Christine Meehan and Donna Bauch, two friends from Stony Brook who launched their business Divine Consign in Smithtown on Nov. 3 last year, say they have learned some important lessons along the way: lessons that have kept their business ahead of their original expectations.
For instance, they are focusing on trends. They continually update the look inside the store, and they've expanded their shoe inventory to include lots more boots – currently a hot item in the fashion world.
Most notably, Meehan said, their business selling gowns has picked up, so they're doing more of that – including bridal gowns. They've also begun offering layaway and dress rentals.
"I think with the economy, it's kind of a trend with Sweet 16s and proms," Meehan said. "It's much more cost-effective."
They started out selling men's clothing and small home accents, but have since stopped. They've added inventory for teens and maternity wear, and they're working with a seamstress who can make alterations.
Meehan called the store "bursting at the seams now," no pun intended. "In the first year it's not easy to pull that off," she said.
The pair has done their fair share of outreach, hosting fundraisers for school groups at Smithtown and Ward Melville, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the Madonna Heights women's shelter, and for a local family that suffered a tragedy.
Little by little, Meehan said, "people found us." She called Main St. a tough road to do business on. "We get new customers every week who just learned about the store," she said.
There aren't any plans for a second location. "It's a lot of work, and it's just me and my partner," Meehan said. "If anything, we'd just make this store bigger so we can stay together."
The biggest surprise for the pair has been the number of consigners – and consigners with particularly lovely things to sell – who bring in inventory. Among the feedback they've received: customers have said they will stop into the store first before going to the mall.
"Some people like the way it feels in here," Meehan said, "and they keep coming back."