High-End Consignment in Connecticut: Designer Labels at Great Prices

Karma High-End Consignments in Hamden.

Karma High-End Consignments in Hamden.

Keyvan Behpour

Designer-label and high-end women’s consignment shops are the most stylish places to shop right now and Connecticut happens to be blessed with more than its share of hotspots overflowing with treasures being offered at great prices. Here’s the scoop on some of the best and most prominent destinations.

Consigned Designs, Greenwich
Consigned Designs and the even more luxurious sister shop next door, Elle Encore Couture, are a dual paradise for women with impeccable taste and style who want the very best labels at prices that have descended from the pinnacle of retail profit-margin markups.

The shops are located in a proverbial and literal oasis in Greenwich, not far from bustling Greenwich Avenue but have their own calm parking area in an equally calm alcove, making the experience so much more pleasant than one involving jockeying and paying for parking.

Owner Ellen Atkinson (above) retired from teaching to raise her six sons in Greenwich, and later began looking for a new career. She connected with the consignment shop whose owner “was literally going to close the door.” After working in the shop for six months, Atkinson says she “fell in love with it.” She bought the place in 2006 and the rest is fashionable  history.

“Every big name you can think of” is represented in the two shops, Atkinson says. She also has a Magaschoni apparel store offering a luxury lifestyle brand including cashmere and wovens for the modern and classic woman, but declares, “Retail doesn’t excite me like resale does.”

Prices on everything from Prada to Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana to Kate Spade are generally one-third off retail, and items that linger end up in an upstairs section where everything is 50 percent off what it was originally marked—meaning a total of 65 percent off the original retail price.

This may be Greenwich, and Atkinson’s shop may be the most rarefied in Connecticut, but that hardly means there aren’t great deals—and those deals change all the time, given the volume of business the shops do and the new consignments they take in. “Every day it’s different,” Atkinson says.

There’s also artisan jewelry and more, including clothing for children.

“It’s the fun of finding something different,” says Atkinson of the obvious appeal beyond the luxe nature of the labels and the allure of the pricing. “It’s the art of the hunt.”

And that even draws celebrities. Out of fidelity to her clients, and good grace, Atkinson doesn’t name names, but a reliable source told us that the celebs who love Consigned Designs include Catherine Zeta-Jones.

We could say more, but you should just go to Greenwich and discover for yourself the beautiful world Atkinson curates.

Consigned Designs is located at 115 Mason St. in Greenwich; (203) 869-2165; consigneddesigns.com.

Designer Label Consignments, Westport
Owner Mary O’Toole wasn’t in the day we stopped by, but missing the opportunity to chat enhanced our ability to shop. Designer Label Consignments, located on a busy stretch of Post Road East, isn’t a big shop, but it can offer big treasures. Look carefully and you’ll find delightful Manolo Blahniks, for example, and while this story is geared toward stylish women, there’s a men’s section with some nicely priced designer-label suits that look brand new.

In honoring the shop in our 2012 Best of Connecticut, we said, in part, that O’Toole prides herself on being “very picky” and accepts only items in impeccable condition—with names like Gucci, Tory Burch and Prada, as well as midrange brands like Theory and J. Crew, and lots of designer jeans. “Anyone who says money can’t buy happiness doesn’t know where to shop,” O’Toole told us then.

And in terms of where to shop for the best designer and high-end consignment, Designer Label Consignments is an insider’s gem.

The shop is located at 1344 Post Rd. E., Westport; (203) 255-9099; facebook.com/DesignerLabelConsignments.

Jolie Boutique, Avon
The litany of labels at this family-owned shop is like a list of lust-worthy names for stylish women: Tory Burch, Prada, Burberry, Coach, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, St. John and more. “We love fashion!” the website declares and it shows. “We travel to New York City, St. Armand’s in Florida and local area boutiques to stay abreast of fashion trends for all ages and style preferences.”

It’s not all big names, though; there are plenty of ready-to-wear brands like Ann Taylor, LOFT, Coldwater Creek, Talbots and Banana Republic. Jolie Boutique is located in a prime shopping and fine dining area along Route 44 in Avon, which can make it the centerpiece of a destination trip. Even better, you can get a sense of what you love by shopping the website before you go.

Jolie Boutique is located in Old Avon Village, 25 East Main St., Avon; (860) 678-0808; jolieboutiqueconsignment.com

Karma High-End Consignment, Hamden
If you’re determined to find striped Tory Burch shorts without the sticker shock, you’ll love Karma High-End Consignment in Hamden. It has a boutique atmosphere without the boutique prices, which means it features labels like Louis Vuitton and Free Republic, but it does so in a stylish open setting with eye-catching displays and a simple-but-sophisticated decor.

Forget sifting through overcrowded racks of outdated pieces in search of a “find.” Karma’s fans on Facebook praise the beauty of the shop as much as they love going home with an iconic Michael Kors bag, a vibrant silk J. Crew sundress or a pair of Jimmy Choo pumps.

All of this is by design. Before opening Karma three years ago, owner Liz Wilson prowled the consignment stores in New York City to do some “research” and found that “the racks were too full, and it just felt like you were going through someone’s junk, like in a basement.”  

With that in mind, Wilson inventoried about 10,000 pieces before even knowing how to use the computer and the business just “exploded immediately.”
Since opening, the shop has sold more than 35 Louis Vuitton handbags, and this season, several beautiful LuLu Lemon pieces were gone within hours of posting about the new arrivals on Facebook.

