The Discovery Shop

Hopewell Consignment Shop

My Lily

Decorator’s Consignment Gallery

Princeton Consignment Boutique

One of a Kind

More Shops

Corrections or additions?

This article was prepared for the December 5, 2001 edition of U.S.

1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Queens of Consignment

Many retail merchandisers are apprehensive about the

holiday shopping season, hoping against hope that they can somehow

persuade shoppers to open their wallets. But some very small retailers

are not worried about the downturn in the economy or the public’s

mood. Consignment and resale shops, it seems, prosper in economically

difficult times.

To both buyers and sellers these stores offer savings and emotional

solace. For bargain hunters, they are more convenient than flea

markets

and garage sales. And buying "gently used" apparel and

antiques

yields a certain psychological satisfaction. Each item is a

mini-heirloom

being passed along to neighbors.

For sellers, it’s comforting to recycle cherished favorites and turn

them over to someone who will appreciate them. Says one shop owner:

"The one thing I hear over and over is `I’ve used it, we’ve had

it for 20 years, I’m looking for it to get a good home."

With two brand-new boutiques joining a group of more than a dozen,

the time seemed write to send writer Michele Alperin to explore the

consignment world. Along the way she met some fascinating

personalities:

a retired naval officer and his wife, four women who turned a 20-year

tennis game into an entrepreneurial partnership, a professional

actress,

and a former designer for Michael Graves.

First, Alperin offers a caveat. Shopping is not her favorite

occupation.

by Michele Alperin

Bluntly stated, I mostly hate shopping, and, deep down,

I don’t like to spend money either (a leftover, no doubt, from my

parents’ Depression-era childhoods). On a day-to-day basis, I have

little patience for fashion. But when ready to get dressed up, I’ve

finally adopted as my own the fashion excesses to which my height

apparently obligates me ("You’re tall; you can wear that!").

When forced into shopping for clothes, I have mostly haunted sales

and discount stores, but have lately found my way to the occasional

natural-fabrics boutique. In truth, even my recent dabblings into

style are traceable to early influences — for casual wear, a

quasi-avant-garde

"Chico" look that draws from the hippie that I never was in

the ’60s and for dress-up, a taste for high style that reflects a

rather conservative Atlanta childhood and a mother who made most of

my clothes, leaving me with a taste for quality and for the unique.

Having introduced my "shopping" idiosyncrasies, I can share

my first experiences with consignment and resale shops, leaving the

reader to adjust for my particular perspective. After all, consignment

shops reside somewhere in the netherworld between imagination and

reality, and any assessment of their "quality" is contingent

upon the singular human being who beholds them at a particular moment.

On an unconscionably warm day in late fall, I find myself on a

tree-lined

street in downtown Pennington, standing in front of a store window

whose cheery red-and-white painted sign announces "Second Time

Around." Its windows, stocked artfully with merchandise and

decoration,

include an attractive woven Mexican-style coatdress in Halloween

oranges

and yellows, with a pattern of Indian chiefs on horses riding across

the fabric. (Volunteer Jacquie Weber, former manager of the Discovery

Shop, designs these windows, working magic every six weeks or so by

turning a theme and a pile of related items into a well-turned

window).

The front door is held open by two unusual creations — one

doorstop

in the form of a dog and another, a china flower arrangement. Every

small detail in a thrift shop lends itself to the total ambience that

defines the store.

At the doorway, I am overwhelmed by the plethora of stuff, mostly

clothing, either hung along the walls or on racks in the middle, or

folded in baskets around the room. I note some jewelry that I want

to examine more carefully, but then proceed to check out the goods,

trying to free my imagination and open myself to the experience. A

little daunted perhaps by a not-so-unconscious fear of

"cooties,"

I start to explore.

