By Al Warr Hunterdon County Democrat
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Recycling is moving uptown as many second-hand stores (now widely labeled consignment), frequently carry high-end exclusive brand labels.
Hunterdon County Democrat
Thrift shops were once more popular than they are today. Various organizations still support thrift shops to recycle clothing, household items, kitchenware, books, and just about everything else. In my college days, Goodwill and the Salvation Army welcomed me between classes.
But yesterday’s thrift shops are giving way to consignment operations. Especially with clothing and accessories -- for women and for men.
High-end items found in these newer shops frequently carry exclusive brand names. Recycling is moving uptown.
Today’s clothing consignment shop is very selective. Items accepted must have been gently used, of course -- ”worn only once” is common. High-end brand names are eagerly sought, and items are curated by the shop’s proprietor with an eye to clientele served.
“I offer a mix of items,” says Christopher Merritt. “It’s about 80 percent high-end and 20 percent unusual or vintage.”
Christopher and his wife operate B. Proper Men’s & Women’s Luxury Consignment. It’s located at 20 N. Union St. in Lambertville.
This shop offers many well-known brands. Items found here can include names like Gucci, Christian Dior, Lucchese, Ralph Lauren, Wrangler, Max Mara, Free People, Louis Vuitton, and others. In the past, Christopher offered a Tadashi gown from Saks Fifth Avenue and a Falguni Shane Peacock silk blouse in black, silver and gray.
“I’m looking for anything high-ended,” he explains. He gets unique things from his many contacts in Manhattan. “I grew up on Century 21 and worked for Macy’s. I have many contacts in the fashion industry, and some items are new.”
This shop carries clothing, bags, accessories, shoes -- alligator, anyone? You can bring in items for consignment, but call before coming. A typical consignment is for 60 days. The shop opens at 11 a.m. every day but it is closed on Wednesdays.
Greene Street Stores opened more than 20 years ago with its Main Line store outside Philadelphia. It specializes in mid- to high-end labels in an operation for both men and women. Items are offered on various terms -- buy/sell/trade/consign, but the arrangement varies from store to store. There are 10 locations, including Princeton and Lambertville.
Labels offered here are wide-ranging. They include Kate Spode, J.Crew, Theory, Burberry, Dior, Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Top Shop, Free People, and many more.
The Lambertville store does not currently offer men’s items.
The Junto Emporium opened in August of last year at 26 Bridge St. in Frenchtown. It is a strictly men’s only operation offering both new and consigned masculine items -- clothing and more for the well-dressed and well-groomed man.
“It doesn’t have to be new to be awesome,” says Kathleen Bernhardt. Right now the store has vintage clothing, coats, shoes, fall and winter wear. “And we need sweaters and flannel shirts for the seasonal shopper. Call and make an appointment if you want to consign.”
New items include locally handmade wallets, jewelry, soaps, shaving and beard-grooming items and more. How about outdoor wear by Fox River? Or, American made Farm To Feet socks? Or, Goorin Brothers hats?
Also in Frenchtown, you’ll find Country Chic. This store carries mostly items for women, but there is a small selection of items for men as well.
“We have been in business since 2011,” says Morgan Taylor. “I think people are finally realizing there’s an alternative way to fashion that doesn’t have to be so costly and wasteful.”
She notes that some big department stores like Macy’s and JCPenney are considering getting involved with the consignment world.
“People are starting to notice they have options to purchase and sell fashionable used items at great prices,” Morgan continues. “Buying second-hand no longer means that things aren’t comparable, or even better in some cases, than what can be found new in traditional retail outlets. Try finding vintage, unique, hand-made, or locally made items at a mall.”
The success of Country Chic reflects Morgan’s understanding of today’s marketplace and where it is currently headed.
“There has undoubtedly been a noticeable spike in the demand for like-new, but used, quality clothing that people can afford,” she continues. “We only accept things that are in like-new condition, current and classic styles, and seasonally appropriate. We accept all styles from casual to tee shirts, occasion styles like gowns and cocktail dresses, and activewear. I like to say that we accept brands from Gap to Gucci.”
Labels commonly found here include Ann Taylor, Eileen Fisher, J.Crew, Anthropologie, Talbots, Coach, BCBG, Abercrombie & Fitch, J.Jill, Lululemon, Free People, Athleta, Chicos, Lucky Brand and many more.
“While our inventory is heavily focused on already-loved items, we also offer a wide variety of new items,” she adds. “These include jewelry, candles, soaps, and other unique gifts. We prioritize featuring locally-made, fair trade, Made in USA, and products that use up-cycled materials.”
The Califon Consignment Boutique was established in 2009. It’s located at 58 Main St. in Califon, and it has developed a faithful clientele over the years.
Carol Perry Lamperti runs this establishment. She has a long history dealing with recycled clothing and accessories. The flagship store was established in North Plainfield in 1971.
The Califon Consignment Boutique specializes in women’s clothing, handbags, shoes and boots, sweaters and scarves, jewelry and more. Popular items move very quickly here.
The store is open Wednesday to Sunday, closed Monday and Tuesday. Consignments regularly arrive from near and far -- New Jersey, New York, Florida, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
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