By Karel Bond Lucander | Photography by Meredith Jones
Posted: Tuesday, Jul. 31, 2012
Kate Spade, Louis Vuitton and Tory Burch all hang out here. If the devil wears Prada, youll find her here too, along with Lilly Pulitzer, Trina Turk, Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin.Poke around a Lake Norman consignment boutique and youll find designer apparel and accessories, some new with tags, mostly end up on the rack because women like to shop and they get bored with their purchases (think retail therapy or the Shopaholic novels). Some are moving and need to purge. And others shed 15 pounds on the grapefruit diet or added 2 inches to their hips. Regardless of the reasons women consign, theres a science to striking the right balance of in-demand brands at prices that can beat the best department and discount store sales these days. And thats where these consignment merchants shine. Theyre all women; they understand what a girl wants, and theyre here to help her get it at a fraction of the cost. As a shopper, Im looking for something thats unique or a designer that I love but cant afford. I want it, but my budget doesnt allow it. At a consignment shop, its the thrill of the hunt without the guilt of taking money away from my family. I can have my cake and eat it too, says Keena Darland, manager of the Give Back Boutique in Mooresville. High quality at an excellent price is worth a closer look. Its like getting a glass of Dom Perignon champagne for the price of a Bud Light beer. You can buy clothes, handbags and shoes you wouldnt dream of picking up at a department store.According to Lorraine Smith, owner of Brand Name Consignment in Cornelius, because of the great value, the shoppers demographic is also changing.The recession has helped our business. People who wouldnt normally consider it have started shopping consignment, Smith says.Here, Dooney & Bourke leather handbags that sell for $300 cost one-third of that. Manolo Blahnik mules that run $500 at Neiman Marcus go for $100, and Stuart Weitzman sandals are marked for $20 rather than $180.
Three-piece St. Johns suits might be priced at $400 rather than $2,400. Those Eileen Fisher black pants for $250 are $50, and that Ann Taylor blouse is $10 instead of $60. Most even have overstock items from high-end boutiques or those that couldnt survive the down-turned economy.As a shopper, youre getting desirable pieces for less than half of what they would have been. At some of these consignment shops, after 30 and then 60 days, the prices drop exponentially to make room for fresh inventoryas much as 300 new items daily. Others have weekly 10 percent off sales and offer volume discounts. At The Perfect Find in Mooresville, owner Nikki Goss says nothing is priced over $20. They pride themselves on personal assistance, and their one-on-one service strives to be more Nordstrom than Marshalls.Customer service is a lost art today, and youll find it more at the consignment store, says Julia Austin, owner of Fifis Fine Resale in Cornelius. We have wish lists customers make and they might ask us to call them if we get that black Prada handbag.Customers also like fashion guidance.Women often look for me to give an opinion. Im always honest. I want her to leave happy and return, says Ida Amaral, owner of New To You Consignment Boutique in Davidson. Another plus is theres something for everyone. At most stores, youll find some of the more popular brands: Coach, Banana Republic, J. Crew, Anthropologie brands, LOFT, Talbots and Chicos. Youll even spot coveted in-home sale and catalog names, like CAbi, Etcetera and Boden. If youre looking for denim, Miss Me, 7 For All Mankind, and Hudson brand jeans are calling to you at 50 percent or less than retail. For those who wish to consign, most offer a 60/40 split (you receive 40 percent) and a couple have a 50/50 split. Most say they accept clothing and accessories no more than two to three seasons old. It must be in very good condition, and they routinely reject items. Buying someone elses castoff can even be charitable. In the case of Give Back Boutique in Mooresville, the areas only non-profit consignment store, 100 percent of every dollar you spend is going to help the Mooresville/Lake Norman Christian Mission. And the other stores help with donations to such organizations as Lydias Loft and Christian Ministries of Lincoln County. If youve never been, you owe it to yourselfand your pocketbookto pop in. As the consigning door spins, its with a win-win kind of karma. If I dont lay off the Frappuccinos, in six months my consignment-bought Karen Kane skirt will find its way back here to make some skinnier girls day.Sisterhood Of The Store OwnersThey all have a passion for fashion, but their professional backgrounds dont point to careers in retail. Julia Austin, of Fifis, was in health care for 20 years before making the leap to resale. Lorraine Smith, of Brand Name Consignment, was in banking, and Danielle Cooney, of Deja Divas, was in real estate.Ive always bought consignment and people would ask me where I got my outfits, says Ida Amaral of New To You, who had worked in insurance. So when I moved to this area, I fulfilled a dream by opening this store. Though they run their own shops, they help one another. For example, Brand Name Consignment donated racks, mannequins and clothing to help Give Back Boutique get started. Theres enough room for all of the consignment shops around here. If we dont have something, well send customers to another shop, says Keena Darland, of Give Back Boutique. And they all acknowledge they wouldnt be here today if it werent for the women who shop and consign at their boutiques.We all want someone else to do well, adds Austin, whose shop has recently more than doubled in size. And we owe a lot to the women of Lake Norman.
A Sampling of Lake Normans Ladies Consignment Boutiques
CorneliusBrand Name Consignment
21304 Catawba Ave.
www.merchantcircle.com/Fifis Fine Resale Apparel
20601 Torrence Chapel Road
(Relocated near the Fresh Market)
www.fifislkn.comDavidsonNew To You Consignment Boutique
428 South Main St.
http://newtoyou.vpweb.comDenverDeja Divas Consignment Boutique
7915-B Natalie Commons Drive
www.dejadivas.comMooresvilleGive Back Boutique
478 D Williamson Road
(Entrance around back of building)The Perfect Find
1236 Mecklenburg Hwy.