Affordable Classy Couture

By Amanda DeProspero
The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va.

“Kids” may be in the official name, but store owner Rhonda Rice is quick to point out that Cool Kids Consignment on the Mileground has more than just children’s clothes inside the boutique.

In fact, there’s a whole section dedicated to women’s attire.

“We have designer labels that are 50 to 70 percent off of retail,” Rice said. “We carry designer brands like Coach, Dooney and Bourke, Miss Me, Ralph Lauren, Chico’s, Ugg and some of the high-end items that people are coming in to look for.”

You’ll find clothing for newborns up to 3X in women’s and newborn to size 14 for boys.

“We primarily opened the doors as a kids’ store. We have grown and evolved into not only being a kids’ store, but also being a women’s,” she said. “We have our Classy Closet, our formalwear. We have pageant gowns. We now have a great selection of maternity that women come in shopping for on a regular basis, so within the past couple of years, our business has almost doubled.”

The consignment store opened about 4 years ago across from the old National Guard Armory on the Mileground. Rice said her husband, who was a military science professor at WVU, has been nothing but supportive and encouraged her in her dream of owning her own consignment shop.

In the last four years, Rice said the store has gained more than 2,000 consigners. It’s now the “largest upscale women’s and children’s consignment boutique” in Morgantown, she added.

“Consigners bring their items into us,” she said. “They can either be on hangers or folded in bins, but they do have to be clean. And we’re looking for like-new items.”

The store policy allows consigners to receive 40 percent of the sale price, and high-end items can earn the consigner up to 50 to 60 percent, Rice said. Items typically stay in the store for up to 60 days.

Kara Brown is a regular consigner. She has saved all of her 7-year-old daughter’s clothes through the years and often takes them up to the shop.

“I usually make a decent amount of money,” Brown said.

Heather DeMoss, a friend of Rice’s, is also a consigner and has been using the store since the day it opened. She consigns her children’s clothes once they outgrow them, and she’s also taken some women’s clothes into the shop as well.

“As a consigner, I like that her staff is very professional and friendly and efficient,” DeMoss said. “It’s very streamlined and I like that.”

Prices are set by the shop, Rice said, but store associates do a lot of research to put just the right amount on an item.
“There’s a little bit of a method to it that we work at,” she said.

“I think one of the things that sets us apart from our competitors is our sales staff. We have amazing sales associates that work very hard to take in amazing items …”

“It’s a great place to buy stuff. It’s a great place to sell stuff,” Brown said. “I love Rhonda, and I love her employees.”

The goal, Rice said, is to guide both consigners and customers so that they keep coming back.

It’s also important for Rice to give back to the community her shop serves.

She said the store has sponsored Little League baseball teams and been a pink ribbon sponsor for the area’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.

Items that don’t sell at Cool Kids Consignment are often donated to Christian Help; the organization comes in on a weekly basis for pick-ups.

“It’s really nice that we can help out families in need,” Rice said.

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