Dress for success: Take 2 Consignments
It started with a daughter's request for a formal gown for a high school dance. An idea was born, and a business launched. Eight years later, Take 2 Consignments on Belknap Street is selling upscale clothes for women of all ages, drawing loyal cu...
It started with a daughter's request for a formal gown for a high school dance.
An idea was born, and a business launched.
Eight years later, Take 2 Consignments on Belknap Street is selling upscale clothes for women of all ages, drawing loyal customers from as far away as Canada and Chicago.
"My daughter started asking for the next expensive gown for the next dance," recalled Diane McGinnis, founder and owner of Take 2 Consignments on Belknap Avenue. "I call them the three-hour dresses. They wear them for three hours. They take them off. They never want to see them again. No matter that mom spent $300 to $800 dollars on that dress, they're done."
McGinnis suggested her daughter and friends work out a dress exchange, and the idea for a business began to take shape.
"I knew right away. Ten seconds after the idea went through my head, I said, 'Okay, that's good for two months out of the year, what about the other 10?' I went dashing to my closet and saw tags."
McGinnis, who describes herself as frugal, figured, "If I have tags, every woman has tags in her closet. Let's have a wonderful space to exchange them. And the doors opened five months later."
That was 2003. Today, St. John knit suits mingle with Burberry jackets in one part of the store. A separate display showcases a pair of stiletto-heeled, black leather Harley Davidson boots, along with one of McGinnis' own finds: Pashmina scarves, which a major retailer list for $150 and Take 2 sells for just $15. A side wall is covered with brightly colored, tropical print cruise attire and accessories. Closer to the dressing rooms hang sequined and ruffled prom gowns -- the "three-hour dresses" that served as McGinnis' original inspiration.
"When I hear a gasp, I know the customer is new," laughed McGinnis, describing her variety of inventory. "What I carry here is formal, casual and career. We're always in flux here. It's a boutique."
McGinnis didn't always categorize Take 2 as a retail business. "At first, I classified it as a service instead of retail," she said. "My service to the community is to offer a space like this."
Take 2 has evolved over the years as McGinnis has figured out what works best for the consignors who want to sell and the customers who want to buy. The one constant is her insistence that clothes be upscale, and in new or like-new condition.
"We are surrounded by rummage sales on every block in this town from snow melt to snow fall," McGinnis said. "I do not want to be in competition with that."
She has a three-part policy for consignors. Clothes will be displayed for eight weeks at an agreed upon price. If the garment sells, she pays the consignor half the selling price. If it doesn't sell, she returns it.
McGinnis has always loved textiles and fine fabrics, but admits she's not a fashion expert, and had no retail background prior to opening Take 2 Consignments. But her enthusiasm and determination make clear that her success is no accident. And with most of her inventory coming from local women, her ability to be discreet helped, too.
"We don't mention names here," she said of her consignors. "I sometimes wish I had called this 'The Secret Woman.'"
Still, plenty of the outfits she sells come with interesting stories. For instance, there's the pink designer prom gown originally purchased for $1,000 at an exclusive Twin Cities boutique.
"A thousand bucks. Mom gets it home. Daughter doesn't want to wear it. What's she going to do with it?" McGinnis listed it for $389.
There are also stories from the customers on the other end of the transaction, including a young woman who ran in the door saying she was getting married and needed a dress. McGinnis recalled, "I asked, 'okay, when's the wedding, how much time do we have?' She said 'eight minutes' because she wanted to get back to the courthouse because her husband was being shipped off to Iraq."
McGinnis's friendly approach has given her a tremendous sense of camaraderie with her customers.
"It's that personal touch that matters. And that's what it was all about, what I wanted to create."