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Marlene Hall grew up an army brat and has lived all over the world and in Washington, DC. Since an early age, she has played sports including soccer, basketball, and swimming; receiving three letters in high school for sports participation. Marlene graduated from the University of Virginia where she wrote for the Cavalier Daily and interviewed popular 90's bands including No Doubt and the Goo Goo Dolls. Commissioned an Air Force officer, she served in Korea, Germany, New Mexico, and Louisiana. Marlene earned two masters degrees while in the Air Force in Management and IO Psych. After leaving active duty, she has worked as a government contractor, freelance writer and public relations executive. Marlene dabbles in improvisational comedy and has taken classes at the famed iO Theater in Chicago. She is very active in the DC charity and social scene and contributes her time to DC Humane Society's Fashion for Paws. She also was a supernumerary in the Washington National Opera's Carmen with opera singer Denyce Graves. An extrovert at heart, she has never met a stranger. Marlene loves journalism, attending events, meeting people and making things happen. She lives by the motto, "The best way to predict your future, is to create it."

Designer Resale Boutique

Designer Resale Boutique is tucked away in a small enclave of businesses on the corner of St. Elmo and Woodmont Avenues in Bethesda, Maryland in a small red brick townhouse.  The storefront sits at an angle facing St. Elmo, but is also visible from Woodmont if driving into Bethesda from the direction of Rockville Pike or NIH.

Designer Resale Boutique in Bethesda, Md Designer Resale Boutique sale window

Although unassuming from the outside, inside is a fun and colorful array of boutique designer clothing and accessories that includes almost anything that one would need for a complete wardrobe.  There are shelves of costume jewelry, and racks which include everything from evening gowns, the latest jackets, dressy tops, jeans in assorted colors and sizes, and beautiful spring dresses by industry names such as Dolce and Gabbana; to black patent high heels by Jimmy Choo.

Dolce and Gabbana blue and white geometric print dress

A Dolce and Gabbana dress hangs against the back wall mirror, among other stylish ones.

The store is small and only takes very selective pieces for resale, but has lots of high-end, unique designer merchandise and is a great place to look for items such as designer handbags at bargain prices, as well as fur coats.

The shop owner and manager, Tiina Hayden has run Designer Resale Boutique for 17 years in Bethesda, (since 1994). She has been at her present location at 4801 St. Elmo since 2001. Her goal she says, in working in the resale industry, “is to make designer clothing affordable for the working woman.”  She carries many top name labels including Armani, Ungaro, Hermès, and Chanel; as well as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada and Fendi.

Tiina Hayden, owner of Designer Resale Boutique

Tiina Hayden, owner of Designer Resale Boutique in Bethesda

Clothing items change regularly with the seasons, but furs are some of  Tiina’s hottest sellers.  She specializes in furs that are gently worn, but still in good condition, and believes in recycling them to help the fur industry to stay eco-friendly, “by keeping down the demand for new.”  Tiina has had repeat customers who have come back and purchased as many as five furs from her over a period of time, and she is one of the few resale boutiques that specializes in furs.  Another one of her goals is to create a unique style and shopping experience for women so they will not feel that they are wearing just what is seen in the department stores.  Over time, she has built up a clientele in many other parts of the United States, and overseas.  In one case, a client who moved to Brazil wrote up her store on a local blog there and, as a result, she now has even more clients from that country.

Costume jewelry display cabinet

Designer Resale has a nice selection of costume jewelry and handbags, that are more upscale and unique.

Tiina will personalize your shopping experience by helping to pick out pieces for you if you are local.  She has also been known to send photos of items to her overseas clients, so they can choose pieces from those, and will also package  things up and mail them overseas for these clients, as well.

If you are consigning items, Designer Resale Boutique offers a 50-50 split at no fee, providing the items have designer quality labels, and are accepted.  Items will then be placed on the floor for 90 days under contract.  After both 20 and 60 days, they are reduced at 20% to encourage sales.  For those items that are not sold, customers can either pick them up at the end of the 90-day period, or have them donated to some of the charities that Tiina deals with such as the National Capital Area Shelter for Children and Families, and Martha’s Table.  All items must be dry-cleaned and in good condition, as well as being of designer label quality.

Some  fun stories about Tiina’s consignment shop experiences include recent publicity for Designer Resale Boutique on local T.V. stations during the week of the Obama Inauguration, with a piece by NBC’s Wendy Reiger of News Channel 4 who dropped into the store one day; as well as Tracy Potts of Fox News who also stopped in at this time. Tiina was quoted with regard to Michelle Obama’s wardrobe and style on Fox, and the news clip later circulated on CNN.  In the past, the shop has also supplied Chanel pieces for the wardrobes of the women actors of the T.V. show, “Girlfriends”  starring Tracy Ross, (the daughter of Diana Ross).  More recently in 2003, Designer Resale Boutique also provided the clothing for the actors of a small, independent Spanish film that was shot in Adams Morgan, after being approached by its producer.

Shoe displays

Spring shoes - in both formal and casual styles.

Designer Resale Boutique is truly a unique shop, so if you’re in Bethesda and in the market for some upscale items, be sure to stop by this spring to check out its merchandise!  To see some of their current items for sale, you can also “Like” them on Facebook.

A quote from a recent customer: “This store has been my favorite for the better part of ten years. No out-of-date junk here, but a large selection of both hip and classic women’s wear ranging from casual chic to after-five, and everything in and between. My last visit was in search of an outfit for a formal event.  I found a dress, beautiful beaded shawl, shoes, evening purse AND jewelry. In short: one stop shopping rather than running all around town to piece together an outfit!  The staff is knowledgeble and helpful.  I give it an  A+.” — Courtney J.

Designer Resale Boutique
4801 St. Elmo Avenue
Bethesda, Maryland 20814
(phone): 301-656-3722

-Jackie Apel contributed to the research and writing of this article.

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