As a handful of employees raced about earlier this month to set up for the next day’s opening of Doubletake Consignment Boutique in Red Bank, owner Marci Kessler appeared the embodiment of calm.
The racks were nearly bare of the high-end clothing and accessories expected to fill the store, located on Broad Street next door to Pizza Fusion. But Kessler, eating a salad at the cash register, was unflustered, and confident the shop would be fully stocked for its first customers.
“We’ve been doing it for 18 years,” she told redbankgreen.
That’s how long her original consignment shop, in Short Hills, has been around. In recent months, though, Kessler has amped-up her business, opening new stores in Englewood and Ridgewood, giving her fresh tastes of pressing deadlines. Red Bank is now the fourth in the chain.
Why the rapid expansion, and why now, in the midst of a recession no one can see the end to?
“We found really great locations where the rents have come down because of the recession,” Kessler says. “And my business is recession-proof.”
Like other stores in the burgeoning consignment business, Doubletake sells apparel, shoes and handbags on behalf of customers with closetsful of luxe-labeled goods. Among its favored brands are Balenciaga, Hermes, Marc Jacobs and Yves Saint Laurent.
Consignment provides a way for women to clear out closet space while bringing in cash, Kessler says; buyers get well-tended goods that have been carefully selected at less-than-wholesale prices.
But if the business is recession proof, is it also immune to competition? Kessler was surprised to learn that there’s another luxury consignment shop, U Gallery, planning to open next month just across the street and up half a block on Broad.
“It sounds very interesting,” she said with a raised eyebrow, when told about that store’s roots in the healthcare industry as a provider of therapy and vocational training to brain-injured clients. But based on her own track record, she wasn’t worried, she said.
“We know how to run our business,” she said.