A pair of Nine West heels on the shoe rack would have made the Wicked

Witch of the West proud — black suede with satin ribbons for only

$12. The manager of nine years, Pat Hornyak (first a customer!),

believes

that shoes are the store’s best kept secret. According to Hornyak,

it is much easier to determine the quality and wear on shoes than

on a piece of clothing, and many pairs haven’t been worn beyond the

hour it took for the owner to realize that they didn’t fit.

In the back is a rack of "fancier" children’s clothes as well

as several baskets of play clothes. Children’s clothes don’t stay

on their racks very long, says Hornyak, and only certain sizes are

consigned; boys size 5 to 8 clothes, for example, usually get beaten

up before they might get to the store.

Rummaging among the masses of clothes, I see a Christmas sweater,

with some pilling, for $8; a classy man’s straw hat with fancy

variegated

feathers for $25; china dolls for about $25 each; and a whole rack

of funky fur jackets for varying prices. After noting a man’s jacket

in blaring cranberry (46 regular, $15) and a couple of garish baby

dresses, I spend a moment wondering why people had ever bought these

things in the first place. But, then, style is such a personal thing.

I ask Hornyak why she thinks people donate clothes to consignment

shops. Sometimes, she says, children grow so quickly that they never

get to wear certain outfits, or they have grandmothers who give them

too many presents. Women may ditch clothes because they like change,

or they may simply change sizes. But the fact is that many people

consign clothes; Hornyak has consigners from as far as Park Avenue

and Seattle, Washington.

Second Time Around, owned and operated by the Unitarian church in

Princeton, celebrated its 25th anniversary in October. "It’s

unusual

to have such longevity, " says Hornyak, citing two other stores

that had gone under since she’s been at the helm.

To what does she attribute the store’s long life? It’s a place where

people really talk to each other and share information. Recently,

when one customer mentioned she was looking for a piano, another

customer

offered a piano that was sitting in her home, unused.

And customers feel supported by Hornyak and her 19 volunteers. She

remembers hemming a dress on a customer who had purchased the garment

to wear at a picture shot for a commercial. Foreign-language-speakers

appreciate efforts by the staff to speak to them in their native

tongues

and "find the store easier to maneuver in," says Hornyak.

As a skeptical first timer, always overwhelmed by the

sight of rows upon rows of clothing, I ask Hornyak what brings people

to consignment shops. The regulars — and she knows all these by

name — are usually women who work part-time, are married, have

a family, and are shopping for more than one person. Hornyak says

they come to shop for work or for special occasions. "Everyone

has something to wear to the supermarket," she explains. But

mothers

looking to deck out their sons for a wedding should be forewarned

that she can’t seem to keep boys’ navy blue blazers in the store.

Often people come in looking for costumes — to portray characters

in a book, for re-enactments, for school and community theater; and

for murder mysteries that people stage in their homes. Hornyak keeps

at her fingertips three reference books on costumes, including

Costumes

Through the Ages.

And the real truth is, as a customer standing nearby piped in,

"women

love to get a good bargain." If you are wavering about a purchase

and the price is cheap enough, you buy it.

But what really draws people is the magic. Comparing it to department

store shopping, Hornyak says "it is more whimsical." Certainly

some people are more comfortable at Macy’s or Lord & Taylor’s, Hornyak

admits, where they can "see things put together" and buy the

most current styles. "But," says Hornyak, "those who find

a department store limiting, come here." At a consignment store,

she explains, you can try on something that you wouldn’t ever try

on elsewhere. Recently a grandmother tried on a long skirt —

something

she had never done before. It looked great and she took it with her.

Or, the girl whose mother was sick of Bolo-Bouncers and jacks as party

favors and sent her to the consignment shop with money and

instructions

wrapped in a plastic bag. She went home with nine sterling silver

rings for $3 apiece, the maximum her mother had set.

