she opened the thrift store on the corner of Oakland Avenue and Hannah Street, operating there for 15 months.
"We were in a small spot that just didn't have a lot of potential for growth," Wilson said, explaining how a friend recommended a space on Main Street, in downtown Bloomington.
"The move was to continue the growth process," Wilson said. "It's absolutely amazing being in downtown — the atmosphere, the camaraderie of other business owners, the push to promote the area."
The store's name stems from Wilson's daughter, who came up with the title to represent Wilson and her former business partner. Wilson has been the sole owner of the store for the last 3½ years.
The thrift and consignment store features a diverse range of new and used goods, from clothing and jewelry to toys, pet supplies and furniture. Items come-in from donations and from about 15 different consigners.
Wilson doesn't employ a paid staff. Instead, anyone who consigns product agrees to staff the store. That arrangement, Wilson said, has been in place all five years and works well.
"If you're downtown and need a shovel or paint or some screws, we're the only place that has that," Wilson said. "We've adjusted to that, and we've loved it."
The store also fulfills the need for more women-owned businesses, with Wilson pushing for consignments from female entrepreneurs and spotlighting on social media other businesses operated by women.
"My full focus before the store and for the last five years has been supporting and encouraging other women in small business," Wilson said. "Anything I can do to help and support women in small business."
After five years of operating under that model, Wilson said the most important lesson she's learned is that "this business is always changing."
"Most small businesses don't make it this far," Wilson said. "But if you keep plugging away, seek other peoples' advice, have a business plan in place and (practice) lots of prayer, it will work out."
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Angela Garwood of Minier searches through a rack of children's clothes at 2FruGALS Thrift, 417 N. Main St, Bloomington, on Monday. The store includes items displayed by a variety of vendors and has been in business for five years.