The Path Forward

Why Finders Keepers’ Lee Ann Harris believes in following your heart

By Michael J. Pallerino

Lee Ann Harris remembers being out of her comfort zone. After 17 years of working at BNY Mellon, she lost her job in a corporate downsizing decision. Not really knowing what her next move would be, it wasn’t until a conversation with the then owner of Finders Keepers Consignments that the path forward became clear.

Bonnie Kallenberg was looking to retire. But instead of just selling the three stores she had methodically grown into some of the most desirable shopping haunts in the Decatur and Avondale Estates area, the longtime owner wanted to pass the passion on to someone who could match her vision of the brand. More than just keeping the Finders Keepers brand financially sound, Bonnie wanted to extend its legacy.

“I had been a customer for a long time, but I had never operated a retail store,” Lee Ann recalls. “Bonnie wanted to hand pick who was going to take over the stores. It was a huge decision—a huge leap of faith for me.”

While the difference between corporate finance and consignment retail could not be any wider, Lee Ann wasn’t going to have to make the leap alone. The duo worked out a deal where Lee Ann would spend a year and a half working in the stores before the purchase, giving her an opportunity to learn all aspects of the business. Even after the store officially would change hands, Bonnie offered to lend advice and support any way she could.

To say that 2020 had other plans might be the mother of all understatements. If the transition into entrepreneurship wasn’t enough, Lee Ann also was in the midst of a divorce. As she slowly began to process and fend off every obstacle in her path, COVID struck. With a new venture, a new personal life and no playbook on how to deal with an unprecedented global pandemic, Lee Ann was forced to figure it out—and fast.

One of the first things she did in the midst of the closures that hit every business in every industry was to ramp up Finders Keepers’ online sales. There were other changes. When she originally purchased Finders Keepers Inc., the 40-plus year old brand had three locations. One of those locations—the Fashions Store at 84 N. Avondale Road—was owned by the Development Authority of Avondale Estates. As part of the Town Green Project, the property was sold. The move enabled Lee Ann to entertain the possibility of renovating its Boutique & Menswear location.

She hired Trinity Design in Decatur to help her with the undertaking. Her vision was to open the entire space up and make it an all-women’s consignment store that could carry a wider range of brands it currently accepted at this location. “At the heart of this, I wanted an elevated experience for consignment shopping for women. We were closed for a full week as a wall was knocked down, painted everything, had new light fixtures installed and created beautiful dressing rooms and a sitting area. The decision was the best thing I’ve done, made even better in that it has been successful beyond what I thought was possible. Our community of consignors and customers is incredible.”

At the center of the redesign, Lee Ann rebranded the retailer’s logo to a butterfly, which not only symbolizes the transformation of Finders Keepers, but her as well.

If you fast-forward the story, as Lee Ann modestly likes to do, you may miss some of the extraordinary things she did to reimagine, refocus and revitalize a brand that already had such a loyal, eclectic following. Today, the Finders Keepers Consignments name lives on with two physical locations—Finders Keepers Women’s Consignment (2134 N. Decatur Road) and Finders Keepers Furnishings (2853 East College Avenue)—and its online presence at

If you are in the market, the brand accepts gently used pre-loved on trend items for consignment (its consignment guidelines for both locations are on its website). “Consigning with us helps make money for our consignors that is put right back in the community. Our shoppers enjoy quality and value knowing they are helping their wallet and their planet through consignment shopping. It is a win/win for everyone.”

As for Lee Ann, she is happily remarried and is fully invested in the entrepreneurial mindset. “Owning a business is not for the faint of heart. It is hard work. I could write a book about all the challenges and victories I have encountered thus far. Your business is like a child, you do anything to protect it. And, it is a 24/7 gig.”

On those days when the road hits a bump or two, her solace is in the community. “I could be having a bad day dealing with problems and issues with running a business, but as soon as I encounter a shopper who says how much they love our stores and it is their happy place, it always lifts me up. Knowing that we bring happiness to people, whether it is an item in their home or that perfect outfit for a special occasion, gives me great pride in what we offer our community.”

Lee Ann takes our Decatur Living Speed Round…

Biggest Influence

My faith

Three traits every leader should have

Courage, Integrity, Humility 

What book are you reading now?

“You Could Make This Place Beautiful” by Maggie Smith

What are you binge watching?

“Gilmore Girls” is my favorite show to binge watch.

The artist you cannot take off your playlist?

The National

Biggest bucket list item

I have always wanted to go to Paris.

Favorite Decatur spot

There are several, The Reading Room & Parker’s on Ponce.

What every first timer to Decatur should visit first?

Walk the city and wander in all the fabulous shops and restaurants, and my stores, of course.

Best thing a customer ever said to you

I hear it all the time that the stores are a happy place for our customers. They love the look and feel of both our stores. It brings me great pride and makes it all worth it.

Favorite quote

“I am not a product of my circumstances; I am a product of my decisions.” — Stephen R. Covey

Recent Posts