ST. PETERSBURG — For the frugal shopper looking for a suit or a pair of loafers, Trendsetters Men's Exchange, downtown's first men's-only consignment shop, may be the ticket.
Opened by California native Kevin McBride in October, Trendsetters Men's Exchange caters to a more fashion-savvy shopper than the average thrift store.
The shop, at 701 First Ave. N, offers designer club wear, T-shirts, suits and shoes at a fraction of what they would cost new, providing the local gentry with a more affordable option before scheduling an interview or meeting up with a date.
"If a guy's going to go out and pay seven to 10 dollars for a drink, why not go out and pay 10 dollars for a nice dress shirt?" McBride said.
About four months ago, McBride moved to St. Petersburg from Florida's east coast. He was recently divorced, had been losing weight and was looking for some new clothes, but after losing his income as a high-end ticket broker, he also needed to be frugal.
Noticing few consignment shops geared toward men's wear, McBride saw a niche to fill and opened Trendsetters.
"We buy used houses. We buy used cars. Hey, women have been buying used clothes for years. Why not men?" McBride said.
While business is off to a slow start, he's hoping that downtown restaurants and nightlife, and other draws such as the Tampa Bay Rays and health services, will help him grow his business. If things go well, he plans to open more locations.
Julie Karikas, owner of Designer Exchange and Designers' Consigner, two high-end women's consignment shops on Central Avenue, said McBride has picked an ideal time to open his shop.
"Business has been wonderful," Karikas said. "We hate to take advantage of the down time in the economy, but we certainly have."
She said she has seen record sales in the past two years and receives calls daily from people looking for a men's consignment shop. She has started directing them to Trendsetters.
But while the women's consignment business may be booming, shopping second-hand still holds a stigma for some men.
"Men have been slow to embrace the idea of consignment," Karikas said. "I think women are going to make up a large portion of his (Trendsetters) customers."
Guys can also make a buck at Trendsetters Men's Exchange. McBride is still filling the racks, so he's offering an even split on any sales.
McBride plans to hold inventory for three months. Then consignors can either pick up their clothes, or he will donate them to a men's charity organization.