This is from an article that appeared in the Connecticut Business News Journal
Monday, May 4, 2009
MILFORD,CT – Karen Quinn-Panzer had spent three decades in the advertising business when she had a life-altering epiphany. “I said, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore,’” Quinn-Panzer recalls. “I decided to make a switch.” Last November, Quinn-Panzer was suddenly let go from her job, a casualty of the nationwide downsizing epidemic and her heart wasn’t in the job search. That’s when she decided to make a career change.
The result of her decision is Village Vogue Boutique, a vintage consignment store that Quinn-Panzer now owns along with her husband, Frank Panzer. The couple opened their 163 Broad Street business on April 7,2009 and had a ribbon-cutting ceremony April 23, 2009.
“It’s very exciting,” says Quinn-Panzer. We’ve got [everything from] skirts, jackets and career wear to shorts. We have jeans, evening gowns, basic black and nice summer dresses, shoes, handbags, jewelry. Most of the clothes go for one-third off of retail. We have name brands and no brands, vintage and brand new, so it really is a broad range.”
Available items also include a selection of wedding gowns, one of which dates from the 1890s.
Transitioning from downsizing victim to heading one’s own company outside the home is quite a leap, even more so when one considers the time frame involved. Quinn-Panzer transformed herself from unemployed worker to owner of an up-and-running business in just five months.
“It came very rapidly,” she agrees.
A longtime vintage buyer herself, Quinn-Panzer set about turning her love of clothing and accessories into a business by first finding a location for her shop.
“I decided to check into rental spaces and live my dream,” she says, adding that establishing a consignment shop as a new business in a recession makes a lot of sense.
“Consignment is doing quite well in this economy because people can recycle things in their closet for cash.”
Milford was a natural place to locate the business because she and her husband, Westchester, N.Y. residents at the time Quinn-Panzer decided to change course, owned a vacation home here that they rented out during the off season.
“We found a space on the Milford Green, a beautiful house loaded with charm,” she says. The couple is renting five rooms on the first floor of that two-story colonial. They set up residence in Milford and are now renting the Westchester property.
Quinn-Panzer says she and her husband pooled their resources to for start-up costs. In addition to space, other expenses include a new computer and software program, estate and yard sale items, clothing racks and advertising. The owners are fortunate not to have to spend a lot for merchandise, Quinn-Panzer says.
“One of the beauties of consignment is that you don’t have to pay for inventory – people bring it in,” she says.
Sometimes in abundance. Four of the aforementioned wedding dresses were the first items Quinn-Panzer received for her shop. That started an avalanche resulting in the current wedding gown inventory. About ten were from a friend affiliated with a breast cancer awareness foundation, and half of the proceeds from those will be donated to charity.
Typically consignors receive 40 percent of the sale price, says Quinn-Panzer, adding that she is now accepting summer items.
- Fairfield Consignment
- Westport Consignment
- New Haven Consignment