Consignment shops have become the new favorite of bargain-savvy shoppers and municipal governments looking to boost local redevelopment efforts.
Since its opening five years ago, Baby Posh, an Aventura consignment shop that specializes in gently used baby-wear, has been a huge success with moms.
“A lot of them have told us that it look like an expensive boutique, but when they come in and see how cheap everything is, they go nuts,” said owner Julie Tenenbaum. “We have made a niche for ourselves.”
After receiving 20 franchise requests — one even from Poland — the consignment store is currently in the process of opening its first: in Dania Beach.
The city is in the process of changing its zoning code to allow consignment shops along parts of Dania Beach Boulevard and Federal Highway. Hollywood is considering a similar change in its downtown area.
“They seem to be really popular,” said Corinne Lajoie, the principal city planner at Dania Beach. “There is even a reality show about them.”
According to Lajoie, the city had several reasons for allowing more consignment shops. With the economy hurting over the past years, there was a growing demand for cheaper shopping alternatives.
Consignment shops meet this need and at the same time encourage people to spend their money in an area that Dania Beach is looking to improve.
“We are encouraging redevelopment to occur in these areas,” Lajoie said.
Also, consignment shops have more control over the merchandise than donation centers and thrift shops, which sometimes have trouble keeping up with the steady flow of donations.
“Thrift, you’re cleaning your closet and you’re bringing a trash bag full of items and leaving it there on the way to work on a Monday morning,” Lajoie said.
At a consignment shop, customers give them to the store to be sold, with a usually 50-50 split of the profit.
“There is a lot more control,” Lajoie said.
Hollywood’s Community Redevelopment Agency Director Jorge Camejo hopes to eventually change the zoning code to allow consignment shops in his city’s downtown area. Currently, they are not permitted but antique shops are, a fact which Camejo thinks he can use to get the code changed.
“It was missed opportunity,” said Camejo. “There’s a whole market out there for reusable materials.”
Camejo also named the economic downturn as one of the reasons he had begun to consider allowing consignment shops.
“They’re great for lower to middle class families,” Camejo said. “It’s important for us to adapt to that.”
He also hopes to attract more foot traffic to the downtown area by offering better shopping options.
“With consignment shops, shopping becomes a treasure hunt,” Camejo said. “Historically, they have a negative perception. But we want to develop performance standard, signage, storefronts, and make them popular.”
Many consignment shops, like Baby Posh, have already proven themselves successful.
At Fashionista Boutique in Coconut Grove, owner Valerie Pazmino has an uptick over the last year in the quality of items customers have been consigning. Her boutique specializes in high-end clothing, “anything you could find at Neiman or Saks Fifth.”
“People are more willing to relinquish items that they wouldn’t have done before,” Pazmino said.
Fort Lauderdale’s Encore Interiors runs a truck service to pick up items customers are consigning and has had to increase the number of times the truck goes out every week.
“We have had to up the service,” said Chuck Wilson, the owner of the store. “People are downsizing or changing their décor. A lot of stuff comes and goes very quickly.”
Wilson has also noticed better quality pieces coming through his store.
“We keep getting better and better quality items,” he said. “Because we have been getting nicer things, people are coming to us with nicer things.”
But he believes that is the convenience of consignment shops that keeps bringing customers back.
“A lot of people don’t want to be bothered with the process of selling it by themselves,” Wilson said. “It’s becomes a job for them. They bring it to us, and it becomes a job for us. It’s a drop and go and collect the check when you’re done.’’