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Emanuel Wilder, Classy Closet Consignment

"Just plain kindness ..."

· Clothing,Consignment

Tell us about Classy Closet Consignment

We are a consignment store selling both women and men’s clothing and accessories and small furniture items, including quite a bit of designer product. We offer complimentary consignment pickup for over 30 different designer pieces, and a simple, convenient online consignment pickup booking system. Weather permitting, we always have a $5 rack outside on the sidewalk.

Where did you get your passion for clothing?

My passion for menswear came from the fact that I was born into abject poverty on a plantation in western Alabama in 1952. My parents had no money to buy basic clothing for the kids, but made shirts and other garments from sacks that had contained fertilizer or flour. We went half-necked in summers and damn near froze to death in winters. I just wanted changing clothes so that I didn’t have to feel ashamed when I went to school. I saw a well-dressed substitute teacher one day with a starched shirt, tie, starched pants with shining shoes and argyle socks. Although I was only in the third grade, I decided that one day I would dress just as well as that substitute teacher. It has been a long struggle, but I can say without a doubt that my closet is inferior to none. I am not as passionate about women’s wear, but it came with the territory.

What's the story behind the name of your business?

We wanted the name to be similar to the shop that had previously been there, since we were selling the same product -- designer consignment clothing. The previous business was called Consign by Design, and they had purchased it from the Crowded Closet Resale Shop.

Why did you choose to locate your business in Evanston?

Consign by Design was a shop that had been consigning items since the early sixties, so I’ve heard. I shopped at the store from 1980 until 2013 when I took it over. Incidentally, our price range now is lower than it was when I took over.

What sets your business apart from others that sell the same products?

Customer service, personal knowledge of products sold, and just plain kindness.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about opening a business?

Know your market. And plan to put in long hours with little or no profit initially! If you offer good product, sold by a good staff, the profits will follow.

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