Second-hand shops mounting a retail invasion

Donna Wallis owns Broadmoor Consignment Store on 8th Street in Colorado Springs. She said business has been good during the recession.

Consignment stores and resale shops were once well-kept, trendy shopping secrets that were tucked away in obscure retail locations, but poor economic times have them popping up on the affluent north side of town and among downtown boutiques.

The reason is the simple law of supply and demand: shoppers want them.

“Every day, there is a continual flow of new people who come in and discover us for the first time,” said Donna Wallis, who owns Broadmoor Consignment Store on 8th Street.

Wallis sells high-end women’s clothing on consignment and buys overstock from defunct or struggling boutiques around the country. She said her customers are typically people who are looking for a good deal, an opportunity to look nice and save a little money while they’re at it.

Wallis’ opened her store nine years ago, and it has been growing ever since. This hasn’t been her busiest year, she said, but the mere fact that she is still expanding in these times seems like an accomplishment, she said.

Other consignment shops are popping up, too, to claim a share of the resale market.

Porscha Shidler opened her 3,000-square foot Once Upon a Child resale store near the intersection of Academy Boulevard and Woodmen Road three weeks ago. The store specializes in clothing and toys for children.

“We had lines when we opened the doors at 10 a.m. the first day,” Shidler said.

The store has only been open for purchasing and won’t open to sell items until July 21, Shidler said.

Consignment and resale shops aren’t just a place to go for a deal, she said. They offer an opportunity to recover some value from the investments that people have already made in their clothing.

“Most people, if they weren’t coming here with their things, would leave them in the garage waiting for the next friend to need baby clothes,” Shidler said. “Or they would have taken them to Goodwill after a while. That’s a donation. Here, at least they get a little something for it.”

Shidler said she will sell items for 50 to 70 percent of what they would normally sell for at retail stores and will pay sellers 30 to 50 percent of that.

The shop is a franchise operated by the same corporation that manages Plato’s Closet, another second-hand shop that has one Colorado Springs location at 925 N. Academy Blvd.

Shidler said she decided to do business with the franchise because it offers pricing and other resources, including recall notices.

She began thinking about the business idea while she was pregnant and had trouble finding affordable clothes and other items in town.

“I hated the idea of spending a lot of money on things they’ll only wear a couple times,” Shidler said. “And the only option I had living here was Craigslist.”

She said Craigslist was a pain because she’d drive all over to look at things only to be disappointed and would still feel obligated to buy.

“We needed a craigslist store here,” Shidler said, “somewhere you can go to find quality used items and someplace where you can sell quality used items.”

She said she’s had no trouble at all filling her store with used goods. Families have been eager to bring in their “gently used” baby items.

Another business, My Walk in Closet, opened earlier this year at 4853 N. Academy Blvd. The undertaking has been successful so far, said owner Brian Wilgus, who opened the store with his wife after the two were looking for a new location for their flower shop and found a location with extra space.

“It’s doing really well,” he said.

My Walk in Closet carries mid-range clothing for young women, and it recently added a section for men’s clothing.

The environment is ripe for consignment and resale right now, said Jeanne Galvin, who owns the newly-opened Tillie & Toad at 125 N. Tejon St.

Galvin owned Mt. Tejon in the same location for years. She closed it down this spring and has reopened with some of the same clothing she carried before, local artisan jewelry and an expanded back half of her store that will be devoted entirely to resale and consignment.

“I think it will be a good complement to the new clothing we sell,” she said.

She decided to add consignment and resale to her shop because customers were asking for it, she said.

“They come in and tell me what a great idea it would be,” Galvin said. “They shop consignment. They want it.”

Galvin is accepting items and expects it will take some time to fill the racks in the back of her store with clothing. But she’s excited about adding the new element to her new shop, named for former family pets.

“Who doesn’t want to save some money in this economy?” Galvin said.