If your image of a consignment shop is a dirty thrift store with dead people’s clothes, it’s time to reevaluate.
Throw away those college memories of rummaging at Good Will for flannels and faded jeans. It’s time to move on, and up, to the consignment boutique, where people with means and good taste will sell you their fashionable clothes at obscenely low prices.
Follow me to The Farmhouse on Broadway in West Long Branch and I’ll give you the dish.
Meet Ann Marie Elia, owner of the clean and bright shop and she’ll tell you how the business of second hand clothes as changed since you were in your grunge phase.
“I’ve been in this business 20 years and it’s totally different now. People used to be embarrassed. I’ve seen a total 180,”she said.
The Farmhouse is now thriving in it’s Broadway location where it has been for those 20 years, so much so, that Elia launched a second location in Fair Haven in September and an online business, allthingsconsignment.com.
No one was embarrassed when I visited on the Thursday before Memorial Day as ladies perused the old graceful farmhouse with wild pink trim, which houses Elia’s business.
Ladies browsed racks of carefully hung blouses and shelves of strappy sandals and pretty flats from department store brands and upscale designers. If it weren’t for the price tags ($11 for a ruffled Ann Taylor tee, Marc Jacobs sling backs, $45) you would think they were shopping retail.
But it wasn’t the shoes or the pretty handbags displayed on the marble mantle that got me. Not even the 4-inch black sequined Tahari pumps, that I swear tried to jump in my purse.
It was the nautical ¾-length sleeved coat by Juicy Couture that called my name. Just my size and in my favorite shade of navy, with a price that is a steal for a coat from this designer, and in perfect condition, no less.
How did it get here? No idea. What I do know is that if it were going for its estimated value of $300, I would never have even tried it on, which is exactly the market Elia is going for.
“I started this business because I couldn’t afford high-end merchandise and I figured other people had the same problem,” she said.
And at the Farmhouse you will find just about everything. One room is devoted to tops, casual and dressy. Another room offers shoes, handbags, jackets and swimwear. There are beautiful glass knobs and girly light fixtures; you can even buy the art off the walls.
There is a back room with a $5 rack, but that’s not where you’re going to find the good stuff. Like the J Crew dress I found, new with tags, (and pockets! How did she know?). With the 20-percent-off sale earlier this spring, I took home this dress that retails for a cool $89, for a hot deal of $14 and change.
To keep at bay that “last season” feeling that some shops have, Elia requires that consigners’ items be no more than two years old and in perfect condition. Clothing also has to be seasonal and authentic. No Prado here. Elia splits the sales with consigners 50/50.
The dresses, like my J Crew number, are one of the strengths of this boutique with both high and low-end brands, from casual sundresses to prom and evening ware.
I found the jeans selection to be slim, but the shop makes up for it with great accessories, pretty (if not sometimes pricey) new jewelry for both day and evening. The just added $10 wall of jewelry, filled with trendy collections of everyday necklaces, bracelets and earrings takes the edge off the other price tags.
Perhaps unique to Elia’s business model is the way she cultivates customers for all three of her ventures, with private girls’ night out parties (link) and promotions like the upcoming event with Mrs. Red Bank. Pageant winner DonnaLyn Geigerich, will be the guest speaker at a Farmhouse on Broadway party on June 5 at 1 pm. She’ll talk about how to dress yourself to appear 10lbs thinner. The 25 guests in attendance will get a goody bag with discounts too. Last year Elia ran a similar party, How to Dress For the Event, which sold out. As of Wednesday, there were only 12 spots left. To reserve your spot, call (732) 263-1124.
The Farmhouse on Broadway, 952 Broadway, West Long Branch, is open Mon. – Sat. 10 am - 5 pm.