(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — For six years, they were business neighbors. Sherry Dellecurti’s shop, “Lake Life,” featured art and beach-themed products, a motif that tapped into the near lakefront and tourist-prone thoroughfare that is West Eighth Street. Claudine Thiem sold furniture and decor on consignment, a theme that tapped into dreams and ideals.

After nearly 12 years in the consignment business, Thiem — who had trained and practiced as a math teacher, but then made her hobby and passion her vocation — decided it was time for a change of pace. She called it a semi-retirement. She planned to close her popular store, “Claudine’s.”

Sherry Dellecurti, left, and Claudine Thiem.

Being neighbors, Thiem confided in Dellecurti about her plans to say goodbye; however, Dellecurti had an idea.

“This business had sort of a cult following. It was going to close and she let me know, so I decided to buy it,” Dellecurti said. “I didn’t think Erie could do without it.”

Tomorrow morning (Jan. 10), Presque Isle Consignment will open its doors for a soft opening at 10 a.m. The store will be open at 10 a.m. every day through Saturday. It will close at 4 p.m. each day with the exception of Thursday, Jan. 12, when it will close at 6 p.m. It’s in the same storefront that used to house Claudine’s.

“I’m excited for customers to come in and see the changes, and to see if they notice,” Dellecurti said.

As for changes, they’re subtle. The interior has new paint. The business has a new name. But it’s still very much the same store. In fact, Claudine Thiem will continue working at the store. She even has her own corner of the store that features her picks. The transition is specifically intended to keep the store as familiar as possible. After all, why fix what isn’t broken, Dellecurti suggested.

“I’ve been intrigued seeing her work here for the past six years,” she said. “She has set systems for me to follow, so I don’t need to reinvent the wheel — I can follow in her footsteps.”

There’s a developing trend in Erie, Dellecurti said, where people step in to keep a business from closing. She cited four or five businesses that have had similar handoffs in the past year. The reason, she said, is it’s hard to see a longtime business survive a crippling economic challenge like the COVID-19 pandemic only to then watch it close a year later. There’s risk involved in taking on a business, Thiem added, but taking a successful store over isn’t exactly risky.

“When an owner is closing a business because they want a different way of life, there’s not so much financial risk,” Thiem said.

And there’s another important trend that Dellecurti is tapping into: a trend toward consignment.

“Consignment is huge now — it’s been around, but it’s making a huge impact now,” Dellecurti said. “During the pandemic, it was hard to get furniture, so people turned to consignment stores. And young people are more conscious of their environmental impact so they’re trending toward consignment stores.”

Thiem says those trends have ebbed and flowed through the past 12 years. Recently the pandemic increased her customer base. Before that, it was the 2008 housing crash that saw people either selling furniture to get money or buying from consignment stores to save money.

“It trends in and out over the years,” she said.

Presque Isle Consignment plans to honor gift cards from Claudine’s and any “loyalty points” customers may have had.

“The continuity between the two of us is ensuring customers didn’t lose anything in the transition,” Thiem said.

“And it’s just good customer service,” Dellecurti added.

 Presque Isle Consignment is at 2208 W. Eighth St. in Erie.