This week’s Meet a Mom is Ellen Atkinson from Consigned Designs, a luxury consignment shop that’s a bit of a hidden gem in downtown Greenwich! Located at 115 Mason Street, Consigned Designs has two gorgeous adjacent spaces and plenty of parking. The main shop is beautifully curated by color and style with an extensive selection of designer brands like VINCE, Veronica Beard and Theory just to name a few. The second space features luxury brands like Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Gucci (also highlighted on their website). We spoke to Ellen about the unexpected turn her family’s life took more than 15 years ago that lead to her taking over Consigned Designs and what she loves about being a small business owner in Greenwich.
Can you please share a bit about yourself and your life in Greenwich?
I moved to Greenwich when I was in 7th grade, back in the 70s. I grew up in Old Greenwich, where I ultimately began my love of thrift shopping, when I would visit the Rummage Room every day after school. I went to Eastern and then graduated from Greenwich High. After completing my studies at the University of Wisconsin, I moved to Vancouver to start my career as a Special Education teacher. It was in Vancouver where I met my husband and thankfully my dad offered him a job he couldn’t refuse to move back to home. We packed up and were back home in Greenwich starting our “new life” raising six boys.
When and why did you buy Consigned Designs from the original owner?
In 2005 my family went through a turbulent time. I was a stay at home mom and my husband was working for a local hedge fund which ultimately closed overnight and left us scrambling to make ends meet. As fate would have it a year later, a friend informed me of someone who was looking to take over her Greenwich consignment shop. Within 24hrs I was at her front door and within a week, I told her I wanted to buy it. It was the best thing that could have ever happened. I am thankful to the original owner every day of my life.
That’s amazing. Where do you find these beautiful items? Everything is in such fantastic condition…
First of all, our consigners trust us because we are friendly, well-established, and knowledgeable about our products and market trends. Our word of mouth business encourages our clients to bring us their most treasured possessions. My 15+ years of experience enables me to curate exactly what my shoppers want. We are adamant about keeping our inventory constantly fun and fresh.
How does your store compare to an e-commerce megastore like The RealReal?
We pride ourselves in taking a more personal approach with our customers, offering styling advice when needed as well as being able to offer immediate updates on any questions or concerns the consignor might have. We also prefer to keep a consistent commission split to make it easier for our customers to gage their sales. What we DO have in common that I want people to know is that, I too, will help women in their homes when it comes to “cleaning out their closets”. I can’t advertise the way The RealReal can, but I do offer the same service on a very personal level and I always hope that the local women choose a small mom and pop shop over a large corporation. We also have an incredible luxury ecommerce site, designed and maintained by my son, Stephen, but again, we are small and cannot compete on the same scale as The RealReal.
Speaking of your store, your space is huge and so welcoming. What do you love most about it?
I love never knowing what might come through my open doors each day and what new friends might bring in! Every day is different and I love that! Our consistent and devoted clientele reassures us that there is always a substantial and desirable selection available to enjoy. I can do so much with my space and because I have the flexibility of the two adjoining stores and a huge parking lot, we have been able to host private shopping parties and special events which only add to the fun!
How has the Greenwich community been integral to your business?
Because we are a family run business we consider the Greenwich community as part of our extended family. Having roots here myself, I feel, plays an important role in understanding it’s demographics and lifestyle needs. I feel lucky to be part of the Greenwich community, offering what I think, is the best way to shop!
This story is sponsored by Consigned Designs.