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News / Business / Clark County Business

Working in Clark County: Joni Vilhauer, resale boutique owner

By Kay Richardson, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 21, 2016, 5:53am
3 Photos
Joni Vilhauer opened Modao Resale in 2012 after a career in fashion and interior design.
Joni Vilhauer opened Modao Resale in 2012 after a career in fashion and interior design. Photo Gallery

Clark County native Joni Vilhauer had 11 years of experience in women’s fashion and a 30-year dream of operating her own resale boutique. With encouragement from mentors and acquaintances in the business, she opened Modao Resale in Hazel Dell in 2012, offering like-new and on-trend fashions and accessories. After the closing of Nordstrom at the Vancouver mall, Vilhauer felt even more strongly that Vancouver needed a resale store like Modao offering affordable upscale women’s clothing. “It’s been phenomenal the way it’s worked out so successfully,” she says, “because the community wants it.”

Name: Joni Vilhauer.

Residence city/neighborhood: Felida.

Business name: Modao Resale, 512-D N.E. 81st St., Vancouver. 360-546-1163. www.modaoresale.com and on Instagram and Facebook.

Age: 60.

Educational/professional background: I am trained through college as an executive secretary, but found out very early on that I was bored with it. I worked for Nordstrom for 11 years beginning in 1978, and then began my own interior design business, which I still occasionally work for a previous client. Fashion and design are in my blood!

How — and when — you got started in your business: I had always wanted to have a boutique for women in our area. My daughter, Bailey, came home from college and got married, and decided to settle in the Portland area. I asked her if she would like to partner with me in this vision I had always had and she said “yes!” She has the amazing gifts of handling all the administrative duties and all the social media and our online store. I have the opposite gifting, which is the merchandising, styling, and loving people, so it works perfectly.

Personal/business philosophy: To have integrity in all things. Treating all people with respect and dignity. I learned long ago at Nordstrom never to judge a book by its cover.

Most rewarding part of job: Helping a woman find what best suits her. Listening and then working to outfit her for whatever it is she might be looking for. I would say that I genuinely care about each person who walks in our door, that she is satisfied with her purchases when she walks out the door.

Most challenging part of job: We take the responsibility since we don’t consign but buy instead. We are taking the risk that what we buy from our suppliers (people who bring things in) will sell. Resale is much more efficient. It helps to know that even the big guys don’t have that figured out.

One thing you’d like people to know about your work: There are so many women who come in who have no idea what to wear or what to buy. This world makes it so difficult for women to like their own bodies, so they don’t even want to go shopping; it’s overwhelming. When they walk in to Modao, our staff welcomes them as if they were walking into our home. We want to help them look their best no matter what body type they have.

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Best feature of your Clark County community: The small-town feel still exists for me, having been born here and lived here all my life.

Favorite restaurant/pub/coffee shop/store: The Thai Orchid restaurant downtown, Thatchers for coffee, and Modao, of course, for the shop!

Your favorite travel destination: Salzburg, Austria. I thought the countryside and small-town feeling, the history, the people and the food were wonderful. Of course my husband loved the beer houses.

Hobbies: My grandkids! Before them, I would have said playing classical piano and enjoying music.

Most enjoyable book/play/movie/arts event in past 12 months: Francine Rivers — I have read every book she has written. “Girls” by Sophia Amoruso and “One Cup at a Time” by Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks.

Something you’d like to do this year/within five years: Travel to England for a few weeks with my kids, and do a car tour of the New England states in the fall.

Words to describe yourself: A visionary, dreamer and optimist! My kids and friends always tease me about always seeing the glass half-full. I don’t think that is so bad.

Person you’d most like to meet: That is an easy one — Rev. Billy Graham. I would love to sit by a fire in his study for the entire day and ask him a lot of questions and be touched by his incredible spirit.

Columbian staff writer