Hornyak says her customers are also attracted to the variety and

quality

of her merchandise; clothes that are consigned must be seasonal, less

than five years old, clean, and in good repair. And because each

consigner

functions, in essence, like the buyer in a department store, variety

is endemic. "In Macy’s, they have 12 buyers; here we have 286

buyers," she explains. Customers trust that Hornyak will be

"authentic"

with them. "If something doesn’t look good, we tell them,"

she says. "If something is new or a dress was just taken out of

a cleaner’s bag, we tell them."

Well, I hope they were being straight with me when they told me they

liked the $12 Guatemalan embroidered vest that I walked out with

(remember

the hippie influences) — and it just needs a couple of tucks in

the back so that it will really fit. I also bought three pairs of

earrings (one for me and two for my daughter, priced at 50 cents,

$3, and $4). I now feel a sense of camaraderie with Hornyak and her

volunteers, as I remember her gleeful comment: "It costs us all

a fortune to work here." I may end up spending more on this

writing

venture than I get paid for the article.

Second Time Around, 12 North Main Street,

Pennington

08534. Pat Hornyak, manager. 609-737-2828. Open weekdays from 10:30

a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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The Discovery Shop

In perfect counterpoint to Second Time Around, the

Discovery

Shop in Pennington provides aid and comfort to the department

store-inclined.

From a window that mixes Christmas and patriotism to the beautifully

displayed clothes and decorative items, the front room of this

American

Cancer Society resale shop has the feel of a fancy boutique —

a rattan display case, attractive rugs on the floor, and tags on the

front rack that run from "real designers" to those that flood

department store shelves, e.g., from Albert Nippon to Liz Claiborne

on down to Talbot’s.

At this store, I’m a little flabbergasted by the quality of the

entirely

donated clothes. Lovely sequined dresses, dressy shoes, wool suits

in top condition. Who can afford to give up such lovely clothes?

The underside of charitable donation to this resale shop is a consumer

society where everything is fungible. But philosophy and ethics aside,

my own mildly stunted fashion consciousness awakens at the sight of

a dressy silk outfit for $30 — a high-fashion affair by Adrianna

Papell (sounds like a designer, anyway) with big shoulder pads and

a top that closes like a kimono (I later found similar suits

advertised

for consignment on the Internet at varying prices, up to $100). I’m

not sure it’s my style, and it hits me mid-knee (which may not work

that well at 50, but what the heck?)

Repressing my qualms, I decide that it really looks great on me; it’s

cheap; and I only have one other dressy outfit; so I buy it.

Besides the draw of high quality merchandise that you pay for with

a check to the American Cancer Society, this shop is neat and well

organized. Each clothing genre has its own rack-dressy outfits, suits,

sweaters, skirts, and even exercise clothes and sweats (having tried

on several pairs of sweat pants at Marshalls, leaving in failure,

I jump at the chance to buy a pair of cranberry sweats with painted

flowers on the left leg for a mere $2.50).

Among the carefully sized clothes are also some glassware, jewelry,

china plates, hats, books, tapes, and a small selection of children’s

and men’s clothes scattered in the back.

While checking out, I encounter a habitual consignment store shopper,

Beth Potter, and ask her what has kept her coming. She confides,

"It

takes a certain kind of person." As the second-to-youngest child

in a large family, she says, "I am accustomed to the idea of

things

being used and re-used." Her hand-me-down childhood also frees

her from a fashion code that dictates the discarding of clothes after

three years. She bought stuff for her kids at consignment shops, until

they reached a certain age and "starting having an attitude about

used things" and were drawn to malls and brand names.

At the Discovery Shop, Potter also knows that the monies she spends

are recycled, doing something helpful. Probably the bottom line for

Potter is that she is an artist and likes to either wear what she

finds or turn it into a piece of artwork. "I like the discovery

aspect; it’s like a treasure hunt," she explains. She ended our

conversation with a nod to the Goodwill store, an exemplary thrift

shop in Bordentown frequented by those in the know. "At Goodwill,

they don’t know Calvin Klein from Oscar Mayer; it’s all $5," sums

up this aficionado of the secondhand.

