Karen Kunz worked in Information Technology for more than 20 years before she was laid off from her job in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But instead of applying for new jobs in the same field, she decided to try something entirely new.
The Forsyth County resident turned away from the corporate world, opening up her own business -- Bins Galore. She described the store on Veterans Memorial Boulevard as a “real-life treasure hunt for bargain shoppers” as she sells a variety of products — food, skin and hair care products, tools, games, clothes, technology and much more — all for only $5 each.
“I had visited a similar store in South Carolina when visiting friends that I really enjoyed where you could have the fun of not only looking for a bargain, but also possibly getting something really cheap that was potentially worth a lot of money,” Kunz said. “So I looked around, and I noticed that there weren’t very many in Georgia and none in this area.”
She opened the store in early December and created a Facebook page for the business where she posts photos of some of the products she thinks customers in the community would be most interested in. She quickly gained a following of local residents that started to come to the shop every weekend just to look around at all of the bargains.
These customers are almost never disappointed. The shop is open three days a week: Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and Kunz puts new stock into the store’s 24 different bins as often as she can.
She puts out new items every Saturday and Sunday, and anything a customer finds is $5. Then, on Monday, any items that are left in the bins are $3. When the shop is closed on Tuesday, she said they clear everything out and start with entirely new products the next Saturday.
“We have couples who that’s like their couple time,” Kunz said. “They come and shop or sometimes they bring their kids because you can literally come every day and potentially see something different.”
Many times, Kunz said not even she knows what exactly is in the bins. Unlike other bargain stores, such as Five Below or Family Dollar, products at Bins Galore are often returned or overstocked items from major retailers.
“A lot of stores these days that work with online retailers like Amazon -- when people return stuff -- they don’t know whether or not it’s broken or whether or not somebody just didn’t want it,” Kunz said. “A lot of times, people say something is broken because you get a free return …. Well, a company like Amazon doesn’t have the time to go through and check things when they come back, so they figure it’s better if they just sell [the returns]. All of their returns and excess stock, they sell it to liquidators.”
Kunz buys her stock from various liquidators by the truckload, and she never knows what she may get.
She unloads and stocks products that come in different boxes and bags, some detailing exactly what they contain while others remain a mystery.
“Whatever shows up, I put out in the bins,” Kenz said. “And oftentimes, I’m just as surprised as anybody else when someone walks up and says, ‘Look what I just got!’”
Kunz said much of the fun of coming and shopping in the store is the time spent hunting for and possibly finding something one never would have expected to find. Customers can sort through the bins and even ask a store employee open an unmarked box at the unboxing station to see what’s inside.
They ask that customers to not open boxes at the bins because small pieces may fall out and get lost or items may not get back into the box correctly. As employees open the boxes for customers each weekend, sometimes others will stop by the table, eyeing the box and throwing out guesses as to what it might be.
Kunz remembers a couple in the store one day asking her to open a small, brown box. She had no idea what it was, but when she opened it, it was a Samsung Galaxy S9 cell phone. Worth more than $300 at some retailers, the couple purchased the phone that day for $5.
They weren’t the only customers to hit the jackpot at Bins Galore. One customer came to her recently saying he had just purchased three small computer components, valued anywhere from $350-550, for $15. Other customers found wireless earbuds, computer keyboards, toys for kids, Keurig coffee makers, food, skin care products and more — all for, again, $5.
“Granted, there are some things that are just worth $5,” Kenz said. “Sometimes we tape things together. Like we often get food, so we’ll get boxes of cookies or something. A box of cookies isn’t worth $5, but two or three boxes taped together and sold as one is. It should be a deal. Everything should be a bargain.”
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Bins Galore, packed with mysterious and affordable finds, has been a huge change for Kunz after a career in IT, and she says she absolutely loves it. She used to work remotely from home, and now, instead of staring at a computer screen, she’s interacting with people in the community and working with kids as they start their first retail job.
“We just tell people to come in and have fun,” Kenz said. “I wanted a job where I had fun and the people I worked with had fun.”
For more information, follow Bins Galore on Facebook. The store is at 594 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Cumming, GA 30040. They are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Visit the store Saturday, Feb. 20 and Sunday, Feb. 21 for the store’s grand opening. There will be a free raffle, with winners chosen every hour both days. On Saturday, there will be a grand prize winner announced at 2:30 p.m.