Originally started in a closet in the back of a store, Lisa Nardone has quickly grown Chic Consignment into one of Andover -- and Boston’s -- biggest consignments stores. They offer a wide range of clothing and accessories, including men’s and children’s clothing. We spoke to Nardone to learn more about how it started, its merchandise, and its future.
Can you tell me a little about the history behind Chic Consignment?
I used to have a baby’s and teen’s store. I made a trip to the south I saw all kinds of fun fabulous consignment stores, but I’ve never shopped consignment in my life. I thought maybe I should give it a shot, so I actually opened in my back closet of my store in April of 2009. Within a couple of weeks I brought it to the surface and it just took off.
I have a background as a buyer so I can utilize my retail and make it what it is. If I’m going to do it I’m going to do it in a nice way. We now have a whole wall of handbags and a huge display. We can make it boutique-y, which is what I envisioned. We’ve been in this space 3 ½ years and now have over 3000 consigners from everywhere.
Photo courtesy of Chic Consignment’s Facebook page
How did you get consigners to ship to you? How did you expand?
We rely on word of mouth and utilizing social media. We had someone from the Boston Globe come up here as a secret shopper and they wrote us a great article which opened up information and knowledge that we were here to the whole Boston area. We also had customers from my old store. My son was in Arizona so we had contacts there, and then people who have second homes [in] California will send items to us because they trust us. We have a huge base of trust, and that’s a huge thing. We take it seriously; I take it personally if we make a mistake.
Does merchandise differ based on location?
It definitely differs, but what sells is the same. I’m hoping to work with some local people and maybe we can do buyouts with merchandise that doesn’t do well here, because there are areas that are traditional and my store is more fashion conscious.
How do you go about the curation process for Chic Consignment?
I just have to be honest with people and say we have been open five years, so we know what sells and what doesn’t. A lot of the times you can look at a store and they mimic and reflect the style of the owner but I have to go on knowledge instead of personal taste. We also have three or four girls and I ask them ‘what do you think?’ so we can cater to different styles and different tastes. I do have to tailor it to the worldwide customer.
How do you handle merchandise that you don’t think will do well in your store?
The best thing that we’ve done is give people options of other consignment stores, instead of people being discouraged by a ‘no’. That’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. The other stores are thankful to me and that’s helped with business.
What are some of the most exciting items you’ve gotten in and the history behind them?
I love the history stuff to be honest with you. People will come in and say “this belonged to the wife of the manager of the old Ritz Carlton in Boston.” We consigned all of these really cool vintage coats from her. It’s always a challenge to find a way to relay that to the customer. It’s exciting and fun… but it’s also nerve-wracking. The fact that people trust us with it, and trust us to sell it, is exciting for me
What kind of feel does the atmosphere of Chic Consignment have?
We’ve had several people come in before not realizing that its consignment even though we have a 16 foot sign that says consignment- you can’t miss it. Because of the way we set it up, it looks like a boutique. Because of the way I ask my girls to relay customer service, it looks like a boutique. We have a great display and we change it often. We put outfits together. That means a lot to me; whether or not the time we spend on it makes sense, that’s a reflection of me. It’s a beautiful shopping experience.
Are there any items that sell better in comparison to others?
Second to none is Louis Vuitton- you whisper that it’s coming in and it’s gone. You instagram it and its gone. Chanel is good but it takes longer to sell. Jimmy Choo, Louboutin, Tory Burch, Burberry. Prada does okay. Yurman and Tiffany do well. It’s all about the classics and the names that you know have good quality.
Photo courtesy of Chic Consignment’s Facebook page.
How has your business grown since its opening?
It’s time consuming, but the makeup of it and business of consignment is the way of the future. Minimizing. Recycling. People are really thinking about not buying as much, and recycling. A lot of stores in Andover have gone out of business, but the people do love it here. We have become an icon. We kept main street open and revised it. We expanded when everyone was closing.
Where would you like to see Chic Consignment going?
I want to see it expand and I think it would do extremely well, but I don’t have the time and energy to do it on my own. If I could find someone to train to do that, I would do it right away so I’m hoping somebody steps up. I want to focus more on social media, selling online, perfecting it, get higher in, and really just keep getting our name out there.