St. John’s has no shortage of used clothing stores, but a Nebraska woman wanted something more than what you’d find in a basement bargain bin.
“I saw there was something missing here,” Karin Smith said.
She was looking for a place to buy high-end, high-quality clothes and accessories.
“There was nothing like it in St. John’s,” she said.
So, after spending 10 years as a stay-at-home mother, and anxious to get back into the workplace, Smith decided to open one of her own.
Fifteen months ago, Karin Smith’s Found Consignment Boutique opened its doors for the first time.
Located at 1 Waterford Bridge Rd. at Water Street west, the store is aimed at “fashion-minded women” and sells gently used, modern (less than three years old), high-end items.
From clothing and purses to shoes, boots and scarves, the boutique carries a wide range of designer and luxury products, with such brand names as Coach, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Chanel, Gucci and Louis Vuitton.
The idea is for people to bring in their designer items, and when they’re sold, the person who brought them in collects 40 per cent of the final sale price.
“A lot of people have (high-end) things in their closet and are looking for a place to sell them. It’s too good to throw out or just give away,” Smith said.
“This is a good option for them.”
Smith decided to move to St. John’s from Omaha, Neb., about five years ago with her Newfoundland-born husband, Andrew Smith, and their daughter, now 12.
“Newfoundlanders always come home,” she said laughing.
“But we’re staying put. We love it here.”
Smith — whose background is in journalism and public relations — had worked for a consignment business before becoming a stay-at-home mother.
She’s excited about owning her own store.
“There are consignment businesses all over Canada and the United States,” she said. “They’re quite common all over North America.”
While there is a children’s consignment store in St. John’s, Smith’s is the only one just for women.
She got the ball rolling by collecting items from family and friends, starting with 15 consigners.
Today, she has close to 700 across the province.
“It’s been phenomenal,” she said. “It’s really taken off. Word of mouth in this town is huge.
“People really seemed to get it and understand the concept.”
All consigns are done by appointment, during which Smith inspects the items.
She’s is very selective about what she accepts for the store.
She’s also particularly careful in ensuring the brand-name items are authentic.
“I’m a stickler for authenticity,” said Smith, who has been trained and provides authenticity consulting services.
“If I have the slightest doubt, I don’t accept it.
“Having and selling counterfeit goods is illegal. It’s a risk to my business, supports organized crime and it’s not healthy for the economy.
“If I see anyone with counterfeit products, I just tell them to just think of a small child in a developing country (forced to make the product) and you’ll think twice.”
Found Consignment Boutique has an active Facebook page, on which Smith posts products daily.
“If I get excited about something that was just brought in, I post it,” she said. “People can just call me and it’s yours.”
Information can also be found on the store’s website — www.foundconsign.com.