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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, July 3, 2001

Island Style
Designer labels offered for less than you'd expect

By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer

Debbie Saville of Hawai'i Kai loves the thrill of the hunt, and her favorite hunting grounds are consignment stores. "I get fantastic designer stuff at a fraction of the cost," she said, almost breathless with enthusiasm. "I'm into fashion and I like to own a lot of clothes. What you can find at consignment stores is different, not the same-old same-old."

Judy Joseph and daughter Susan Sanger, right, own Pzazz!, where fashion-conscious women give quality clothing new life by consigning the pieces for resale. When the designs sell, consignors receive a cut; clothes that don't sell are donated to worthy causes.

Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu Advertiser

She finds everything, from clothes to accessories, at Pzazz, The Ultimate You and Comme Ci Comme Ca. Among her finds: Ferragamo shoes, St. John knits; classic designer pumps for $4 and $5. She even found bargains in fine jewelry at the Consignment Corner.

When Gloria Affigne of Wai'alae had to go on a Mainland business trip one February, she first visited The Ultimate You, where she purchased an Escada suit for under $200 and a pair of Joan and David wool pants, originally $300, for $50.

Said consignment fan Ann Reynolds of Makiki, "I can't imagine why anyone would pay retail when you can get it for less." She makes the rounds of consignment stores, always checking in with Pzazz! and The Ultimate You and usually with ConsignmentCorner and Comme Ci Comme Ca, about once a month. "I like the clothes you can find there. It's the type of clothing that isn't available in the stores today."

Reynolds looks for high-quality classics that may have been purchased new years ago but are still in good condition.

Last week, she found a peach jacket she loved for $30 at Pzazz. The skirt had a little mark on it so the owners gave it to her. She had the skirt dry cleaned and the spot came right out. When she needed an evening gown, she found an all-over sequin gown for $99 at Consignment Corner.

The secret to consignment shoppers' success is that they go prepared to spend some time (Affigne suggested wearing comfortable shoes) and to recognize good fabric and quality construction and they have a pretty clear idea of their own personal style.

Consignment stores differ from thrift shops in that the clothes are carefully screened before being hung on the rack, and they are still owned by the consignor until they are sold.

Anything with a puka, broken zipper or missing button is rejected. Clothes must be clean or dry cleaned, ironed and on hangers when they are brought in.

The clothes that arrive in these shops are usually new or almost new. They often have the tags still on them. They're the dress that someone purchased thinking she would lose weight and fit into it. Or the coat bought on the Mainland, worn once and never again.

The owners/managers take pride in personal service and often keep "wish lists" for customers, following up with a phone call when that special item comes in.

On the business side of things, Judy Joseph, who with her daughter Susan Sanger owns Pzazz! in Kaimuki, said there's only a small profit margin, but the store has been self-supporting since Day One. She enjoys the business because there's a lot of satisfaction in the personalized customer service they can offer.

Several owners mentioned they are hoping more women sizes 12 and up will start consigning their clothes. They have a demand for these sizes, but little supply.

Honolulu's consignment stores are all owned and/or run by women. They tend to reflect the owners' taste, so each has a slightly different tone and different merchandise.

Gladys Higa, who has worked at most of O'ahu's consignment stores, characterized them this way: "Pzazz! is middle-of-the-road, for the working girl. Consignment Corner caters to Asians and gets lots of Japanese and Koreans.æComme Ci Comme Ca goes from funky to junk. And Consignment Manoa has a younger, trendier clientele and lower-priced clothes."

Paula Rath writes about Island fashion. She can be reached at 525-5464.

