WOODMERE, Ohio — Julie Leddy, CEO and co-owner of Cleveland Consignment Shoppe, says it’s rare for a store to stay open for 10 years and continue to grow.
“I feel like retail in Cleveland is tough, in general,” she said. “Being a boutique is hard, and then a pandemic on top of everything else is very hard.
“So I think any small business or small shop that can last 10 years with what we’ve been through in the 2 and a half years is amazing.”
Cleveland Consignment Shoppe (CCS) — an upscale women’s apparel and accessories resale store located at 28970 Chagrin Blvd., on the first floor of the Golovan Building — will celebrate its 10th anniversary in business on Nov. 15.
All store inventory will be 10% off that day, and champagne and chocolates will be served.
“We’re just going to celebrate our amazing employees and our amazing customers and amazing shippers,” Leddy said.
Leddy noted that her store survived the coronavirus pandemic in better shape than many other small businesses, in part because of its nature.
In a consignment store retail model, people bring in items to sell and are paid a certain amount after the merchandise is sold. Thus, the store has no upfront costs for inventory.
“Our business has grown 25% over the past two years,” said Marnee Anderson, the store’s other co-owner who oversees its finances.
“I mean, we grew up. It’s been very successful since the pandemic, and this year will be our biggest ever. »
Leddy said CCS has been able to take advantage of the fact that traditional Greater Cleveland retail stores have been hampered by supply chain issues during the pandemic.
“Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue have not received (items) shipped,” she said. “Sometimes the racks were empty because there was a supply chain problem everywhere. We don’t have any supply chain problems.
“So people stayed home for three or four months, cleaning out their closets, and that really helped us. And then people didn’t really buy clothes for two years, so that helped us a lot too. That’s the beauty of our business.
Started as part-time workers
Leddy and Anderson, two Shaker Heights residents who have been friends for about 20 years, aren’t CCS’s first owners.
They bought the company in 2018 from Susie Vitale, who founded it in the fall of 2012.
Vitale launched CCS in a pop-up store in Bedford Heights and moved the business to a storefront in Beachwood about six months later.
CCS moved to its current building in November 2013.
Leddy and Anderson both worked part-time at the store under Vitale, with Leddy starting in 2014 and Anderson in 2016.
“I have a degree in fashion merchandising from Ursuline College (at Pepper Pike) and I’ve always done little retail things here and there,” said Leddy, a lifelong Clevelander who grew up in University Heights.
“I had done consignment with Susie (Vitale) before – she was selling my stuff – and I’ve known Susie most of my life, so it was a good fit.”
Anderson, originally from New Jersey, earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Miami at Oxford. She also has a background in retail, working in various department stores and moved from Pittsburgh to Greater Cleveland in 1995.
When Vitale decided to sell CCS, Leddy approached Anderson with the idea of buying it. Today, Leddy owns 60% of the company and Anderson the remaining 40%.
“And we’re still friends with the previous owner,” Anderson said. “She’s still a part of it all.”
“We only sell luxury products”
CCS offers “all the luxurious, contemporary lines you crave at a fraction of the price,” according to its website. It is described on the site as “a one-stop shopping destination” and “Northeast Ohio’s premier luxury consignment store.”
“We only sell luxury goods, which sets us apart from many other resale stores and thrift stores,” Leddy said. “It’s sort of our niche in the market.”
One key difference between CCS and a “thrift store” is that it only accepts items made within the last two or three years, Leddy said.
“We don’t do vintage items,” she says. “We want to sell things that are currently in fashion, in current fashion.”
Anderson clarified this by adding, “We’ll do a vintage Chanel handbag, but we won’t do a vintage dress.”
“I would say about a quarter of our inventory still has tags,” Leddy said. “Maybe you made a mistake, bought the wrong thing and never returned it or it was a final sale or whatever.”
Handbags are the store’s top-selling item, Leddy said. Products listed on the website include Gucci, Chanel and Givenchy bags.
“We’re known as a handbag destination,” she says. “We sell a lot of designer handbags, wallets, designer belts and designer scarves.
“But after the pandemic, we don’t see a lot of workwear because people are still working remotely. We also sell a lot of sportswear and dresses.
Anderson noted that CCS doesn’t own its inventory — “we don’t pay our shipper until we sell it” — it can “rotate much faster.”
“So once we saw what was happening with the pandemic, we were able to stop accepting suits or other work clothes because we knew people were going to be working from home,” he said. she stated. “It was really unique and very useful for us.”
Location, location, location
Another factor in CCS’s success has been its location, Leddy said.
“We’re right off the freeway (Interstate 271),” she said. “We get a lot of people from the West Side, from Akron-Canton…”
“Even down to Erie, Pennsylvania, and Pittsburgh,” Anderson added.
Leddy said CCS also has “incredible shippers” who are very loyal and travel around the world.
“So we get very unique items,” she said. “Even in that square mile there are a lot of people who are really fashionable and like luxury items, and (the location) suits us as well.”
Leddy said CCS is very selective about which items it accepts.
“Things should be in excellent condition, like new,” she said. “Condition is a big factor for us – no stains, no tugging, no rips, no missing buttons.
“We are very particular about what we take, and I think people appreciate that.”
Authenticity is also “a big issue” in luxury resale, Leddy said.
“It is illegal to sell counterfeit,” she said. “We use an artificial intelligence system that can tell us whether objects are real or not.
“It’s a huge problem within the industry. I just recommend people to go to trustworthy places to buy their items. If you’re buying from eBay or other online sites, you’re just not sure.
The future looks bright
Leddy said she thinks CCS will continue for at least 10 years, that she and Anderson still own it.
“Consignment and resale in general is the way of the future,” she said. “I feel like it’s just booming.
“I think it’s a great business plan and it’s recession proof. It’s just a huge selling point for any type of consignment store.
Sustainability is a key factor in the likelihood of continued success for the company, Anderson said.
“All the young kids — I mean 20s, 30s — they’re all into sustainability,” she said. “So I think we kind of hit the right wave.
“Now people buy a second-hand item and give it as a gift; that’s what really changed.
“Our business is never slow,” she continued. “It’s been strong all year round, but it’s very interesting that people really got it.”
CCS hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
For more information, visit clevelandconsignmentshoppe.com.