Small-business spotlight

SMALL-BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: Eco Chic Boutique, Dyer

2014-01-18T11:46:00Z SMALL-BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: Eco Chic Boutique, DyerBy Andrea Holecek Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
January 18, 2014 11:46 am  • 

DYER | If you’re looking for designer clothes at bargain prices, or if you want to rid your closet of all your unused clothing, Eco Chic Boutique can help.

The upscale consignment shop buys and sells gently-used women’s clothing lines as well as offering new jewelry and other accessories such as scarves and gloves.

“We handle clothing lines such as Anne Taylor Loft, Prada, Coach, Michael Kors, Dooney & Bourke, Chico’s, and many others in a boutique setting,” said Trish Caruso, who co-owns the shop with Diane Gross. “People come in out of curiosity and went home and cleaned out their closets.”

The shop pays for clothing based on a formula that includes brand and condition.

“They can either take the money or get in-store credit,” Caruso said. “We have consignors and we have shoppers and we have people who do both,”

The women often had talked about going into business together.

“The two of us have been friends for 25 years, and always dreamed of doing something together that was fun and would also fill a need,” Gross said. “… We felt consignment was something that made good sense. It's a win-win situation. The consignor makes a little profit so it puts money back in their pocket, and the customer and consignor can also purchase clothing at a fraction of the cost of the original price. It’s recycling for the ecologically conscious and the economically savvy shopper. We simply provide a platform in which they can do that.”

The idea stalled following the death of Gross sister, Dawn Brancheau, a trainer at SeaWorld, was killed by a giant orca whale in 2010.

“I put things on hold following my sister's death, Gross said. “(She) was so supportive of the idea of a consignment store, it being my last conversation with her. With the creation of ‘The Dawn Brancheau Foundation,’ we inspire others to follow their dreams and dream big. I decided that's what I also needed to do.”

Caruso works in the shop for the majority of its opening hours while Gross, an administrative assistant, does its marketing and other administrative tasks and works in the shop evenings and Saturdays.

“We got the idea because we’ve shopped consignment shops before,” Gross said. “Most are cramped, crowded and stinky. There’s a lot of junk you have to sift through. We have the cream of the crop. We take anything from Gap to Gucci as long as it’s current. In-style and very, very gently used.”

The business partners opened the shop in October and are already in line to recover their about $25,000 investment by next spring.

“We made a business plan and we’re doing way better than we expected,” Gross said.

A Facade Improvement Program grant from town of Dyer has helped make the shop a success, she said. The grant paid half the cost of almost $6,500 in improvement to the 2,000-square-foot shop exterior ambiance.

“We now have beautiful awnings and lighting which truly beautifies the building and, with our window displays, it looks like North Michigan Avenue when traveling through Dyer,” Gross said.

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