Kate Spade, Louis Vuitton and Tory Burch all hang out here. If the devil wears Prada, you’ll find her here too, along with Lilly Pulitzer, Trina Turk, Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin.
Poke around a Lake Norman consignment boutique and you’ll 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, there’s 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 that’s where these consignment merchants shine. They’re all women; they understand what a girl wants, and they’re here to help her get it at a fraction of the cost.
“As a shopper, I’m looking for something that’s unique or a designer that I love but can’t afford. I want it, but my budget doesn’t allow it. At a consignment shop, it’s 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. It’s like getting a glass of Dom Perignon champagne for the price of a Bud Light beer. You can buy clothes, handbags and shoes you wouldn’t 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 shopper’s demographic is also changing.
“The recession has helped our business. People who wouldn’t 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. John’s 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 couldn’t survive the down-turned economy.
As a shopper, you’re 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 inventory—as 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 you’ll find it more at the consignment store,” says Julia Austin, owner of Fifi’s 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. I’m 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 there’s something for everyone. At most stores, you’ll find some of the more popular brands: Coach, Banana Republic, J. Crew, Anthropologie brands, LOFT, Talbots and Chico’s. You’ll even spot coveted in-home sale and catalog names, like CAbi, Etcetera and Boden. If you’re 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 else’s castoff can even be charitable. In the case of Give Back Boutique in Mooresville, the area’s 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 Lydia’s Loft and Christian Ministries of Lincoln County.
If you’ve never been, you owe it to yourself—and your pocketbook—to pop in. As the consigning door spins, it’s with a win-win kind of karma. If I don’t lay off the Frappuccinos, in six months my consignment-bought Karen Kane skirt will find its way back here to make some skinnier girl’s day.
Sisterhood Of The Store Owners
They all have a passion for fashion, but their professional backgrounds don’t point to careers in retail. Julia Austin, of Fifi’s, 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 Diva’s, was in real estate.
“I’ve 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.
“There’s enough room for all of the consignment shops around here. If we don’t have something, we’ll send customers to another shop,” says Keena Darland, of Give Back Boutique.
And they all acknowledge they wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t 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 Norman’s Ladies Consignment Boutiques Cornelius
Brand Name Consignment704-896-0181 21304 Catawba Ave.www.merchantcircle.com/
Fifi’s Fine Resale Apparel 704-892-707020601 Torrence Chapel Road(Relocated near the Fresh Market) www.fifislkn.com
New To You Consignment Boutique 704-987-2324 428 South Main St.http://newtoyou.vpweb.com
Deja Diva’s Consignment Boutique704-489-22867915-B Natalie Commons Drivewww.dejadivas.com
Give Back Boutique704-663-3677 478 D Williamson Roadwww.givebackboutique.com(Entrance around back of building)
The Perfect Find704-995-4186 1236 Mecklenburg Hwy.www.facebook.com/theperfectfind