NEW PORT RICHEY — When Tammy Ciske and her husband decided to move from frigid Wisconsin to sunny Florida, she prepared for a change of wardrobe. She weeded through her closet, loaded up her old winter and maternity clothes and headed to a consignment shopping event.
Once settled in her new home in Longleaf, Ciske wanted to do another closet purge but found no consignment shopping events in the Tampa Bay area. So she created her own.
Repeat the Chic conducts three shopping events a year, featuring gently used women's items, including name-brand clothing, shoes and accessories. Since starting Repeat the Chic in April 2012, Ciske has conducted five events, with the sixth happening next weekend. The event kicks off with a pre-sale exclusively for the consignors, volunteers, vendors and event contributors on Wednesday, then opens to the public Thursday through Saturday at the Verizon Event Center in New Port Richey.
Last week at the townhouse Ciske shares with husband Mark, their 9-year-old daughter, 5-year-old twins and a 16-year-old Italian exchange student, three racks of clothing stuffed the home office and dining room. A DKNY tag surreptitiously poked out of a gauzy black dress, hanging among apparel that looks more department store than consignment shop. Even more designer wares, including items from Coach, Ann Taylor, Guess, BCBG, Nine West, Abercrombie and Express, are stashed in storage, packed in 12 wardrobe boxes left over from the last event. Once Ciske collects items from consignors during the week of the event, she expects to have between 1,500 and 2,000 items available for sale.
She preferred the idea of shopping events to a dedicated consignment shop because she could pass along her savings to the consignors, offering them higher percentages from sold items. Typically, Ciske said, consignment shops offer 50 percent of the proceeds to their consignors. The 40 consignors registered for next weekend's Repeat the Chic event stand to keep 60 percent from sold items and can increase their cut by 5 percent for every four hours they volunteer at the event.
Shopping events also cultivate a different atmosphere than a shop. Ciske's events feature music, refreshments and vendors selling beauty products, jewelry, and weight-loss, nutrition and salon services. Items left over on Saturday will be marked down by 25 to 50 percent, and there will be giveaways every 15 minutes, with a chance to win a 40-inch flat screen TV.
"I think of this whole business and this whole event like a bunch of women getting together and shopping in each other's closets," Ciske, 41, said. "That's kind of what I am looking to make this event. Just kind of shopping in your girlfriends' closets and getting what you need for certain events or having that camaraderie with having a girls' night out."
She runs Repeat the Chic on the side of working as a nurse at Pediatric Surgery Center in Odessa. Mark, a retired Milwaukee police lieutenant, runs the register and serves as the muscle, lugging racks and boxes of clothing around.
"It's a lot of work, even in between events," Mark said. "During the event, it's kind of festive in a way, working the register and meeting people and talking to people, constantly being busy and helping Tammy out and just seeing her passion in what she does. I try to be really supportive and I'm really proud of what she does."
Tammy Ciske estimates that there were about 300 transactions at her last shopping event. This time around, more than 50 people have already RSVP'd to the event on Facebook. Eventually, she says she would like to expand her events to South Tampa and Wesley Chapel, and ultimately wants to grow to other states.
"I look at it as sort of a service to the community," Ciske said. "(Shoppers) can really get good products with their money and more bang for their buck and not feel like they are having to jeopardize their style or fashion because of the economy today."
Samantha Fuchs can be reached at (727) 869-6235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.