Recently, as the retail world was being rocked by the news that the venerable Fifth Avenue department store Henri Bendel will cease selling, oh, clothes, Myrna Skoller was on the phone from Boca Raton, where she spends most of her time nowadays, discussing the contrasting fortunes of her 19-year-old Upper East Side consignment shop, Designer Resale.
“I’m really excited to say I’m getting that final piece of space I always wanted, that store right next to us,” she said. “We’re adding another 1,700 square feet of space. That’ll probably make us the biggest one in New York!”
Ms. Skoller’s mini-empire of shops on East 81st Street between First and Second avenues already comprises Designer Resale, Gentlemen’s Resale and Designer Resale Too: three distinct storefronts that occupy a sizable chunk of their sleepy block. One recent afternoon, items for sale included a black eyelet Prada dress for $300; a sexy aqua halter dress by Versace for $125; and an oversize brown suede Jimmy Choo tote covered in barnacle-like studded hardware for $900. “We’re doing very, very well,” said Ms. Skoller said. “We don’t seem to feel any kind of economic crunch. We just don’t seem to feel it.”
Of course, being a resale outfit, Ms. Skoller’s business often sees misfortune’s silver lining—or micro-suede, as it were. In 2006, for example, she was tapped to sell 2,000 designer pieces from the wardrobe of former Palm Beach socialite Lin Gosman, wife of heath care magnate Abe, when Ms. Gosman was hit with a $66 million judgment in the wake of her hubby’s $500 million bankruptcy (Ms. Skoller does not disclose the names of her consignors, she was quick to note; this one was outed by The Palm Beach Post). The haul included a Hermes alligator Kelly bag that went for $10,000.
More recently, Ms. Skoller drove out to New Jersey and recovered 148 Hermes scarves from the closet of a deceased fashionista whose sons were selling her stuff. “It’s become so common,” she sighed, of the sartorial windfalls of calamity. “I only wish I kept a journal.”