The Discovery Shop, 25 Route 31 South, Pennington

Shopping Center, Pennington 08534. Kelly Gauber, manager.

609-737-2211.

Open Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Hopewell Consignment Shop

What I first notice about this brand-new consignment

shop is the handwritten sign that proclaims its existence in

multi-colored

glittery letters. Not disappointing any expectations raised by the

opening herald, the shop within has a dreamy quality, clearly put

together by someone with the strong visual sense that I completely

lack and therefore admire. Walls in varying shades of purple, a

Chinese

lantern, and netting laced with tiny, glittering lights on the ceiling

— they give me the sense of walking into a special place.

Everything in the two-room store is placed with loving care —

a cello in a velvet-lined case leans against one wall, a crocheted

afghan ($8) is draped over the drawer of an antique wooden chest

($325),

a framed Lou Gehrig picture and postage stamp ($20) and two funky

purple dresses hang on the walls; and an open trunk displays folded

woolen scarves.

Owner Jennifer Clark admits that she places a premium on ambience.

She tries for a Bohemian aura, "a place where people feel it’s

magical when they come in." She wants her customers to feel like

"it’s fun, not just a shopping place." The decorations reflect

her own life experience. The cheesecloth and Christmas lights were

inspired by a high school big band function. The idea of a wall

"sponge-painted"

in two shades of purple (her favorite color) came from work she did

for a painter, but realizing that sponges cost $10 apiece, Clark hit

on the idea of using plastic bags instead.

The combination of life experience, pragmatism, vision, and the

willingness

to take a risk combined to make the 28-year-old Clark decide to leave

her job as a receptionist and try consignment again. As a child in

Bernardsville, she had helped out in her parents’ hardware store,

and she had worked in a consignment shop in Mendham from ages 15 to

19. For this young woman who played shop as a kid, writing out her

own receipts, it was time to follow her heart.

The experience of September 11 also played a role. With the

encouragement

of her boyfriend, Michael Bertoni, a salesman at Computer Associates

on Route 206, she decided to move beyond a secure paycheck and

benefits

and leave a job she didn’t like for the job of her dreams. It was

the right move. "Every day I come here, I feel happy," she

affirms.

Clark’s creative bent extends to generosity to local artists. She

provides display space for Ursula Kaplowitz’s pottery, for Amy

Haftkowycz’s

art glass beads, and for Fred Cuniglio’s painted glass, and she gives

her consigning artists the best deal of all her customers — she

keeps only 20 percent of proceeds and they get 80 percent.

Since the shop’s opening, with little advertising, she has gotten

plenty of merchandise, with about 40 consigners in the first two

weeks.

She varies what she pays a consigner, according to the type of

merchandise

and how attached to it the customer might feel; the split for clothes,

costume jewelry, shoes, and small collectibles is 50/50; for furniture

it is 60 to the consigner/40 to Clark; and for antiques, furs, and

wedding gowns, 70/30. "They mean more to a person so I try to

be generous," explains Clark.

What does Clark think it takes to be a successful consignment shop

proprietor? An appreciation for quality ("If I won’t buy it

myself,"

she says, "I won’t put it out"); the personality to create

relationships with clients; understanding (particularly when

purchasing

items from the estate of someone who has recently died); and good

pricing (which she bases on quality, brand name, fashion dictates,

and her own instinct and experience), with room for negotiation.

Hopewell Consignment Shop, 48 West Broad Street,

Hopewell 08525. Jennifer Clark, owner. 609-466-9640. Open Tuesday

to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Open until

8 p.m. on Fridays in December.

Top Of Page
My Lily

My Lily and the entrepreneur whose vision informs every

square inch of the store’s small, but carefully designed, space —

Susan Szymanski — are two sides of a coin. Formerly a graphic

designer for Michael Graves and Associates, Szymanski felt she had

"too many ideas of her own" and set out to build the very

business that reflects her multi-faceted self. "I love children,

recycling, reusing, and living responsibly," she says.

