“I loved the idea of having an upscale, urban-type store that offered name-brand products at discounted prices,” said Shane Oien, co-founder of liquidation outlet Crate.
After working in the liquidation industry for years, Shane thought it was time to create and open his own store. The concept of Crate came to fruition in 2016, but due to other business ventures, it was put on the back burner until 2021.
“The biggest component that sets Crate apart, is we want to have people feel that they are loved and provide goods for everyone in the family.” -Misty Oien
Shane understood that he couldn’t take on this endeavor alone, so what better than to recruit the ones he knows and loves—his family.
“In January of 2021, I had called my niece, Tareja Mitchem, and her husband, Nathan, knowing they had wanted to move to the Black Hills. I asked if they would be interested in starting this business venture with me,” said Shane. “It was a huge ‘yes.’”
Shane also recruited the help of his sister, Misty Oien. After securing his business partners, everything quickly fell into place and Crate opened at 544 Century Road in Rapid City in July 2021. Crate celebrated their grand re-opening in November of 2022 in their current location, 111 East North Street.
Friday – $9 per item
Saturday – $6 per item
Sunday – $3 per item
Monday – $1 per item
“What’s interesting are the similarities between what I had originally come up with and what the store manifested to be,” said Shane.
When he began to map out his thoughts and designs for the future store, Shane wanted a memorable, yet easy name to represent the design.
“I envisioned crates lining the walls as well as products being displayed on crates or pallets on the shopping floor,” he explained. “We carried that concept by building crates on wheels for customers to shop and displaying our specialty ‘pallet drop items’ on pallets.”
Under bright fluorescent lights, brown wooden crates line the floor filled to the brim with products from big box retailers.
“We mainly purchase liquidated products from Target, Amazon, HomeGoods, Walmart, and similar chain stores,” said Tareja.
Patrons can find everything from basic necessities to unique items. Tareja says they carry almost anything someone can think of, like electronics, toys, grocery items, apparel, shoes, furniture, and more.
The team says Crate focuses on providing top-notch service and a comfortable shopping experience. The family-owned business and its team ensure quality products and services.
“We’re all about providing a fun and unique shopping experience while getting items that you probably already had in your Amazon or Target cart at a much lower price,” said Misty.
The magic of the business happens behind the scenes, according to Nathan. They blind purchase semi-trucks worth of products and— depending on the load—each truck could carry between 10,000 to 30,000 items.
The staff carefully organizes and sorts the immense amount of products into 17 categories, making it easier for customers to rummage through.
“Every load is so different and it’s just as much of a surprise to us as it is to our customers on what we will have to offer that week,” said Nathan.
Upon entering, customers will feel like they’re walking into an upscale environment. Tareja explains that this all comes down to the vibe of the space from combining statement décor to the choice of music.
“We always want to provide an amusing shopping experience,” Tareja expressed. “When you’re at Crate, you’re family, and we strive to have every customer feel seen, valued, and appreciated.”
“We like to live vicariously through our customers and the excitement and smiles we see just fuels us to keep providing these incredible deals week after week.” -Tareja Mitchem
It’s important to the Crate family that anyone who enters their building finds what they need, especially families.
“While shopping in the crates is a treasure hunt, there are some crates that are categorized such as clothing, toys, and tools,” Misty added. “A whole family would come and shop with us being in the same vicinity, but shopping for things they need or pique their interest.”
As prices for essentials continue to rise, Crate works to combat the challenge by offering low daily prices on products. It’s their goal to reduce an inordinate amount of stress on those around them.
“For a lot of families, saving money helps to offset the stress of daily life,” explained Shane. “As well as treasure finds, we also provide everyday essential items such as grocery, health, or beauty products.”
After seeing the positive impact Crate was bringing to the Rapid City community, the Mitchem and Oien family decided it was time to spread the same benefit to Sioux Falls.
As the industrial city continues to grow with new stores and experiences, Shane says there are only a few stores in the area that offer discounted and liquidated products.
“At Crate Sioux Falls, our specialty is providing exceptional customer service and many different ways to shop liquidated products,” said Shane.
The Sioux Falls location opened in July 2022 under the help of Shane’s nephew, Marshall Bahm, and his wife Paula.
The Oien and Mitchem families express their hope of expansion within the following years. The South Dakota locations have been paired with two additional outlets in Oklahoma City, OK and Gillette, WY.
Nathan adds that they will continue to build a sturdy online presence, giving their customers access to shop from the comfort of their homes.
Crate has presented rewarding opportunities to the four family members, but as Tareja says, nothing is more rewarding than helping families in troubling times.
“We received a comment from a mom who was shopping for her family for Christmas and had told us that without Crate she wouldn’t have been able to get all of the toys and gifts on her list because of how high normal retail prices have been,” Tareja reflected.
Crate donates all non-purchased products from $1 a day to local charities, schools, and small businesses, or puts them in a box called Crate O’ Crap, for repurchasing the following week.
For more information, visit CRATEBLACKHILLS.COM and CRATEONLINE.SHOP