SPRING HILL — Hut No. 8, which also bills itself as Brand-Name Clothing Exchange, celebrates its first anniversary this month in Coastal Way Plaza.
The location is part of a national chain of clothing exchanges, which is "the new trendy name for consignment shop, except you get your money right away," said Jennifer Rado, the franchise's owner.
The franchise differs in that it deals in familiar, upscale brands. There about 7,000 of them, Rado said, but basically, "If you can buy it at the mall, we take it. I'm all the brands at the mall, all under one roof."
In other words, clothing from a big box or discount store doesn't make the cut.
"We're hip-hop trendy, Goodwill on steroids," continued Rado, herself attired in skin-hugging jeans and gently faded T-shirt. Only clean, slightly worn garments are accepted, meaning, she said, "We've preshopped for you."
Racks of clothing at the shop in Coastal Way — near State Road 50 and Mariner Boulevard — display women's and men's shirts, pants, jeans, shorts, jackets and more bearing such names as Aeropostale, American Eagle, Hollister, Apt. 9, Forever 21 and Guess. The shoe brands include Tom's, Qupid and Fahrenheit. Nikes, "gently worn, no tread wear," sell out as quickly as they are consigned, Radio noted.
Clothing, chosen for the age 14 to 40 wearer, is artfully displayed in the beach hut-themed store, arranged by size and style.
Also offered are such accessories as belts, jewelry and designer sunglasses.
When a customer takes a consignment to a Hut No. 8, the franchisee checks a garment's brand name against the parent company's computerized list of acceptable makers. A price is offered, based on the computerized recommendation.
People with clothes to sell can choose cash or store credit, in which case they receive 20 percent more value.
Rado said 90 percent of her offerings are consigned by local residents.
Sale prices are 70 percent to 80 percent below new merchandise. For example, women's high-end shoes sell for $32 to $45, T-shirts for $7, jeans for between $10 to $60.
Rado, 43, said she has recently been buying Talbots, Coach and other items for somewhat older customers. "I will gladly buy more if people come in," she said, noting "Coach purses go out as quickly as they come in," selling for $30 to $60.
As for her retail credentials, Rado said, "I've done sales forever, then management." She came to her fashion sense naturally, she said, because "I'm from New York."
Rado also teaches grades 4 and 5 at Explorer K-8. Thus, she employs a store manager, Gabrielle Alteiri, and two part-time sales associates.
Hut No. 8 also has outlets in Zephyrhills, Lakeland, Tampa and Orlando.
Beth Gray can be reached at [email protected]