My Lily, at 6 Gordon Avenue in the Main Street section of

Lawrenceville,

opens on Thursday, December 6, with a reception from 4 to 7 p.m.

Szymanski grew up in Ewing and has lived in Princeton since she was

about 21. She has worked for a marketing firm and for U.S. 1 in

advertising.

As an adult, after her now 15-year-old son was born, she studied

illustration

at the Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia.

Having thought for a year and half about opening a consignment shop

for high-quality babies’ and young children’s clothes (through size

6), Szymanski felt the time was ripe. Her close friend Mary Harrison

— with whom she collaborates on the design of wedding invitations,

baby announcements, and the like — had rented a building to open

her own gift and stationary store, Euphorbia. Szymanski realized she

could sublet the empty upstairs quite reasonably, reducing startup

costs and enabling her to launch her store sooner.

Szymanski quit her job at Michael Graves and Associates — it was

time, she says — and wrestled the space into shape, transforming

ugly pink walls and wall-to-wall shag into a soothing, child-focused

environment. "It’s all about children, gentle images, color,

light,

and poetry," she says, weaving a visual image for the listener.

For Szymanski, presentation is paramount — communicating who she

is and what she values.

Citing the simplest of details — the matching hangers that will

distinguish her from many consignment shops and the tiny clothes

arranged

on the racks by color — she says, "It shows the client I

respect

my product."

Every aspect of the store’s physical design communicates with the

viewer. The colors are restrained, drawn from Szymanski’s favorite

William Morris wallpaper. White scalloped cornices above the wall

racks and at the divide between the two rooms — she designed them

herself on the computer — are stenciled with verses from "Moon

Song" by Mildred Plew Meigs ("Zoon zoon cuddle and croon over

the crinkling sea. . . ."). She came upon the poem in one of the

old books of children’s poetry that she collects. And on the floor

between the two rooms she is painting a pond to harmonize with the

store’s name, "My Lily."

Standing in the middle of one room is a crib — Szymanski’s own

— that has been converted into a hanging rack. Another piece of

furniture, with shelves on the customer side and space for a computer

on the other, was originally a large veneered bar, whose decorative

"splindley things" at the top attracted her to its potential

for transformation (today it could pass for a changing table). Another

closet-like structure Szymanski found on the side of a road, and its

owner, a stranger, took time off on her birthday to help Szymanski

cart it to her store and carry it up the stairs. She has also ordered

small garden gates for the doorways to keep babies away from the

stairs.

A bulletin board will serve as an exchange for items like furniture

that are too large for the store.

What will make Szymanski’s store different, she hopes, is the quality

and uniqueness of the clothes she is selling, "a notch above

typical

consignment," as she explains it. Her clothes will not be more

expensive, she emphasizes, but she wants to control the esthetic.

"No faces" is her watchword — nary a Barney, Bullwinkle,

or Big Bird. She will carry classic designs and natural fabrics —

no polyester.

To Szymanski, any secondhand object carries with it a piece of the

lives it has been part of. "Everything has a story, a past, even

if I don’t know what it is," she says. For her, each piece of

clothing is a mini-heirloom being passed along to neighbors. And in

the face of a disposable society, she will encourage her customers

to use the clothes, care for them, and then bring them back to her:

"I would love to see the same thing back three or four times."

Szymanski has some other ideas. One is brand-new baby dresses,

fashioned

from vintage patterns, and tote bags in vintage material, all handmade

by a seamstress close to Szymanski. These delightful dresses —

one even uses a pattern from one of her own baby dresses — are

also fun. She is also thinking about selling refurbished wooden cribs

and cradles with doll bedding made from vintage fabrics.

As for herself as an entrepreneur, Szymanski loves it. She says she

invests, makes decisions, solves problems, and evaluates on a daily

basis, without red tape. "Every day I accomplish something,"

she says. "Every day I feel so good, looking forward to tomorrow.

