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Industry + Insights / January 23, 2015 / Sarah Guan
Michael's, The Consignment Shop for Women
When a consignment store has been operating for 60 years you know you are in good hands. And if the owners have been in the consignment industry for a century, you know that you are at an elite one. Michael Kosof founded Michael’s, The Consignment Shop for Women in 1954 and it continues today as a family-owned store. We spoke with Tammy Fluhr-Gates, the granddaughter of founder Michael Kosof, and discussed Michael’s history, curation, and the best part of running a fashion business. You have such a deep history in the consignment world.  Your great-grandfather essentially began what is now Michael's and passed on his legacy.  When did you know that you wanted to be a part of the business? My grandfather started Michael’s. My great grandfather started the Ritz Fur Shop on 57th street (a NYC institution and also consignment) and my great-great grandfather had a consignment shop on the lower east side. The Michael’s team, and my family, has more consignment experience and know-how than anyone anywhere. Truth be told, I never expected or wanted to join the business. But after a stint out west in California, the entrepreneurial spirit that runs through my family beckoned me back east to join the business in 2006. 22217

Left: Laura Fluhr, Right: Tammy Fluhr-Gates. Photo taken by Ashley Urban for the International Design Times.

As we know, the concept of consignment has been around since the 1800's, and it has gone through a number of stages. What do you see in Michael's future, will it be men's clothes, more stores, etc.?  The Michael’s family has been a part of the consignment world since the early 1900’s so we’ve participated in the full life span of consignment.  As far as our future goes, the sky's the limit.  Michael’s has been around since 1954 and one of the ways we’ve been so successful is by staying nimble.  We’re watching the industry and market trends and will, as always, with the help of our specialized business, fashion and marketing teams, make the appropriate growth decisions. 2015 promises to be a big year for Michael’s.  Just stay tuned. What is the curation process like for you? The curation process is fun!  We have the most amazing merchandise from the best consignors.  People ship to us from Milan, China, Brazil and more.  Not to mention that NYC is the fashion capital of the world so we have plenty of amazing merchandise that comes to us from consignors that live in our back yard.  For us, being able to pick and choose what we put online and what we take in to sell at our brick and mortar store is a privilege and totally fun!  Michael's Consignment

Photos courtesy of Michael’s, The Consignment Shop for Women’s Facebook page.

What do you love most about being a business owner and most importantly a business that is centered on fashion?  I love that this business is a win, win, win.  There are very few business models when everyone involved feels they are getting something great -- consignment is one of them.  I love that I am able to make consignors happy by getting them money for items they no longer need, I love that I am able to make customers happy by selling them items they love at a lower price than retail and, frankly, I love that I can do this and earn a living at the same time. The fact that I’m working with gorgeous clothing and accessories is a bonus!  I feel fortunate to work in fashion, as it is dynamic, creative, evolutionary and expressive.  I get to work in a field that allows people to express themselves and to feel and look great at the same time. Any final thoughts? What the Kosofsky/Kosof /Kaye family has known for more than a century, the rest of the world is finally tapping into [is that] consignment is the perfect business model, a green/recycling way of life, offering benefits to all members of the equation.  It is just plain smart!!! It’s an exciting time for the consignment world right now.  

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Photo courtesy of Michael’s, The Consignment Shop for Women’s Facebook page.

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