Cindy McCartneyCindy McCartney is the owner of Diva Designer Consignment and Other Delights in Old Town Alexandria, VA. With the backing and encouragement of her husband, David, she left a lifelong career as a cosmetic and fragrance executive to open her dream store—a women’s designer consignment boutique in which shopaholics (like herself) could recover some of the money they had spent on fabulous things they bought but never wore. Over the years, Cindy’s love of fashion and designer labels spiraled into 1) a way-too-intimate relationship with Neimans, Nordstrom and Saks, 2) a closet bulging with designer fashions…and 3) enough shoes to put a down payment on a house (hello Carrie Bradshaw). She realized that she wasn’t the only woman in this situation…and certainly not the only person who came to see the $2700 handbag du jour as a bit extravagant—and ridiculous. Her m.o. at Diva is to offer designer items at a fraction of the original price so that fashionistas could fill their closets and not feel the guilt of full-price shopping. She is also able to implement store strategies mirroring those she admired from her many experiences in stores—for instance, customer service is key at Diva. Suffice to say, Cindy’s PhD in shopping and looking for great bargains is being used to its best advantage in her business. She likes to think of it as using a very very bad talent for the common good of fashion-lovers everywhere. The name of the store was taken from one of her two dachshunds, Diva (who totally lives up to her name!). Diva will be opening a bridal area this fall for brides who don’t want to spend ten million dollars on their gowns!
The next thing is to do a little homework, know where to shop and where to get the best pieces for your money. You want to spend your money wisely but you have to know the ins and outs. A lot of people believe in going to outlets to shop which is great because you can definitely find great things there but you have to be careful because a lot of outlets, stores get things made especially for them which are sort of a lesser quality than you would find in a department store. So, really look at it. Even though, it looks like its a great deal its not the same quality as you would get for instance, in a Banana Republic store or sometimes they make special things for the Banana Republic outlets. So, keep that in mind.
The other thing that a lot of people dont consider is sales like last call at Neiman Marcus, Saks has something similar, a lot of these department stores have fabulous pieces that you can layer into your wardrobe and they will be totally attention-getting. But you dont want to spend a huge amount on them, but by the time, they are in last call, theyve been marked down three or four times and then theyre 50% off of that. So, youre really getting a great piece for a total fraction of the cost.
Another option of course, my favorite option, since I own a consignment boutique is going to consignment shops. This is another tricky thing because therere a lot of different types of consignment shops. Some specialize in clothing. You have to go for the genre of clothing that you like to wear. Our store specializes more in contemporary looks, we go for one of a kind things. This season, were very big on dresses but there are other consignment shops that are more suit-oriented, that are more conservative, that have a more St. John things which if thats your thing, great. One caution about that though, watch out for the prices because, again in consignment stores sometimes the prices are a lot higher for something thats one or two years old, than it would be if you went and got something at last call at Niemans or a Saks thing. You would be ending up paying more for an older item. So, just know it. Also, get to know somebody at the stores that you like to shop in because they will clue you in about when the sales are going to happen and they will also pull items for you and hold them until they can ring them up and thats called pre-sell. So, keep all that in mind before you go.