It’s a gift to love your work." And she sees her store as a gift

to her compatriots in re-use, recycle shopping: "It is an

opportunity

for those of us who are avid flea marketers and yard salers to do

it any day of the week."

My Lily, 6 Gordon Avenue Lawrenceville.

609-896-5885.

Susan Szymanski, owner. Open Thursday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Opening reception Thursday, December 6, 4 to 7 p.m.

Top Of Page
Decorator’s Consignment Gallery

With an antique-store feel to it, this shop, located

at the intersection of Route 571 and the Great Road, offers a large

variety of sometimes pricey but good quality furniture and

accessories.

Items stay in the store for a maximum of four months, with prices

going down by 10 percent a month.

Jason and Beverly Kidder opened the store in 1993. A 1964 graduate

of the U.S. Naval Academy, Kidder worked for Johnson & Johnson’s

Chicopee

division as director of engineering. His wife Beverly, a

radio/television/film

major from the University of Wisconsin (Class of 1971) had had a

career

in advertising and marketing, with Goodwill Industries (one of the

world’s leading resale shops) among her major accounts.

When Jason’s job disappeared with a corporate merger, he spent a year

looking for another job. "Then," says Beverly Kidder, "we

said . . . why not? His dad had been an antique dealer."

Now they have a two-building 5,000 square-foot enterprise, the biggest

furniture and household consignment shop in Central New Jersey. Items

offered here range from salt and pepper shakers for $5 and a $50

antique

soup tureen to a $9,000 Georgian bookcase, a bronze statue at $2,000,

and a set of 12 mahogany dining room chairs, $6,500. An Oriental-style

Henredon four-poster bed is $900.

"Our prices are competitive but I don’t price things to collect

dust. We work off our history," says Kidder. Perhaps 25 percent

of their business is in antiques, but the consignment business is

different from the antique business. "We are not adversarial with

our customers, we are not trying to buy low and sell high."

"Gentle wear" is accepted, she says, "but our customers

are purchase and plunk people. They have no time or resources to get

things brought up to standard." Sometimes the Kidders pay the

upfront costs to have an item refinished.

In addition to individual consignments, the Kidders also deal in

estates

and just took in the contents from "a huge estate from a fabulous

mansion in Princeton."

The Kidders’ geographical reach is into Long Island, up to Vermont,

and down to Maryland. They market to working couples with credit cards

— particularly those with the newer, larger upscale houses —

and to New Yorkers on the way to New Hope. An experienced radio

advertiser,

Beverly Kidder records her own voice commercials.

Since September 11, the number of calls for consignment appointments

have risen dramatically, and in response the Kidders will limit their

store hours even more after January 1. Hiring additional help is not

a possibility. "The point of my business is not to have

employees,"

she says.

She has also been doing a brisk business in Christmas presents.

"Especially

this year, with people edgy about going to malls and into New York

City." Gift possibilities include Steuben glass, Waterford

crystal,

Boehm figurines ($150) and a Herend china condiment bowl and plate

with spoon, $125.

On one recent visit, Kidder was heard rejecting a potential consigner,

but then advising her on how to sell her furniture, by putting up

an ad in the fanciest grocery store she can find and never, never

letting a potential buyer know that she is single.

Decorator’s Consignment Gallery, corner of Routes

518 and 601, Box 242, Blawenburg 08504-0242. Jason and Beverly Kidder,

owners. 609-466-4400. Open Thursday to Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

After January 1, the store will be open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

from noon to 6 p.m.

Top Of Page
Princeton Consignment Boutique

This Skillman shop has a department store look (size

is indicated on each hanger), with the mostly dressy and business

items of excellent quality and well arranged. Noteworthy is a

healthy-sized

maternity rack. Clothing accepted must be dry cleaned or washed and

ironed, in season, and "of the current style, within the past

two years."

