By Matt McDonald
In the midst of an economic downturn, shoppers inevitably search for the best quality items at the lowest possible prices. As many typical retailers wilt under the pressure, consignment and resale establishments, America’s hidden gems, are growing in popularity. Whether people sell lightly used items outright to a resale shop, or split sale profits with a consigner, Americans are recycling — to the tune of 13 billion dollars of annual revenue for the resale industry. For consumers, the recycling process means preserving their wallets and bank accounts. Recently, my friend was saved from a frigid evening on Margaret Street by a pair of corduroys and a sweater, which he purchased from one of Plattsburgh’s consigners, DressCode, for less than 20 dollars.
With twenty dollars, shoppers at establishments like DressCode, Fashion Exchange, the Jungle, and Cache’ Elegant open themselves to myriad possibilities. Name-brand clothes, footwear, purses, home decorations, jewelry, accessories — these stores have something to offer all visitors, from the casual tourist to the avid gift-getter.
Peg Tucker of Fashion Exchange points to her store’s luxurious yet affordable lineup, featuring popular labels for all ages: L.L. Bean, American Eagle, Chicos, Coldwater Creek — shoppers also won’t be surprised to find Canadian tags on her racks. She says that “the quality of the inventory has gone up,” especially of late. She’s become more and more selective, and her attention to detail distinguishes her stock; customers will leave with top-quality products in their bags.
Speaking of distinguished, the charming, boutique-like aura of Cache’ Elegant sets it apart from typical shop stops. Owner Barbara Hugus emphasizes the “one of a kind” nature of her store. Shoppers are bound to find at least several items on her shelves unlike any they’ve seen before: creative and classic pieces that will add an artistic touch to a refurnished apartment, or a new home; simple and flashy jewelry. Also true of its apparel section, the shop features a balance of the old and the new. It’s an appealing balance for shoppers in all age groups.
Featuring a variety of brands, including Ann Taylor, L.L. Bean, and Patagonia, and an extensive collection of shoes, purses, and books, DressCode also attracts a wide range of shoppers.
“There’s something for everybody,” says owner Julie Woodley. “They just need to explore.”
With two levels and a shop for overflow, DressCode Basement, Julie’s establishment gives shoppers plenty to explore. On select days at DressCode Basement, customers can buy a garbage bag for ten dollars and fill it with anything, like an all-you-can-find clothing buffet.
While benefits for consumers are obvious — they can spend the day store-hopping and still be able to pay for dinner — the value of selling items through these businesses is not to be missed. Because of the Basement, consigners at DressCode never have to see their clothes again, and they don’t need an appointment to drop off their items. Barbara offers Cache’ Elegant clothing consigners a 50/50 split of the profits. Fashion Exchange consigners have the opportunity to receive account credit for being regulars; they can earn money back just for recycling.
Sellers and shoppers at these stores can also expect excellent customer service. Why? Peg, Barbara, and Julie are top-notch owners. They’re not working just to work; they run their shops because they love what they do.
“I’ve always loved it,” Peg says. “It’s fun.” Proof of the value of her dedicated leadership: Fashion Exchange is celebrating its 20th anniversary this spring.
Owner, cashier, spokesperson, helper — Barbara is Cache’ Elegant. She even supplies some of the stock herself, and offers customers the opportunity to shop after hours on an appointment basis.
Julie characterizes staff at locally owned businesses as generally “friendlier,” providing customers a “personal” experience that they may not have at the big-name chains. She also points out that when people shop at small businesses, they connect with the city itself.
“There’s so much to see, eat, and do downtown. Everyone mingles.”
Peg adds similar sentiments, emphasizing the network that Plattsburgh’s businesses form with one another. Just by shopping at a few consignment stores, customers can learn about restaurants, other shops, and entertainment; they can feel the city tick.
Barbara summarizes Plattsburgh’s hidden gems in a few words to North Country visitors: “They should check out the shopping possibilities in downtown Plattsburgh. It’s one of a kind.”
So the next time you’re in the neighborhood, remember that downtown Plattsburgh is only a few minutes’ drive past Wal-Mart and the Champlain Centre. You’ll never know how far 20 dollars will take you until you explore.
For more information about these and other resale/consignment shops in the Plattsburgh area, visit www.GoPlattsburgh.com/previouslyloved .