Street Smart Chicago

411: The Day of the Liquidator

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Seth Marks has been a liquidator for seventeen years, which is only a small fraction of the nine decades his family has been in the closeout business. “Unfortunately, they don’t teach it in school,” Marks says, “so you have to learn it in the street.” The street, in Marks’ case, meant his grandfather and father. Working on Maxwell Street, Marks’ grandfather started as a jobber in the 1920s and 1930s, selling wholesale items. Marks’ father later joined the closeout trade, and now Marks carries on as the third-generation in the business. With even family Thanksgiving dinners consisting of conversations valuing the cutlery and trays on the table, Marks knew he “wanted to do this from the beginning,” working in flea markets and swap meets as a high school and college student. “I hustled it,” he says. Later, his wholesale liquidation background merged with the retail world when he started a job with Big Lots. He eventually came to own his own equity fund, Talon Merchant Capital. And now, Marks is launching Talon Deals, a liquidator retailer, with its first store opening last weekend. With discounted merchandise eighty- to ninety-percent off of regular retail, “It’s like a going-out-of-business sale every day,” says Marks, who sees the bad economy as a good time to launch his new store. “I feel bad for Michigan Avenue,” he says. The 30,000-square-foot store offers everything from 7 For All Mankind jeans to 73-inch 3-D televisions. “It’s truly a treasure-hunt environment,” Marks says. (Sylvia Kim)

Talon Deals, 2929 North California.

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