The late Kitty Forward started this shop in the early 1980s in a tiny

shop in Kingston and about 10 years moved it to the Village Shopper

on Route 206. Lamis Faris, the current owner and an Equity actress,

was a part-time manager. "Kitty was the only person who would

give me a flexible schedule," says Faris, "so I could work

in New York." Now she coordinates her work schedule with four

employees. She trained at the Playmakers Rep in Chapel Hill, North

Carolina, and just finished a three-week one-woman show entitled

"Gawk."

"I think theater develops a flair for knowing how to assemble

an outfit," says Faris. "We get a lot of people who come

needing

an outfit for a particular effect. Our main competition is the

outlets.

We bring it all together and put outfits together that would fit the

need, from the ball at the governor’s mansion to the first interview

for a job."

Consignment shops will always have what she calls "the chop wood,

carry wood element," of taking in the clothes, checking them for

spots, pricing and hanging them. "But the fun part is dealing

with someone who wants something special."

Princeton Consignment Boutique, 1378 Route 206,

The Village Shopper, Skillman 08558. Lamis Faris, owner. 609-924-2288.

Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Thursdays to 8 p.m., on

Saturdays

from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m.

Top Of Page
One of a Kind

Founded in April by four women who had been tennis

partners

for 25 years, this Princeton Shopping Center store offers merchandise

true to its name: interesting and varied. The inventory includes

furniture

as well as many international knick-knacks and accessories at prices

ranging from what you would pay in an antique store to what you would

snap up at a flea market.

On hand in the store during one visit were: a Chinese tapestry (final

price, $176); an Oriental painted desk ($459); a sleeper sofa

($495.90);

a gorgeous Rosenthal dinner set for $1,255 or $28/dinner plate (but

there was also a set of stoneware for 12 on sale for $35); a large

screen, covered with huge flowers ($480); and a Japanese doll labeled

as "quite old" ($48). Each tag has three prices. If an item

is not bought in one month, the price goes down, and the customer

knows exactly what the price will be at any particular time.

The four partners are quite firm about doing everything together.

"We met on the tennis court, and we still play tennis on Monday

nights and go to dinner afterward. We go off at least one weekend

a year to New York," says Maryann Whitman. "We have just had

a wonderful relationship."

"Three of us have always liked furniture, going to auctions,

dragging

out the paint bucket and fixing something, giving it another life.

We have always said — wouldn’t it be fun to do something."

One of the partners, Altina Noel, had opened her shop in a tiny space

at Princeton Shopping Center in 1989 when her daughter went off to

college. Now Altina’s Custom Interiors, a full service interior design

studio, has 3,800 square feet.

When Noel moved to her larger space, the partners tried their wings

by opening in her former space for the remaining months on the lease.

It did so well that they moved it next door to 2,200 feet in the

former

Princeton Bakery space, with 17 feet of window front and double back

doors on the parking lot side for easy loading.

"We are holding our own," says Whitman, "and we are

putting

whatever we make back into the business." The managing partner

receives a salary and two other employees are paid. "After a

difficult

eight weeks we are still able to meet our demands. As we grow, we

learn what is more desired by our market."

Each partner contributes a different skill. Noel is the retailer.

Whitman was a speech pathologist and therapist who worked at the Rock

Brook School and then joined the board in a fundraising capacity.

Her dentist husband belongs to a large practice in Hamilton. After

working with the front desk people there, she has made medical office

work a specialty of her speech therapy consulting practice.

The third partner, Phyllis Chase, "is the person who steps in

to do whatever has to be done," says Whitman. With a full-time

job coordinating the athletic schedules at Princeton University, she

is married to Rice Chase, an attorney who is also an assistant to

Princeton lacrosse coach Bill Tierney.

Linda Halstead, a retired nurse, is the managing partner. The mother

of four and grandmother of five children, she and her husband, retired

Summit Bank executive Peter Halstead, have always been interested

in antiques. Halstead works two or three days a week and is the only

partner who gets paid.

