Midtown’s Consignment Shops

By on 23 March, 2012 in Fun, Kate and Stephen, Shopping with 0 Comments

On a warm Friday I took a tour of our neighborhood’s three major consignment shops, all within walking distance from each other. Most of the time, when we use the verb “to consign,” it doesn’t have a good connotation. We consign our misbehaving pet to the yard and our spoiled food to the compost pile. But consignment shops put a hopeful spin on the word – they create the possibility of new life and love for clothing (or bags, or jewelry, or belts, or furniture, or whatever) that people don’t want any longer. In this town, when the subject of recycling comes up in conversation, we usually reminisce about the good old days of curbside recycling and what a bummer it is to drive your glass up to Birmingham. While we’re still working on plastics and paper, Midtown’s pretty much got the market cornered on recycling clothes and accessories.

Matters of the Heart Second Time Around Up Scale Resale Boutique

The sign outside confused me. I wasn’t sure what MOTHSC stood for, but I do know consignment shops, so one Friday afternoon I went in to see who dared to occupy one of Midtown’s most difficult pieces of real estate. You know the place next to Montgomery Veterinary Associates by the horrific Carter Hill/Narrow Lane/Mulberry traffic nightmare? In the time we’ve lived here, it’s been a doomed ice cream shop and a specialty children’s clothing joint, but since the new year it’s been sporting a new sign and some very snappy window displays.

Turns out that MOTHSC stands for Matters of the Heart Service Center, a program that supports women in transition. Owner Felicia Taylor began receiving so many clothes to support women in need that she thought a consignment and used clothing store might be a good way to support her ministry while engaging the community. She’s given a lot of TLC to that little building on Carter Hill, which is full of light and beautiful floors, perfect for displaying the nice clothing and shiny baubles for sale there. In rooms adjacent to the shop, Felicia also offers classes for women in transition. “When you invest here,” she told me, “you invest in the lives of women.” There were a lot of pretty dresses on display, as well as some nice suits and shoes. I didn’t buy anything on my first trip, but I’ll definitely be back. Maybe for their Grand Opening and Open House, March 30-31, when they’ll be open from 10-6.

What I got: Inspiration

What I wanted to get: These improbably furry and bejeweled shoes.

Repeat Performance Consignment

Repeat Performance Consignment, down on Mulberry past Shashy’s, can be a treasure trove on any given day. It’s part rummage sale, part high-end boutique. Sometimes you find deals there that cause you to look over your shoulder lest someone accuse you of theft. Other times you page aimlessly through the racks trying to perform the classic thrift store calculation: number of potential actual wears/price = deal. There are some great things at Repeat Performance, and it’s worth liking their Facebook page to get regular updates on the really good stuff that comes into the store. There’s also a discount room where everything is $5.00, featuring everything from the positively unwearable to the head-shakingly chic. Throughout the store, you can flip from a too-small spangled something to a perfectly crisp oxford shirt to a strangely over-laced mini skirt to a thoroughly conservative sweater without even blinking an eye. Oh Midtown, you’ve sure got diverse taste in clothes.

One thing’s for sure – whenever you are here, everyone else is having a great time. It’s fun to watch ladies picking things out for each other, trying on, laughing and cooperating. The changing rooms are nice, the staff is always pleasant, and although I’ve never consigned anything there, I know people who have said it’s a seamless process.

What I got: An amazing strapless Lily Pulitzer dress that makes me look like the world’s most glamorous tablecloth.

What I wanted to get: These gold lamé capri pants, possibly paired with one of the sassy shirts on the wall behind them.

A Size Up

I’d never been in this wonderland of a Mulberry Street shop till last Friday, and I’m filled with regret at all the fun I could have had on those missed visits. I didn’t go because I’m not a “plus size” (16 and up, as owner Jackie defines the store’s inventory). That should have been no obstacle. A Size Up is a wandering maze of handbags nestled against improbably tiny plants, framed by beautiful lamps and outrageous hats. It’s divided into a few rooms. The first is on California Time (a clock is set, in case we don’t know the difference) – and within are the aforementioned hats, as well as beautifully curated clothing and a colorful variety of accessories. Then there’s the room set to Alabama Time, with a variety of furnishings (and some really great lamps that I very much wanted to take home). There’s a huge basket of handbags further in the back, a whole room (and several shelves up front) reserved for shoes, and a room set aside in the back for much larger women’s needs.

Everyone is so happy here. The customers are thrilled to wander and try things on in the well-furnished dressing room (where they also keep the formal wear) and the family owners seem full of laughter and eager to fit you into just the thing that will make you feel beautiful. Giant cut-outs of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl (she has a word bubble attached to her saying “I wish I were plus-sized”) decorate the eclectic shop.

Sometimes I think we forget just how weird the shops on Mulberry are. I mean weird in a wonderful way, like a haphazardly curated Berkeley boutique or a strange Memphis coffee shop that also sells used board games. We’re lucky to have A Size Up in our neighborhood. And not just because they keep it cool – because they help our neediest citizens. Turns out that for folks transitioning from jail, A Size Up will clothe them for their first five days of work and even pay to get their hair done. That’s being a good neighbor.

What I got: A nice woven Fossil handbag with big wooden handles for our upcoming vacation.

What I wanted to get: This hat.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a cat, a dog, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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