On a sunny fall afternoon, Terin Fischer pulled her empty granny cart down the north side of 18th street and into her store. Business was on the rise for Fischer, a high-end consignment shop owner. Her store had been so packed in the morning that she opted to run the necessary errands herself, a luxury problem in a business all about luxury.
“I’m on my way back from dropping off clothes at my tailor,” she said. “If a sweater is missing a button then I’ll have it repaired and then sell it for them. A lot of people won’t do that.”
Fischer, 47, owns Fisch for the Hip, a consignment store in Chelsea that, like others in the city, has seen holiday shopping boom. With unemployment hovering above 10 percent as gift-buying season begins, not every shopper balks at buying used designer clothing, bags and accessories as gifts for others.
“I think the recession has changed people’s shopping,” said Seena Stromberg, dodging one of Fischer’s two King Charles Cavaliers. Stromberg, 52, is a sales associate who has worked in the store for over a decade. “The mindset is, ‘I got you a Hermes bracelet but I got it at Fisch for the Hip’ and no one cares if it’s consignment.”
“We’re the Hermes gods here,” added Katie Taylor, 24, another member of the sales staff.
Consignment involves handing over goods to be sold by someone else. That party, the consignee, then takes a percentage of the profits once the sale goes through.
Milo Bernstein co-owns INA Designer Consignment and has seen a steady increase in his business over the years.
“We’d like it for people to buy more gifts,” he said. “But we’re certainly selling more accessories as gifts over the holidays.” Bernstein, 38, runs the company’s five Manhattan locations.
The National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops (NARTS) estimates that the resale industry will see increased holiday sales this year. This prediction, based upon steadily increasing sales over the past year, is bolstered by the fact that 67% of NARTS members reported increased holiday sales last year.
Not all high-end consignment shops in the city have seen an increase, however. Up at Michael’s on Madison Avenue, manager Rosie Velez said that business had actually slowed down. There, it seemed, a traditional hesitancy prevailed.
“For us during the holiday time things have slowed down,” Velez, 30, said. “Most people don’t tend to shop for others in consignment stores. Our stuff is used.”