Women’s consignment shop feeds North County’s “microeconomy”
By Laura E Zolnoski
It’s a crisp and sunny January morning in downtown Templeton. Partners Monica Firchow and Tamara Stavrianoudakis arrive at their shop and get right to work – chatting about new inventory and Tamara’s stylish jacket (which she picked up from the shop), and wheeling racks of clothing out onto their covered patio.
Upscale Resale smells lightly of vanilla. The walls are lined with perfectly organized designer jeans, handbags, and shoes. The cylindrical racks in the center of the floor boast tops, dresses, and other accessories – all “previously enjoyed,” yet in perfect, nearly-new condition.
Monica and Tamara opened Upscale Resale three years ago. The idea for the business came about when the two stay-at-home moms joked about how their husbands wanted them to get jobs…and in no time, they had formulated a business plan! Within three weeks, they had rented a space, refined their plan of action, and emailed their extensive network of friends and acquaintances to share the news. The store soon became busy, and today business is thriving.
The majority of the coats, dresses, shoes, tops, handbags, and accessories found at Upscale Resale are obtained through consignment. They have had over 1,000 consignment clients from all over the state. “Gals who love to shop new bring in their items, and then women with lower spending habits can purchase the same luxury-brand product for 65-80% less than retail. This stimulates the shopping habit on all levels, while at the same time keeping the money local,” says Monica. “We have paid over $200,000 in consignment payouts since we started our business.”
Tamara and Monica place a strong emphasis on quality, and this business plan has truly paid off for the team. The idea behind Upscale Resale is unique in the North County. Tamara and Monica have a strict consignment policy and only take items that originally retailed for $60 or more ($75 or more for shoes and jeans), from stores that are out of the area, such as Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, and other upscale boutiques. In other words, items found at Upscale Resale are hard to find elsewhere on the Central Coast.
“What sets us apart from other shops is this: We offer clothing for women only, and the clothes that we carry are from the best designers. With that narrow criterion, we obtain a diverse selection of top-quality items, of all sizes. Time after time, we have Grandma, Mom, and Daughter all shopping together, each finding clothing items that suit their taste,” says Tamara.
Monica and Tamara pride themselves on providing old-fashioned customer service. Along with their two part-time staff members, they love to be in the shop, love to help women pick out outfits, and of course will help with the always necessary zip-up or honest opinion. They offer coffee in the mornings, a friendly greeting at all times, and a knack for making women feel good about themselves.
Perhaps the true beauty of this wonderful shop comes from how often and in how many ways they give back to the local community. “We have a symbiotic relationship with the community,” says Tamara, “and we are able to support North County women (and our local ‘microeconomy’) at all levels.” Local women receive a consignment check for their gently enjoyed items, local women buy luxury items for less, and items that don’t sell after 90 days are donated to local women in need through the Templeton-based Kinship Center, as well as Hospice and the North County Women’s Shelter.
While the majority of the items in Upscale Resale are obtained through consignment, the ladies also carry Spanx and two local brands: Vine Street Clothing and Gather Jewels. Vine Street Clothing is designed locally and manufactured in Nipomo (another business that supports our “microeconomy!”). Gather Jewels is a jewelry line locally-owned by Kiera Emmons. Kiera works with women in developing countries around the world to create her beautiful jewelry, and the profits are shared with those women. Gather Jewelry is the exclusive jewelry of Upscale Resale, and Kiera, Monica, and Tamara love that they are able to improve living conditions for women worldwide as well as locally.
There is a lot to love about being a small business owner, and both Monica and Tamara appreciate the good fortune they have found. Tamara says, “Meeting people and forming new networking connections has been wonderful, and I truly value that we are showing our kids how to be entrepreneurs.” “I love the conversations that I have with women that come in,” says Monica, “and of course…I love buying clothes!”
Tamara and Monica also love the prime location of Upscale Resale: “From Saturday Farmer’s Market, to Central Coast Pharmacy Specialists next door, to out-of-town visitors who pulled off the Highway to see what Templeton is all about, we are always seeing new faces,” says Monica.
“We see ourselves here for a very long time,” says Monica, “Running our shop is something we love to do; it allows us to connect with our community, give back, and most importantly, have a career and still put family first.”
Upscale Resale is located at 590 Main Street. They can be reached by phone at (805) 434-9898 or online at upscaleresaleconsignment.com.