"The one thing I hear over and over," says Whitman, "is

lovely people saying, `I’ve used it, we’ve had it for 20 years. I’m

looking for it to get a good home.’ These consigners aren’t looking

to make a bundle. They just want their possession to find a place

where it is appreciated."

One of a Kind Consignment Gallery of Princeton,

301 North Harrison Street, Princeton Shopping Center, Princeton 08540.

Open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4

p.m. 609-924-1227.

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More Shops

Nearly New Shop, 234 Nassau Street, Box 75,

Princeton

08542. 609-924-5720; fax, 609-924-7278. Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m.

to 5 p.m.

This is the grandma of all the consignment shops — it was founded

during World War II, and its proceeds benefit the Princeton Day

School.

In this store, much of the plentiful inventory had the feel of tired

clothing, one step away from a give-a-way box, and the racks were

very crowded. But a friend swears by the $4 pair of jeans she

purchased

there — fine for gardening. Of interest were some funky sequined

tops and black dresses suitable for teen dress up.

Clothes Encounters, 801 South Broad Street, Trenton

08611. Joe O’Toole and Rudy Costabel, partners. 609-392-3838. Home

page: www.sanfordmom.

The partners in this 20-year-old retail enterprise say their major

profits come, not from face-to-face sales, but from E-bay. Brands

beloved in Princeton, like Laura Ashley and Pringle, don’t sell well

in Trenton, but do sell on the Internet. Prices are sometimes 1,000

percent higher in an online auction, says Rudy Costabel.

In Trenton, they offer new and very lightly used upscale clothing

for women, and also for men and children. Such brand names as Chanel,

Liz Claiborne, Adrienne Vittadini, and Jones New York are priced,

new, at 25 percent of retail. Used clothing is 10 to 15 percent of

retail. It is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is a

half mile south of the Sovereign Bank Arena on Route 206.

Second Hand Rose Consignments, 225 Farnsworth

Avenue,

Bordentown 08505. Linda M. Simon. 609-298-9422; fax, 609-298-9425.

Home page: www.consignmentshops.com/secondhandrose.html

Linda Simon opened this store nearly seven years ago and splits the

sale price with her customers 50/50. In addition to new and

"well-cared

for" clothing and accessories for women, sizes 4 to 24, she also

has new gold and silver jewelry, perfumes, cosmetics, and giftware,

all at below retail prices. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and

on Thursdays and Fridays until 7. It will be open Sundays before

Christmas

from noon to 4 p.m.

Children’s Attic, 1008 Washington Boulevard,

Foxmoor

Shopping Center, Robbinsville 08691. Susan Bernet, owner.

609-371-9232;

fax, 609-758-5705. Open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday

from 10 to 4 p.m.

Goodwill Industries, 594 Route 206, Bordentown

08505. Bill Stevenson, manager. 609-291-0099; fax, 609-291-1850.

Household

goods, clothing, appliances, furniture, and books. Located next door

to Jaron’s Furniture and the old Bradlee’s building. Open 10 a.m.

to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday, Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

Rescue Mission of Trenton, 98 Carroll Street,

Trenton

08650. Mary Gay Abbott-Young, executive director. 609-695-1436. Open

Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 9 to 2:30 p.m. Household goods,

clothing, appliances, furniture, and such kitchen items as toasters

and irons.

Salvation Army Corps, 436 Mulberry Street, Trenton

08601. Lieutenant Charles Balcolm, commanding officer. 609-599-9801.

Open weekdays and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Clothing,

furniture,

appliances, bric a brac, shoes, bicycles, and books. Also at 15 Route

33, and at 2607 and 1842 South Broad Street.

Sweet Repeats, Routes 519 & 604, Cane Furniture

Farm, Rosemont 08556. Mary Hartom, owner. 609-397-9383. Clothing and

accessories for women. Wednesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.,

Saturdays

to 4 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.


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