by Jesma Reynolds
photographs by Tim Lytveninko
Raleighites have options when it comes to clothing consignment shops. These houses of style feature previously owned, often near-mint-quality clothing and accessories at a fraction of their original prices, appealing to those with budget-minded sensibilities and fashion prowess. Walter went on the hunt to learn more about the owners behind our local shops, and what they’ve got in store.
Pam Mullaney has always loved fashion. But she didn’t get into the business of fashion until her nanny moved, forcing Mullaney to leave a 17-year career in sales and marketing to stay at home with her three children. She began selling clothes to friends, on eBay, and by word-of-mouth before opening a small store in the Carter Building on Glenwood Avenue. Her part-time business soon became a full-time endeavor.
The success led in 2011 to dress at Ridgewood Shopping Center, which sells new clothing, pre-owned designer clothing, and over-stocked items from boutiques. The new lines – which include basics like tees, jeans, and local jewelry by Sweetie Pie – never top $100.
Mullaney says her shoppers like popular brands such as Tory Burch, Diane von Furstenberg, Rag and Bone, and Vince. She also offers hard-to-find labels like Balenciaga, Herve Leger, Badgley Mishka, and Oscar de la Renta.
She won’t disclose her sources for such luxury brands, other than to say that she has celebrity clients who ship her their closet treasures and a network of well-heeled clients and boutiques around the country who keep her stock fresh.
Through this couture conduit Mullaney has created “dress Luxe,” a line of high-end designer labels, all unworn, with store tags still attached. Mullaney donates a percentage of these sales to Ma Cares, a Greensboro-based nonprofit whose mission is to meet critical needs in local communities.
Mullaney and her team use social media, posting frequently each day to Instagram and Facebook, to showcase the latest arrivals. Items often sell before they make it on the floor, she says.
dress: 3528 Wade Avenue, Raleigh. (919) 699-6505. dressraleigh.com.
One of Raleigh’s oldest consignment shops is Villa Consegna on Fairview Road at Five Points. Owner John Pridgen and his wife Judy, now deceased, started the business in 1993 after the former civil engineer was encouraged by his cardiologist to find a less stressful career.
He says it was his wife’s idea to start a consignment business. An art appraiser, she had an eye for design and detail. To name their new venture, the couple called the language department at N.C. State to learn the Italian phrase for “house of consignment.”
Early on, the Pridgens were able to get some remarkable pieces to sell after discovering a box full of client addresses from a recently closed fine ladies store. Pridgen wrote notes to each client from the file, and as a result, built up a bevvy of long distance consigners from far-flung places like Denver and Tucson.
Soon the Pridgens were receiving boxes laden with Chanel suits and Hermes scarves that had been purchased from high-end retailers like Neiman Marcus. “Getting labels like that was unique,” he says. Along with these prestige brands, Pridgen today sells fashion-forward designers like Tory Burch and Theory, as well as less familiar ones like Anne Fontaine. He says he has a group of shoppers who snap up the designer’s white shirts as soon as they come in.
“People tell me I have a good eye. I also have a good color eye.” The black and white striped walls and eye-catching collection of old hat boxes arranged atop shelves give the shop a decidedly old world, salon-style feel. He says shoppers often ask his opinion about a piece when trying it on. He says he knows his customers and their preferences well, and “I only take pieces that I think are good looking.”
Villa Consegna: 2003 Fairview Road, Raleigh. (919) 828-3737. villaconsegna.com.
NORA AND NICKY’S
Nora and Nicky’s owner Cathy Brooks spent five years in the Navy before staying home to raise her three sons. Once they were teenagers, she began to think about a second career and was inspired by an ad for a consignment shop to research the business. Brooks had always enjoyed the hunt of antiquing and saw a connection in the world of consignment. She decided to try her hand.
For Brooks, opening her first shop in North Raleigh in 2011 was a way to offer good deals on good quality – her motto is “looking great doesn’t have to be expensive” – and as a way to practice green living through the recycling of good clothing.
She and her husband Darwin chose the name for the business from the main characters in the 1930s The Thin Man series. Nora and Nick were married sleuths known for their clever banter, and just like the series, Brooks says the emphasis at Nora and Nicky’s is on classics. Popular labels include Louis Vuitton, Tory Burch, and Trina Turk. Shoes, handbags and accessories are also available.
