I started a mental list of luxury items that will, at least in theory, forever be staples in my closet – Chanel quilted purse, couture leather jacket, Hermes scarf, vintage fur stole, perfect pair black Manolo’s heels – just to name a few. Being an avid shopper, the treasure hunt to find these items at a deep discount is part of the fun. We are lucky in DC to have a plethora of consignment stores and I visited several to see if I could find the luxury items I was looking for… though I’m still saving for these items so I left my credit cards at home.
All the consignment stores I visited carried J. Crew, Banana Republic, Nanette Lepore, Tory Burch, etc. – which is great for staples, but I was looking for the “Fifth Avenue” brands. After several stops, it came down to these three consignment shops that had the best selection of luxury items.
Inga’s Once is Not Enough
The grandmother of consignment stores in the DC area is Inga’s Once is Not Enough on MacArthur Boulevard. Inga Guen has been in business for 16 years and many of her items are consigned from boutiques from all over the world – meaning these items have never been used! She has everything from old jewelry, to electronics – even metal detecting accessories! I counted at least 20 pairs of Manolo heels, Christian Lacroix suits, and an entire rack of Chanel jackets, suits and gowns. She organizes her high end labels by racks rather than mixing all the brands together. She also has an abundance of Chanel and Gucci handbags as well as Akris (one of her best selling brands). If you are looking for something particular, just ask Inga; she has a back room of sorts where she keeps some additional inventory. She is dedicated to making her customers happy by working with their budget, style and body shape.
Despite being surrounded by such beautiful and couture fashion, talking with Inga (who was dressed to perfection) was the highlight of the visit. Her pleasant nature and dedication to her customers is obvious. Her face lit up as she described the under 45 crowd in Washington as being “the pulse of DC fashion” and how they are both “fashion- and budget-conscious.”
Favorite things from Inga’s:
New to You
Christina Novak’s boutique in Falls Church has been in business since 1992. I was impressed with the clean and crisp environment that seems to be an anomaly with consignment stores. Many of her consignees mail in items from all over the country. She has a well-stocked inventory of handbags from Louis Vuitton and Valentino. So, shopping at a thrift store like this is worth the splurge.
Out of the three stores featured, New to You had the largest jewelry inventory with brands like David Yurman, Gucci, Alexis Bittar and vintage Tiffany. It was the only shop that had a few pairs of Christian Louboutin shoes. The use of social media has allowed her to expand her network of consignees, expanding her luxury inventory as a result. A handful of high ticket goods are listed online for sale.
Favorite things from New to You:
The newest addition to this market is Toni Henderson’s shop in Old Town, Virginia that opened last summer. Owning a consignment store is a family trait; Toni’s mother owns one of the largest consignment stores in Minneapolis.
Mint’s luxury inventory is relatively small and tucked away next to the registers, but it’s an area she continues to expand. On visiting last week I spotted several pairs of Gucci, Prada and Jimmy Choo shoes as well as Escada and St. John clothing. During my weekday visit the store was packed with customers ranging in age.
Favorite things at Mint Condition:
These shop owners are so clearly dedicated to their store and customers. And my list is of luxury items I covet is now a little longer.
(It is worth noting in closing that I had a particularly awful experience at Secondi in Dupont Circle. The staff were rude and would not allow me to interview them or photograph the store.)