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by Jane Parikh
MLive.com

Portage, MI — Ruth Bradley likens her endless search for merchandise to a treasure hunt.

“I love doing the buying and finding the new products and being able to offer that merchandise to my customers,” said the 43-year-old owner of the Eclectic Corner, located inside The Crossroads mall in Portage.

“It’s never the same thing twice,” Bradley said. “The merchandise mix is constantly changing and I’m always actively seeking what’s coming next.”

Bradley opened the Eclectic Corner on Nov. 13 after years spent mulling the idea of owning her own retail business. She said she was unphased by the sour economic climate over the last few years, which has caused a lot of retailers to close their doors.

In some ways Bradley said she thinks the economy is encouraging women such as herself to take a chance and open their own businesses.

“Women are taking the plunge and trying new things because they’ve been displaced from a job or have had their hours cut,” Bradley said. “For most of them, even with home-based businesses selling Mary Kay cosmetics or Silpada jewelry, this gives them a chance to work in an area they love.”

The litmus test for Bradley, a Three Rivers resident, came after she left a 14-year career as a special education teacher. Her segue into ownership of the 7,000-square-foot store began during the 2008 Christmas season when she operated a kiosk-cart at The Crossroads that sold specialty blankets and sheets.

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