Today Brooks has two locations – one in North Raleigh at Falls Village and a larger, newer store downtown on West Hargett Street. “I really wanted to be part of downtown,” she says. It’s been a welcoming spot, she says, with neighboring businesses offering support. Brooks’ husband and sons are involved “behind the scenes,” doing things like making and passing out flyers downtown to get the word out.
With signature lime green floors, the stores are fresh and uncluttered. Clients are all ages, particularly downtown, Brooks says, as many shoppers pop in on their lunch break or after work. She and her team maintain a blog to connect to her customers. She also sells clothing directly from the store’s website.
Nora and Nicky’s: 19-104 W. Hargett Street, Raleigh. (919) 856-4244
6325-49 Falls of Neuse Road, Raleigh. (919) 876-1181. noraandnickys.com.
At Revolver on Glenwood Avenue, the vibe is downtown-edgy. To reach the shop requires facing a heart-pumping set of stairs and an enthusiastic greeting from owner Liz Johnson’s pooch, Rigsby.
He’s been with her since Johnson opened in 2005 and is at home in the series of rooms devoted to accessories, shoes, and clothing. Those in the know have been shopping the store’s $50 designer jeans rack since its inception. There are also popular designer labels for both women and men – Revolver is one of the few consignment shops in the area that stocks items for men. There are dress shirts by Thomas Pink and Brooks Brothers, Italian wool suits, sport coats, designer jeans, and all kinds of accessories. One long wall houses an extensive selection of cowboy boots that exude cool.
For women, there are shoes, handbags, clothing – including vintage finds – and a good selection of local jewelry and accessory designers. One rack in the center of the store features high-end designer labels. On a recent visit, there was a Dolce and Gabbana leather bomber jacket with leopard lining for 75 percent off retail. Revolver’s vintage selection is quirky and fun. There are kitschy options, like a primary-colored red, green and blue apple-print pant suit, but others, like a well-made wool shift, are timeless and could easily be incorporated into the most conservative wardrobe.
Johnson says her clients are all ages – mothers accompany their daughters to shop, and both end up with purchases, she says. More recently, Johnson has started pop-up shops on the weekends in her ground-level space, featuring local artists and designers.
“I would like to continue to collaborate with other local merchants,” she says. She and her staff post on Facebook and Instagram several times a day to keep their customers in the loop about arrivals and upcoming events.
Revolver: 124 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh. (919)834-3053. revolverboutique.com.
HOUSE OF LANDOR
Mary Beth Paulson is a recent entry in the resale market with her House of Landor, a seller of designer vintage clothing. Her mantra is “vintage styled modern,” which is a way Paulson has dressed personally for the past 25 years.
She says she began buying vintage because she “wanted to wear something that no one else had.”
That desire, along with an appreciation for the fine workmanship in designer vintage garments, now compels her to scour the country for statement gowns, dresses, and unique separates. The result is a highly curated collection by notable designers like Bill Blass, Victor Costa, Malcolm Starr, and Pat Sandler. Ranging from $50 to $325, the average price tag for a dress is about $175, and most are pre-1984. Not afraid to rework a vintage find, Paulson often tweaks a garment by adjusting the sleeve length or hemline, or opening up the back to make it more contemporary. Many of the pieces she sells can fit a wide size range – typically zero to eight – with a few minor adjustments.
Paulson’s discerning eye recently caught that of designer Trina Turk, who shopped at House of Landor on a recent visit to Raleigh. After making a purchase, Turk posted it on Instagram, giving Paulson’s business instant credibility in the wider world of vintage, as well as a growing client list. “Since I’ve been doing this, I’ve had a lot of luck,” Paulson says. “My goal is to have fun, make a little money, and get people to wear vintage.” She also buys vintage from her clients, encouraging them to sell back garments after they’ve worn them if they aren’t attached to them. “That’s the beauty of vintage,” she says.
House of Landor clothing is available at Finds, a local vintage furniture shop on Progress Court, and online via Instagram, Facebook and Etsy.
House of Landor: 2009 Progress Court, Raleigh. (919)605-0982. Etsy.com/shop/HouseOfLandor.