DOWNERS GROVE – The first word in Embrace Consignment’s name comes from owner Julie Reece’s background in social work, she said. When she opened her first store in Bradley, she wanted to use it as a way for organizations like churches to be able to raise money.
So when not-for-profits bring items to sell at the store, they get back 60 percent of the sales, she said, as opposed to the 50/50 split offered to regular consigners.
The model has worked, and more than five years later, the Bradley store has since moved into a bigger, 17,000-square foot space in Kankakee, and she opened her second location in Downers Grove this May.
Any member of a church with an account at the store can bring in items and add it to the church’s rack of items for sale.
“And when someone has a house fire or other emergency, the church gives (the person in need) a voucher and they shop against the account,” Reece said.
Of course, it’s a business for Reece, too, and she was recently able to leave work as a social worker to run Embrace Consignment full-time, with the aid of her husband, children and sister, who is a manager.
“I think the key to the longevity of the Downers Grove location is to understand the value of consignment and the convenience of consignment,” she said. “How it helps the environment. These are items that may end up going to landfills. And if we can re-use, re-purpose items, that’s always great.”
The opportunity to open the 11,000-square-foot Downers Grove location in the Meadowbrook Shopping Center at 2133 W. 63rd St. arose when the landlord of the Kankakee location purchased the strip mall, she said.
“We had some clients in Naperville, Schaumburg and some from Downers Grove,” she said. “We knew that we were pulling them from those areas.
“I think people are more knowledgeable and more aware of recycling, and the value that it has. I think people are busier nowadays and to be able to sell items on their own during their work week is hard. We are convenient; we are easy to work with. They can drop their items, they don’t have to plan and sit out and have a garage sale.”
She added many of the items still have their tags, and consignment shops are a good place for shoppers to get quality clothes and furniture on the cheap.
“Value shoppers shop consignment,” she said.