A guide to O'ahu's consignment shops

Owner: Kimberleigh Colt
Phone: 236-0888
Address: 45-1151 Kamehameha Highway, Kane'ohe, one block before Windward Mall
Appointments: Requested but not required
Square footage: 900
Percentage of sales price to consignor/shop: 80/20 for fine jewelry; all else 50/50
Sizes: 0-24
Expect to find: Retro looks (but no vintage), Hanae Mori, Rolex watches, Ming's jewelry. Designers include Chanel, St. John, Celine, Versace and Prada
What they won't take: Jeans and vintage clothing
Preferable seasons for anything? Coats are turned down until fall
Profile of consignor: 60 percent are ages 35 to 65
Profile of customer: Younger than she expected when she opened last August
Biggest sellers: Ming's jewelry, Chanel and Louis Vuitton
Owner: Sweetie Moffatt
Phone: 734-8869
Address: 3464 Wai'alae Ave.
Appointments: Summer hours are Wed. -Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Square footage: 300
Percentage to consignor/shop: 50/50
Sizes: 2-14
Expect to find: An eclectic collec-tion of clothing and accessories; lots of vintage
What they won't take: Undergarments, play clothes
Preferable seasons for anything? No. Many items from Australia and South America, where the seasons are opposite from ours Profile of consignor: From students to wealthy matrons
Profile of customer: "All kinds"
Biggest sellers: Designer hand bags by Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada
Owner: Rose Lee
Phone: 739-0888
Address: 4218 Wai'alae Ave., Suite A104, across from Kahala Mall
Appointments: Required
Square footage: 500
Percentage to consignor/shop: 50/50
Sizes: 2-26
Expect to find: Usually more than 100 designer handbags from Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton; fine jewelry like Cartier and Rolex; clothing by Escada, Gucci and a whole rack of St. John (in small sizes)
What they won't take: Lingerie, bathing suits
Preferable seasons for anything? No
Profile of consignor: Women who live in Kahala, Hawai'i Loa Ridge and Wai'alae
Profile of customer: Women ages 30 to 40; Japanese and South Korean visitors
Biggest sellers: Louis Vuitton and Chanel handbags that sell for one-third of retail
Manager: Audrey Farias
Phone: 737-2002
Address: 1113 B Kapahulu Ave. (pink building). Drive down Harding; it's between 1st and Kapahulu)
Appointments: Required
Square footage: 600
Percentage to consignor/shop: 40/60
Sizes: 2-18
Expect to find: Casual and career wear, jeans, aloha shirts, T-shirts
What they won't take: Lingerie and swimsuits without tags attached
Preferable seasons for anything? No prom dresses in summer. Coats and ski clothes in fall and winter only
Profile of consignor: All ages, from Gap employees who consign work clothes, to seniors who bring in vintage bags
Profile of customer: Hipsters and people who work in offices and want to be seen in different clothes
Biggest sellers: Vintage bags; preppy looks
Owner: Lois Slayter
Address: 98-025 Hekaha Bldg., 4-3
Phone: 488-8110
Appointments: Required, usually a week in advance
Square footage: 800
Percentage to consignor/shop: 40/60
Sizes: 0-3X
Expect to find: A broad range of designers from Carol Little and Ann Taylor to Armani and Versace; Ferragamo and Bally shoes to size 12; western boots
What they won't take: Culottes, jeans, casual play clothes, cocktail-length evening dresses
Are there preferable seasons for anything? No
Profile of consignor: From 18-year-olds consigning their prom dresses to seniors bringing in vintage handbags
Profile of customer: Ages 25 — seniors; lots of military, especially for evening gowns
Biggest sellers: Designer bags, shoes, evening wear
Owner: Kyong Johnson
Phone: 528-0116
Address: 1118 Pensacola St., near Auntie Pasto's
Appointments: Highly recommended
Square footage: 300
Percentage to consignor/shop: 50/50
Sizes: 0-12
Expect to find: High-end European designer clothing and shoes, estate jewelry. Some items lack price tags, so you have to feel OK about bargaining.
What they won't take: Anything that isn't upscale and European
Preferable seasons for anything? No
Profile of consignor: Bankers, real estate people, lawyers
Profile of customer: "Anyone who walks in"
Lots of Asian nationals shop here; English and Korean are spoken.
Biggest sellers: St. John Knits
Owners : Judy Joseph and Susan Sanger
Phone: 732-5900
Address: 3057 Wai'alae Ave., makai side, look for the Le Bon Pain Bakery sign and turn in
Appointments: Not necessary
Square footage: 1700 (up from 600 at their former Kalakaua Avenue shop)
Percentage to consignor/shop: 40/60
Sizes: 2-22
Expect to find: Broad range from Gap to Gucci, fashion-forward business wear
What they won't take: Swimsuits without the tags
Preferable seasons for anything? No
Profile of consignor: Career women ages 30 to 55
Profile of customer: Women who love clothes, appreciate value and would rather pay $300 for a gently worn Armani suit than $300 for a new Ann Taylor suit
Biggest sellers: Banana Republic, bebe, Ann Taylor, Armani, St. John. Also furs, trench coats and leather jackets
Owner: Kelsey Sears
Phone: 591-8388
Address: Ward Centre, 'ewa end
Appointments: Advisable for first-time consignors
Square footage: 1500
Percentage to consignor/shop: 40/60
Sizes: 0-14
Expect to find: Current fashion from The Gap to couture from all over the world. Some vintage, furs and fine jewelry
What they won't take: Bridal gowns, swimsuits without tags, shoes that are not high-end designers and in pristine condition
Preferable seasons for anything? Hold evening gowns until November
Profile of consignor: "Moneyed people who have a sense of style and adventure"
Profile of customer: "Women who are emotionally secure and have a sense of style"
Biggest sellers: Chanel, St. John, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Ferragamo, Tommy Bahama, JamsWorld