There must be a few women, who like the vast majority of men, hate to shop for clothes. They find it an onerous necessity to be dispatched with the speed of the Road Runner.
On the other hand, there are many whose idea of nirvana is spending countless hours strolling through store after store. For them, clothes shopping can be, alternately, a sport – akin to hunting, jogging, wrestling, and fishing; a form of therapy; or, if done with a group of other women, a happy hour minus the alcohol and hors d’oeuvres.
Yet, these trying economic times have put a crimp in many shopping budgets. What’s a woman to do when she has champagne taste on a beer budget? In the words of Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw, “If I don’t stop shopping, I’ll end up a bag lady; a Fendi bag lady, but a bag lady.”
Thanks to the opening of a new store in West Hartford Center, we can have our Fendi and still keep a roof over our heads. Second Time Around, an upscale consignment boutique, has opened its doors at 977 Farmington Avenue. Located in the former Rugged Bear site, Second Time Around carries new and almost new designer clothing and accessories for women at a fraction of their original costs.
Inveterate shoppers will drool as they peruse the shelves and racks and spot designer names that include Prada, Gucci, Chanel, St. John, Ferragamo, Jimmy Choo, and Christian Louboutin.
The West Hartford store is part of a Massachusetts-based company that has grown to include 27 budget-friendly boutiques in 11 states since opening its flagship shop in 1973. The West Hartford location opened on December 17, and joins its Connecticut sister locations in Greenwich and Westport.
With a total of 50,000 consignors and a constant influx of new merchandise, the inventory in all of the stores changes constantly. Despite having been open for just a few weeks, the West Hartford store was recently showcasing an impressive amount of designer pieces, neatly arranged and identified on racks.
Shelves of high-end shoes, handbags and belts lined the walls. A sparkly silver pair of barely worn Christian Louboutin stilettos were intriguing and priced well below their usual high cost. A vast selection of designer jeans with familiar names such as Seven For All Mankind, True Religion, J Brand, AG, Joes and Citizens were displayed.
In addition to consignment, the store features its "Back to Basics" collection of affordable cotton tops and leggings and affordable jewelry.
Store Manager Jenny Bailey has an extensive retail background including positions with Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicos, The Gap, and the Rugged Bear. She exudes a great knowledge about high-end fashion, reflecting her ten years of working in Saks’ various haute couture departments. Yet she also clues into the brands that the younger generation are looking for.
Bailey hopes the store will draw all ages of women. “Our goal is to attract the younger girls who buy brands like Free People and Ella Moss, and then we can attract Mom and then Mom’s Mom.”
Marketing Director Jeanne Nicholson shares Bailey’s aspiration for the store. “Our stores really take on the identity of the locations, which creates a pretty diverse and interesting customer base for the entire company. Generally, we host a great mix of young professionals, stylish moms and affluent fashion devotees, all with different budgets and unique styles. What I love about Second Time Around is that we have been lucky enough to cater to people who love fashion, recognize a great deal and live for the hunt. This applies to girls who are just out of college and living on a strict budget to affluent society women. They all want amazing style for less, especially in this economy.“
If you would like to purge your closet before adding anything new to it, the store is always looking for new consignors and it is an easy way to make a few extra dollars. Your clothing must be high-end, stylish labels, no more than two years old. The pieces must be seasonally current, without stains or damage.
The store will be accepting spring clothes in two more weeks. You must have at least three items in order to set up an account. Items are prices 25 to 30 percent off the retail value and the consignor will receive 40 percent of the items’ selling price with payments made quarterly. The consignment period is 90 days, after which the consignor is responsible to retrieve any unsold items. Unlike other consignment stores, your account can be accessed on the Internet to track sold items and the proceeds in your account.
The store also offers a frequent buyer card, which when presented at checkout, will be credited with $1.00 for every $10.00 of merchandise purchased to use on shoppers’ next visit.
Second Time Around is committed to maintaining its vision of upscale consignment boutiques by relying on store managers to vet incoming merchandise and choose only the best items from consignors. Nicholson states that the managers are trained to “curate” their stores, much like buyers for the company. Nicholson also notes that the location of stores is important. “West Hartford has everything we were looking for: proximity to a city, great community atmosphere, and a fantastic sense of style. For us, it was a natural fit and we hope that the West Hartford community likes us as much as we like them.”
In addition to keeping the standards high for her West Hartford store, Bailey hopes to impart to customers that Second Time Around is not your run-of-the-mill consignment store. “Resell can be upscale,” she emphasizes.