The lingering recession has fostered a need for alternative and more adventurous shopping, as the average consumer is faced with the task of needing to stretch the almighty dollar. In the realm of fashion, consignment and resale boutiques have become very popular alternatives in this economy.
The idea of ‘gently worn’ clothing and accessories is no longer frowned upon, thus this retail niche is ever gaining momentum. Personally, I’ve always been a true fan of vintage, resale and even thrift store shopping. My passion dates back to my teenage years when I was an art school student in New York.
Everyday– back in those days when we had more days–was Halloween. That was my motto, as I tended to actually dress more so in ‘costume’, rather than in functional or conservative attire. In art school, however, I was not standing out as much as you might imagine, as my fellow classmates were driven by similarly inspired flamboyancy. I therefore consider myself a long time connoisseur and true fan of the ‘gently worn’ alternative way of shopping.
In my immediate neighborhood of downtown La Mesa, this trend is alive and kicking with three wonderful resale boutiques thriving within a three-block radius. ‘Gently worn clothing is gentle on your budget’, that is Act II’s motto. Act II resale boutique, is run by a mother and daughter team and it boasts two store locations on La Mesa Blvd., each just a few blocks apart– a seemingly strange anomaly that actually works.
Dolores Buller first opened Act II thirty years ago as a result of her divorce. “A bridge club friend was selling her resale shop just six weeks after opening it, and I offered to buy it sight-unseen”, Dolores stated with a chuckle. “Yes, everyone thought I was crazy”, she added. When asked if she knew anything about the business or what she was getting herself into, she answered with an emphatic no. “I learned by instinct. Back then, this concept was not embraced as it is today. The idea of used clothing was not well accepted yet,” she explained. However Buller made a go of it initially experimenting with several locations in La Mesa before settling in their current spots at 8243 and 8321 La Mesa Blvd, respectively, where they are well established or nearly iconic institutions to some of us. “Today, it’s trendy to shop resale as it even means ‘going green’, as in recycled,” stated Deanne Ross, Dolores’ daughter and business partner, adding that “We have costumers that run the gamut from budget conscious to very wealthy, young and older. They also sell their items to us, as we are one of the very few shops that actually buy outright, rather than consign. We pay cash and feature clothing, purses, shoes and new jewelry. We can dress you from head to toe in the latest styles.”
Asked about their partnership and working together for many years, Buller, who will turn 80 years-old this coming year, brightened up, “It’s been wonderful and we work very well together. I’m still in the store three days a week, and look forward to getting up on those mornings. It gives me a purpose and keeps me young.”
Ross added, “My mother and I share the same work ethics, and it was her idea to feature the highly popular dollar-item tables. I grew up in the store, back when we had only one location and our customers have also watched me grow up. Now, my seven year-old daughter, Jessica, is following in the same footsteps and loves to help customers. She’s quite the sales lady.”
Long-time customer, Felicia Hayes, stated, “I drive all the way from Santee to shop at both locations and have loved it for many years, since my daughter was only three years -old and they were in the Lake Murray area.” Twenty-seven year-old Clarisse Kennedy is also a big fan, stating, “My boyfriend lives across the street and I love to come in here.” When asked about what she thinks about this alternative way of shopping, she announced with a decisive glint “All I hit up is resale. It’s the way to go!”
While in downtown La Mesa, check out our friends at Fashion Exchange women’s resale and consignment shop, at 8270 La Mesa Blvd., where gracious owner Kim Romano and her friendly staff, will outfit you from head to toe with exceptional selections for any occasion. They also boast an exquisite line of gorgeous handmade, sterling silver jewelry studded with semi-precious and highly unique gemstones that are a rare and true find. To paraphrase trendy, budget-conscious and ‘green’ shopper, Clarisse Kennedy, resale shopping may just be “the way to go now more than ever.”