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Susie Vitale, the stylish owner of Cleveland Consignment Shoppe: Fashion Flash

Susie Vitale, 39,
Pepper Pike

Owner of Cleveland
Consignment Shoppe

Tell me about your store.

The Cleveland Consignment Shoppe is in the Golovan Building at 28790 Chagrin Boulevard in Woodmere across from the Apple store at Eton Chagrin. We take clothes,
accessories and shoes from designers like Prada, Jimmy Choo, Lanvin, Marc
Jacobs
, Tory Burch, Ferragamo, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Louboutin,
Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Versace and more. We don’t take in mall brands like White
House | Black Market, Ann Taylor or Banana Republic, only because there are other
consignment stores that carry those brands.

How can you confirm
that a designer bag is authentic?

We use a combination of things. We have our own experience
and we use some local experts who are kind enough to help us. And, much of the
time, we know our consignors so well and we know where they shop and that their
things are authentic.

Do people stop in
daily looking for certain things?

There are people who stop in a few times a week. I have a
waiting list of people looking for Louis Vuitton bags. They sell almost
immediately. The Chanel bags go fast, too. And the best thing, our consignors
shop all over the world, so the store contains things from everywhere. It’s
like shopping in another city, and we get new things in every day.

How do you describe
your style?

I like to wear statement pieces. I like to invest in special
things, like great pants and then pair them with a more trendy, updated top or
blouse from Banana Republic or Zara, or somewhere. I invest in good quality and
fun, unique things. I rarely wear jeans and I don’t accessorize too much. I
like patterns and color.

Do you like vintage
and retro looks?

I like some vintage things. I have a small collection of
vintage maxi skirts. One of them is a vintage Mr. Dino. It looks like Pucci. It’s from the 1960’s. The company was started in the 50’s and named after Dean
Martin. When something is a nod to the late 60’s, I want it. I even have some
vintage Ohio Knitting Mill pieces, including a 70’s maxi dress, from when they
closed the mill.

Where do you like to
shop, other than your own store?

I like the Saks Off Fifth outlet, Nordstrom Rack and Zara. I’m
a sale shopper. I also shop when I travel. I love to mine the local talent in
terms of the consignment shops like in New York and Palm Beach. Consignment
shopping is very big right now.

What drove you to open a store?

I wanted my own business. I recognized a hole in the
marketplace for a high-end consignment shop. In September of 2012, my friend
was doing a pop-up store, so I collected some things from friends and family and
joined her. Next thing I knew, someone who is now one of my best consignors
showed up with 10 Chanel bags for me to sell. After things took off, I found my
first store location. We outgrew it in six months and moved to our current
location last November.

Who are your fashion
icons or favorite design houses?

I’ve always been a Lilly Pulitzer girl because I love color
and patterns. I see all of the big names all day; it’s hard to pinpoint it. I
like things from one collection by one designer and other things from other
designers. I do love the high-end designs from Calvin Klein. Not the stuff you
see at TJ Maxx or Dillard’s, but the sleek designer stuff from the runway.

How do you follow the
trends?

I have to keep current so that I can assist my customers on
how to wear a vintage or consignment piece. I read Women’s Wear Daily and the New York Times. I subscribe to all of the designers on Facebook and I
read Vogue and Bazaar. For example, when someone buys great patterned pants
from my store, I can tell them that flouncy blouses are in, will work great and
they have them at Zara. I keep up so that I can help my customers make their
looks relevant.

What don’t you like?

While I shop at Zara, I can’t stand the fast fashion stuff
that’s going on. Just how people cycle through clothes so fast. I’m trying not to over buy. Zara is fast fashion, but I also see it as fabulous
design and better quality than some of the stores. I’ll wear a piece from Zara
for at least four years. I also don’t like fashion victims — those people who
are slaves to whatever is hot or to brand names and they wear something even if it’s
not right for them.

Other than vintage
maxi skirts, what do you collect?

I love coats of all kinds. I love anything Pucci. I
collected leather pants from my days of living in New York City, but I wore them
to death and they went out of style, so I got rid of them.

How has your style
changed over the years?

I’ve learned what looks good on me. I know what silhouettes
work for me and I stick with them. I wasn’t really into fashions until I moved to
New York City about 10 years ago. It was so fun to dress there. Also, I now
get about three quarters of my clothes tailored. Fit is the most important. I
go to Designing Tailors at Cedar and Green.

Are there any beauty
products that you can’t live without?

This sounds random, but my Twin Turbo 3500 hairdryer. You
can find them for between $100 and $200. It steams your hair. Mine is wavy and
I don’t need to use a flat iron. It’s amazing!

What’s coming up in
trends?

I love what they’re doing with handbags lately. They’re
clean and tailored with beautiful lines.
If you have a great bag, shoes and a great coat, you can wear anything
else with it. I don’t have tons of clothes and I’m not a bag switcher. I’m so particular, I find the one that I love
and I’ll wear it to death. I can wear a good designer bag for several years and then
sell it for several hundred dollars on consignment. They age well, so it’s a
winning situation.

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