But perhaps the greatest addition this year was the arrival of Wilson’s adorable baby girl who will undoubtedly be a stylish fashionista someday just like her proud mom.

All in all, Wilson says people love Karma because it’s not stuffy, it’s not overcrowded and it has nicer items. In an effort to keep things in order, Wilson asks consigners to schedule an appointment before bringing in items—perhaps one of the main reasons why people consider the shop to be “peaceful” and use it as an “escape.”

Karma is located at 3565 Whitney Ave., Hamden; (203) 248-3800; facebook.com/KarmaHighEndConsignment


The Cedar Chest, Branford & Clinton
Imagine shopping at your neighbor’s house—that is, if your neighbor has a house filled with fashion finds. Instead of discovering oversized knit sweaters from winters past, perhaps you’ll come across a brown Coach belt, or a hot pink Kate Spade bag that matches perfectly with a printed Diane von Furstenberg cotton dress. With soft lighting and simple accessory displays, The Cedar Chest in Clinton is a women’s designer consignment boutique that’s both warm and inviting.  

From Salvatore Ferragamo slingbacks to light Chico’s jackets, this charming shop has a new-to-you piece for anyone who’s looking for a stylish treasure to add to her collection.

Owner Nancy Briggs says people like this shop’s intimate nature, but instead to house a larger selection of items, Briggs opened The Cedar Chest II in Branford—a 3,600-square-foot one-stop quality consignment shop. With women’s, men’s and children’s sections, there’s a good possibility that you won’t walk out of here empty-handed.

Whether you prefer gazing at a number of carefully selected items, or you like a challenge and want to hunt for the season’s statement piece, both stores will satisfy your shopping cravings without draining your wallet. “You can look great without spending a ton of money,” says Briggs. “Stay out of the designer stores—you can get the same thing here for a lot less. Shop smart.”

The Cedar Chest is located at 85 W. Main St., Clinton; (860) 669-9425, and The Cedar Chest II is located at 2 Liesl La., Branford; (203) 488-9425; thecedarchestresale.com.

DWR Consignment Boutique, New Canaan
Featuring brands such as Gucci, Prada, Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Chanel, DWR also showcases other great labels such as Lily Pulitzer, Ralph Lauren, Elie Tahari and Trina Turk, as it specializes in high-end designer consignments for women and girls.

“Our main focus is to provide both our clients and consignors with the best experience possible,” the partners say on the website. Beyond offering luxe brands at a fraction of the retail cost, and giving consignors the chance to clear out their closets, DWR prides itself on unparalleled customer service. Altogether it’s a great equation.

DWR Consignment Boutique is located at 33 East Ave., New Canaan; (203) 594-7376; dwrconsignment.com.


Grape in the Shade, Washington Depot
Connecticut Magazine has twice named Grape in the Shade the Best Vintage Shop in Connecticut, and while this story isn’t really about vintage we had to include “The Grape” because it’s such a hidden-gem haven of high-style treasures.

Owner JoAnna Lombardi tells our colleagues at The Litchfield County Times, “People who love fashion love vintage.”

The shop moved a while back from a fairly obscure spot to a more central one in Washington Depot, but it remains a treasure trove of gorgeous yet affordable finds that Lombardi has sourced from an area with the type of demographics that likes the best of the best—and likes to pass it on when they’re done.

“When you think about fashion, you want [garments] that are comfortable and well made, but really what makes them are the accessories,” Lombardi told the LCT. “Accessories I will never buy new; accessories in my mind make the outfit.” As for her one-of-a-kind collectible jewelry, she says, “You can’t really get that everywhere.”

When the LCT visited to see her new location, a regular happened to stop in—“The Good Wife” actress and Litchfield County resident Christine Baranski. “I’m so excited, this is the greatest vintage shop,” said Baranski, who has apparently worn Grape in the Shade items on the red carpet.

Case closed: Make plans to discover Grape in the Shade.

The shop is located in Bryan Memorial Plaza in Washington Depot; (860) 868-9119; facebook.com/GrapeInTheShade

Molly Rose Consignments, Madison
Name one consignment shop that has more than a dozen Lilly Pulitzer pieces. Now name one that will even sell you the beautiful sea foam green table it’s displayed on. Part clothing store, part home goods shop, Molly Rose Consignments in Madison has a hidden treasure for anyone on a budget.

From racks of Free People jeans and Ann Taylor blouses, to a shelf lined with an array of colorful Vera Bradley handbags and wallets, high-end items are easy to find.

Beautiful wooden tables and vanities are displayed around the store—some of which are used to display intricate jewelry, rustic home décor and the latest summer arrivals.    

Shop owner Brittany Jackson, 25, (left) hopes customers have an enjoyable shopping experience with good service from a staff that’s helpful and friendly. She also says it’s a great feeling when customers find exactly what they’ve been looking for—after an exhausting day at the outlets in search of the perfect dress, one woman came to Molly Rose and left with two amazing pieces.

Unlike other consignment shops, Molly Rose accepts goods during normal business hours—no appointment necessary. “We try not to have too many rules because I know that’s a big turn-off for a lot of people who want to get into consigning,” says Jackson. By being open every day from 9 to 6, customers have a big window of time to shop or sell.

This shop definitely has a certain hometown charm that’s perfect for anyone looking for a laid-back shopping experience.

Molly Rose Consignments is located at 391 Durham Rd., Madison; (203) 903-3034; facebook.com/mollyroseconsignments.             

High-End Consignment in Connecticut: Designer Labels at Great Prices

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