Clothes shopping is expensive. It can be even more so when the teen in your life lusts after designer and brand-name fashions, some of which can come with triple-digit price tags.
And what parent wants to pay those kinds of prices, especially if their child is still growing?
That's partly what the owners of My Sisters Wardrobe had in mind when they opened a clothing consignment shop, one that offers brands such as Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch, last winter in downtown Mystic.
At My Sisters Wardrobe, owned by England natives Sophie Columber and Faye Davidson, the siblings, and moms, know well that parents are hesitant to pay top dollar for their teen's clothing when their kids' tastes change as quickly as their sizes. But their store gives teens and their parents an alternative to high-end prices, and both the opportunity to make a little money from clothes they no longer wear."When you want to be trendy, it gets expensive. This is affordable," Columber says.
The store, she adds, also fills what they believe is a void in downtown Mystic for youth apparel.
"Around here, we have stores for older women and stores for kids, but nothing for in between," says Columber.
Walking through the pink door of the Mystic boutique is akin to stepping into the quintessential girl's bedroom.
In one corner a daybed, sans mattress, displays a myriad of designer jeans - True Religion, Seven, Bebe, Diesel. The normally $300 jeans were priced at $50. A glass case is home to a Fendi purse and a single pair of black Manolo Blahniks.
Clothes are arranged by type throughout the store - skirts, shirts, jeans and jackets - and grouped on racks by brand.
A rack of couture dresses, one by designer Faviana, lines the rear wall, where a portable stereo blasts a Jon Bon Jovi CD. A park bench, spray painted a soft pink, is covered with the latest magazines. It's steps away from a fitting room, complete with an oversized pink high heel shoe chair, perfect for lounging while a friend or daughter tries on clothes.
"We just wanted a fun place for young people to shop, where they don't think of the items as used," explains Davidson.
Columber and Davidson accept clothing on consignment for 90 days. If the item sells, the consigner receives a check around the first of the following month. If it doesn't sell, the consigner has seven days to pick up their merchandise. After that, the items are donated to a charity of the store's choice, and the consigner receives the tax deduction benefit.
The owners take 50 percent of the sale of consigned clothes.
Davidson says while some consignment stores take a larger percentage of consigned sales, she and her sister decided not to do that because they wanted to encourage a higher quality of consigned items.
Less than a year after opening, My Sisters Wardrobe, a reference to the English word "closet," has nearly 200 consigners. The sisters started their collection with items from each other's closets, along with two other sisters, Connie and Ivy Davidson.
"I still send boxes of clothes from England," says Ivy, who was visiting her sisters last month. "I also consign with them."
While some people can be turned off by the concept of wearing someone else's clothes, My Sisters Wardrobe has enough easy-going glam about it to dispel such considerations.
Headless wire mannequins are draped with sparkling, beaded necklaces. Intricately designed bracelets and earrings, made by local artisans, are elegantly displayed on a circular table.
The store is outfitted like a true boutique, with bits of glitz here and there. The sisters say their business outlook is pretty much summed up by the song that plays on their store's website: Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun."
MY SISTERS WARDROBE
12 Steamboat Wharf, Mystic
10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday
11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday
11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday; closed Tuesdays