It all happened so quickly. One minute I’m driving and the next minute I’m spotting a Louis Vuitton Limited Edition Stephen Sprouse Pink Graffiti Speedy (say that ten times fast) in the window of a small boutique. Somehow I managed to avoid getting in an accident (thank you designer label gods!), and made a mental note of the shop so I could stop in at a later date.

Last week I finally was able to pay a visit Clothes Encounters of a Second Time, the consignment shop (with the pretty epic moniker) where I spotted the Louis Vuitton purse. Much to my dismay, the Louis had quickly sold, but lucky for me there were lots of other designer pieces for me to admire.

Immediately entering the shop, I was greeted with a smile and warm welcome by shop owner, Monique Dugas. The boutique itself is neatly laid out with designer goods lining the walls and shelves. Amid the dresses, shoes, handbags and scarves are inspirational sayings posted on the walls and above change room doors. The store is inviting and quaint, but packs a giant designer punch. From Prada handbags, to Fendi boots, there is truly something for every designer lover and each trip provides an exciting designer treasure hunt for the customer.

I love consignment shops. The thrill of sifting through items until you stumble upon that one coveted piece that you adopt and give a new life in your closet. A Gucci handbag no longer able to be loved by one owner is now the go-to handbag for another. It’s also a great way to snag those hard to find, limited edition or vintage pieces that are longer being made. It’s also the best place to purchase shoes because they are already broken in. Tell me one girl that doesn’t dread the first week of breaking in new shoes!?

Clothes Encounters of a Second Time is a consignment shop that has been a staple in Ottawa since the early eighties. The business was started by three women and surprisingly enough began in a basement as a way to help out refugee women by providing them with clothing received through donations. Soon, the women realized that a lot of the donations were high end designer goods and the idea for the consignment shop was born.

Monique purchased the store from the three original owners in 2003 and has been adding her personal touches and creative ideas ever since. “As a business if you want to survive, you have to change,” Monique told me. One way she has made the boutique her own is by incorporating inspirational sayings all over the store.  “I want people to feel good about themselves when they come into the shop,” says Monique. It is easy to see that Monique has been successful in creating this type of atmosphere in her shop. Three of the women I spoke to that were browsing the racks have been loyal customers for years, both cosigning their own items and shopping at the store.

Another great aspect of Clothes Encounters of a Second Time is that they share items seasonally. Currently, the store is stocked with summer items but in a few more weeks the fall inventory will be out. Monique also makes it easy for clients to consign their items offering both appointments or drop off services.  Monique explained to me that the women of today are busy, which is why the store offers the drop off service, truly tailoring her business to cater to her clientele.

The great thing about Clothes Encounters of a Second Time is their personal account program that acts like a bank account. Each customer is given an ID number and personal account that is confidential. They can call in the shop and ask about how their consigned items are doing and also inquire about how much money is in their account just by giving their ID number.  Monique even offers mailing options. She told me about a client who had seen an Alexander McQueen scarf on the store’s website, sent Monique the money for the scarf and postage and had it delivered to her in Toronto.

Monique Dugas, Owner

Consigning is a great way to get rid of those items that give you buyer’s remorse or to make space for new purchases. Make sure to check out Clothes Encounters of a Second Time’s website, which not only has their consignment policy and consignment forms, but also has their Flikr showroom, which is kept up to date with all the shop’s latest pieces for sale. The shop is also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you are a local like me, it can be found at 67 Beechwood Avenue in Ottawa.Monique Dugas, Owner of Clothes Encounter of a Second Time.

Since Monique is a successful business owner,  and I have just started my own business venture, I asked her if she had any advice for people wanting to start their own business. Her advice for success? “Be there 100% and find a good team,” Monique stated. She stressed the importance of finding a good team and nurturing them. She said it is important  to model your staff after people that resemble you in values and work ethic. Another pointer Monique offered is to build relationships with clients by always telling them the truth versus trying to make a sale. This was clear to see when I was in the shop. All of the customers that were present when I visited the shop left with at least one item and Monique was there to suggest pieces that worked for their price range and style. 

I’ll be keeping my eyes out for more Tory Burch, Louis Vuitton and Kate Spade!

Written by Tracey