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