Building a successful business from the bottom up can be hard, yet Massachusetts native Alison Wainwright, 37, beat the odds 10 years ago when she found a niche in the Las Vegas market. She has since turned it into a successful business that is competitive locally and throughout the country.
The business plan is simple: Rent out mannequins. Wainwright started Las Vegas Mannequins with the idea of renting mannequins for conventions and retail trade shows in town.
The idea worked so well that Las Vegas Mannequins has grown from renting mannequins to selling them. Additionally, it’s grown to provide full service help for companies that participate in trade shows and will do everything from designing and fabricating kiosks for vendors to setting up displays and even steaming, folding and placing clothes on racks.
“When she first started a few years ago, she would call us in the middle of the night and say that she was delivering some mannequins,” said Alison’s mother, Mary Wainwright, who also works at Las Vegas Mannequins. “We would be worried and wonder about what she was doing, but clearly she knew what she was doing, and we are very proud of what she has accomplished.”
“When I started this business, I didn’t make money for, like, three or four years,” Alison Wainwright said. “But I knew eventually it would pay off, and it has.”
When she started the business, Wainwright said she had to rent mannequins at the cost she paid to purchase them. Thus, she wouldn’t make up the cost for that mannequin until the second time she was able to rent it out. Now, however, she has more than made up for the cost of each mannequin, as her business has grown so much that she has 2,000 to 3,000 mannequins available for rent and more than 50 models of mannequins available for sale at the store’s showroom.
Full body mannequin rentals range from $145 to $200. The store also sells mannequins and accessories such as stands and wigs.
Wainwright also started importing mannequins from a manufacturing company overseas 2 ½ years ago. Since then, she has received five or six shipments, each containing 420 to 450 mannequins that have sold quickly.
“It’s really exciting to realize how much we have grown throughout the years,” Wainwright said. “I think it is really cool I found a niche, and I am able to provide a service and things that fulfill a need here in town.”
Another thing that has aided with the success of Las Vegas Mannequins is the fact that it has very little competition. According to Wainwright, from the time she started her store, there were two other major mannequin stores in town, but they went out of business.
“I kind of got rid of my competition because of how much service I provide and that I don’t just rent the mannequins but have additional services added to that,” Wainwright said. “I am really all about customer service and satisfaction. When you make sure everyone is happy, that’s when you make sure they come back. I have had some of my customers for over eight years, and they still come back.”
In fact, business was so solid that it was not affected when the economic recession hit, something Wainwright also credits to her good customer relations policy as she makes it a point to call customers personally to inquire about their experience.
Because of this, she has become well-known in the retail business — Macy’s and Wrangler Jeans are some of her clients — and due to her work in the trade show business with vendors in Utah, Kentucky, Colorado and California.
“It is almost weird to think that when I started it was just me and my boyfriend at the time and his mom who would help me from time to time,” Wainwright said. “Now I have nine people working here full time, and we hire about 12 more part time for trade shows. It feels good to know that we have grown so much, and we keep doing so.”
“We are proud of how she started and that she had the idea of the business because she had the incentive to follow through and make it happen,” Mary Wainwright said. “We are all proud of Alison and look forward to Las Vegas Mannequins continuing to grow.”
Las Vegas Mannequins is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. For more information, call 702-987-5830 or visit lvmannequins.com.