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Consignment stores offer low-cost quality

Somewhere between Younkers and Goodwill there's a relatively new breed of retail stores popping up in Duluth making an impact on how people, primarily women, shop for clothing. It is called consignment, and it's the fastest growing retail industr...

Somewhere between Younkers and Goodwill there's a relatively new breed of retail stores popping up in Duluth making an impact on how people, primarily women, shop for clothing. It is called consignment, and it's the fastest growing retail industry in the country.
The definition of consignment, according to the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops, is "a shop that accepts merchandise from people and pays them a percentage when and if the items are sold." Julie Nynas-Anderson, owner of Closet to Closet Consignment Shoppe at 1131 East 4th Street, says Duluthians are starting to catch on to the idea. "It's a nice way for people to make money on things they don't wear anymore," said Nynas-Anderson.
Nynas-Anderson said she opened one of the first consignment stores in Duluth several years ago. Her store is primarily geared toward high school and college age students due to the large amount of casual clothing and brand names like Gap, American Eagle, Polo and Old Navy that are often available. "When kids come in here, at first they're kind of unsure. Then they say, 'These are the brands that I wear, and I can get two or three for the price of one,' sometimes even more," said Nynas-Anderson.
She and other consignment shop owners in town are very scrupulous about the clothing they accept. "Clothing must be good quality and totally clean," said Nynas-Anderson. "It must be within two years in style and in season. And, it must be on hangers." Owners of the clothing receive an average 40 to 45 percent of the selling price, which is an industry standard.
Sandy Buckley and Kathi Davis are co-owners of Another Look Women's Consignment Boutique at 1227 East Superior Street that has been in operation for around two years. Buckley is also the owner of Second Childhood at 1342 West Arrowhead Road that has been in business for over five years. "We expanded into women's clothing because there was a demand for it," said Buckley.
Buckley says they've spent a lot of time and money educating people on the idea of consignment. "It's different now. It isn't where you go into a dark, dingy store and everything's piled on tables, and you dig through it," said Buckley. In fact, some people can't tell the difference between consignment and a regular retail store. "We have people who come in who can't tell that it's used stuff. If they have to ask, then we know we've done our jobs," said Davis.
Buckley and Davis say their store doesn't cater to any one group in particular. "It's low income, high income, working women, teen-agers," said Buckley. "You can shop here and find clothes from everywhere. Our customers like the selection and price."
One of the newest consignment stores in town is Dannie-Duluth at 932 East 4th Street. Owner Danielle Jelinski opened the store in October of 1999. In addition to being a consignment store, Jelinski travels to Santa Cruz, Calif., where she lives part of the year, to buy clothes for resale. "The close proximity to really wealthy neighborhoods is what my luck has been," said Jelinski. "I have a list of regular clientele, and I go right to their homes and buy out of their wardrobes. I also visit charity stores in wealthy neighborhoods where people donate for the tax deduction. In California, they wear something once or twice and then donate it."
Jelinski describes her store as an upscale resale/consignment boutique that features names not available in Duluth -- Giorgio Armani, Escada and Versace to name a few. "One of my customers said she saw a skirt by Escada in Nordstrom in Minneapolis for $1,200, and the same skirt was $40 in my store. That's the kind of thing I want to let people know," said Jelinski.
While her store is gaining a reputation for high quality business and formal wear, Jelinski is trying to attract young casual wear to appeal to the university market. She has dreams of expanding as well. "My future plans include a chain of upscale resale boutiques."
Nynas-Anderson, Buckley, Davis and Jelinski all agree that the demand for consignment is becoming greater and greater. "It's not necessarily for people on a budget. It's for people who are smart," said Jelinski. "It's got to be a winning combination -- quality garments at a cheap price. How can we lose?"

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