In Howard County, a boom in secondhand stores brings designer looks for less

Secondhand shopping is all the rage these days – and Howard County fashion lovers are getting in on the action.

Over the past year, a handful of consignment and resale shops have opened around the county, peddling everything from high-end designer clothing to hard-to-find sneakers.

Funky Finds

Westwood Unique, 13554 Triadelphia Road, Ellicott City. 410-419-7076.

Funky Finds, which celebrates its first anniversary this month, is tucked into a pretty loft space inside Westwood Unique, a furniture shop in a former Ellicott City church.

The owners, Donna Hennessy and Mylinda Hinkle, work with consigners and a few local boutiques that sell their overstock, pulling together an upscale collection of clothing and accessories, including brands like Prada, Michael Kors and Calvin Klein.

“It feels more like a boutique than a thrift store,” says Hennessy. “We put outfits together, and people will buy the entire outfit. Mylinda is so creative – she’s a stylist and will meet people at the store and help them put pieces together at a great price. We have a personal touch.”

Prices range from under $10 to nearly $200 for designer items, like a pair of Prada boots that typically retail for $1,200 but are priced at $175 at Funky Finds.

“It’s a neat place with really nice things,” says Deanna Bailey, a Dayton resident and regular customer, who counts among her favorite finds a trio of velvet jackets and a pair of “practically new” black suede boots by Anne Klein.

“Prices are reasonable and the items are quality,” she says. “I’ve gotten lots of compliments from things I’ve found at Funky Finds.”

Charity’s First Picks

Savage Mill, 8600 Foundry St. #4, New Weave Building, Savage. 301-498-5035.

Charity’s First Picks is the newest addition to a family of four resale shops located in Savage Mill. The shops benefit Success in Style, a nonprofit organization that helps outfit people in challenging situations who are looking for jobs but lack the means to purchase appropriate interview clothes.

The Success in Style shops include Charity’s Closet, a women’s resale shop where every piece costs $5; Phil’s Closet, which specializes in men’s clothing (also all priced at $5 per piece); wedding dress resale boutique Cherie Amour; and Charity’s First Picks, an upscale shop that opened at the end of the summer.

All the shops rely on donations from the community; the higher-quality pieces by big-name designers are funneled to Charity’s First Picks.

“We carry leathers, fur and all the designer things,” says founder Jeannette Kendall. “It’s very elegant – high-end and pretty and chic.”

Recent finds include a Cynthia Rowley Merino wool sweater for $25, a Kenneth Cole leather pencil skirt for $30 and a Michael Kors handbag for $75.

Baltimore resident Ben Swanson and his wife, Kamila, are “real clothes hounds” who are regular customers at Charity’s First Picks. “It’s fabulous,” Ben Swanson says. “We just love it and we love the idea behind it – that we’re supporting a charity. We’re serious shoppers; my wife goes there once a week, religiously, and shops.”

Clothes Mentor

8865 Stanford Blvd., Suite 125, Columbia.443-218-2555.

Suzanne Delica, owner of Clothes Mentor, an upscale women’s resale shop that opened this summer in Columbia, knows that in the resale world, details matter – particularly when it comes to the quality of high-end resale clothing.

“I’m big on attention to detail,” she says. “We take pride in our presentation and we take our time. We lay out each piece and review the condition, making sure there are no holes, dings or pilling.”

Delica comes by her attention to detail naturally: She started her career as an engineer, though she always had the fashion bug. As an undergraduate at the University of Florida, Delica started an online fashion boutique catering to students in her area. After graduating in 2011, she moved to Maryland for a job in nuclear engineering, falling in love with the area but not with the job. After exploring several options, she came upon Clothes Mentor, a national franchise, and knew the fit was a good one.

Delica’s care and focus is apparent to her customers; though Clothes Mentor has only been open for a few months, she already has quite a few fans.

“My experience at Clothes Mentor has been nothing but exceptional,” says Elkridge resident Sabrina Gordon, who has bought a variety of items, from a leather jacket to True Religion jeans and a Tory Burch bag. “There are so many designer pieces, but it’s not just the name, it’s also the quality.”

Designer bags like Gordon’s range in price from $40 to as much as $400 depending on quality and style, but most of the looks go for less. Everyday handbags fetch $10 to $30, jewelry costs $4 to $12, and shoes go for $10 to $40.

Kingdom Shop

8052 Main Street, Ellicott City.

Since its opening on Ellicott City’s Main Street in May, sneaker resale and consignment store Kingdom Shop has become a regular haunt for sneakerheads from all over the Mid-Atlantic. The shop, owned by friends Kevin Metzler and Chase Battle, has gained a reputation for its friendly atmosphere and cool selection.

Metzler, who has been into sneakers for years and personally owns about 100 pairs, enjoys interacting with all the different types of customers who visit the shop – even the kids who come in to hang out.

“I like having a place for people to pop into, to come in and chat,” he says. “I’ve been collecting for 15 years, and I know a lot and I also like to learn new stuff.”

At Kingdom, pairs of sneakers start around $50 but can fetch as much as $1,000 depending on the style. Recent offerings included Air Jordan Retro 1 “Shattered Back Board” kicks for $500, and New Balance 997 “Rose” sneakers for $250.

Brendan Nass, who lives across the street from the shop, is impressed with Kingdom’s collection and the diversity it adds to Main Street.

“He’s got stuff you can’t find in regular stores – shoes that are limited releases and European brands you don’t typically see,” Nass says. “It’s different than your typical antique shop or clothing boutique that you see around here.”

Know your lingo: Resale versus consignment

At resale shops, shop owners stock their stores by purchasing items outright from people selling their clothing or accessories.

At consignment shops, on the other hand, the original merchandise owner retains ownership until the item sells; at that point, the shop owner pays the consigner a percentage of the sale price.

Some local shops are strictly resale or consignment; others are a mix of the two.

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