Consignment shop ‘steps out’ to help shoppers

Nathalie Tadena

Evanston’s newest consignment shop aims to give customers a “helping hand” during difficult economic times.

Stepping Out on Faith Consignment Shop, 1632 Orrington Ave., opened on Oct. 14, said owner Vivian Killebrew.

“I’ve got clothes that are slightly worn, and I’ve got a bunch of new clothes,” said Killebrew, who is an Evanston resident. “It’s all about getting a good deal and helping someone out – we all need a helping hand sometimes.”

As a consignment store, Stepping Out on Faith accepts clothes in good condition from donors, which are then re-sold at prices as low as $5, she said. If an item is not sold after 30 days, the item’s price is reduced by 10 percent. After 60 and 90 days, the item is reduced another 10 percent respectively. After three months, donors can come back to the store to reclaim their old clothes, or they can leave them with Killebrew, who will then donate them to charity.

The merchandise spans women’s, men’s and juniors’ clothes, though there are also some children’s items for sale. About 60 percent of the merchandise, which includes clothes from designers like Hugo Boss and Ralph Lauren, still have their original tags, Killebrew said. Clothes have always been a passion for Killebrew, who received a degree in fashion design from Brooks College in Long Beach, Calif. and spent three years working for Marshall Field’s.

Killebrew said she had been interested in opening a consignment store for several years but was ultimately inspired by her late husband.

“(He) used to always tell me, ‘You have to step out on faith sometimes. You have to put it in God’s hands and take a chance,'” Killebrew said.

After her husband passed away in December, Killebrew spent six months calling friends for clothing donations. She said she receives new donations regularly, which means customers can find something different every time they visit the store.

“In this economy now, people can’t really afford retail,” she said, adding prices are negotiable. “You have to pay your rent, you have to send your kids to school, you have to do your groceries. I knew and know a lot of women who have clothes in their closet just like me with price tags that they never wear.”

Evanston is already home to several other resale shops, such as Thriftgeek, 522 Davis St.

“It’s part of an American buying culture,” said Jonathan Perman, executive director of the city’s Chamber of Commerce, noting there are also resale shops on Dempster Street and Chicago Avenue. “People have been shopping at resale stores for years.”

But unlike other resale stores, Killebrew said her shop resembles more of a retail setting.

“Some consignment shops are just so junky,” she said. “I don’t want that. I want you to walk in and not have to fight through stuff…I don’t like to shop like that so I want it to be a nice, good atmosphere.”

In its first week, Stepping Out on Faith’s staff said they have not advertised much – most customers hear about the store through word-of-mouth.

“It’s moving along,” said Krystal Lewis, the store’s manager. “It’s been fun helping people to see what fits them, what looks good.”

Killebrew said she hopes to expand her store and has plans to bring on two additional part-time employees. She said the store might possibly move next door into the space currently occupied by Patrick Keenan-Devlin’s campaign office.

“We help you just as if you’re going to a department store,” she said. “We really just want to get off the ground and give people a good bargain on good quality clothes.” [email protected]