When Kim Herman started buying her own clothes at the age of 16, she quickly learned that her babysitting money didn’t go very far at the mall.
That’s when she discovered consignment shops. She developed a keen eye early on for spotting quality — a skill that continues to pay off many years later.
In 2010 Herman and her husband Jeff opened The Red Chair Consignments & More next to the Holiday Market in the Lake of the Pines area.
Over the years, Herman had worked in a variety of fields, including the post office, the state parks system and — more recently — sheet metal fabrication.
Then, she turned 50.
“There’s something about turning 50,” she said. “You realize that when it comes to following your dreams, it’s now or never.”
Herman chose “now” two years ago, when she bought up inventory from a small estate and opened The Red Chair. It didn’t take long for her to realize that finding “consigners” would not be a problem.
“They were ready to bring things in even before we opened our doors,” she said. “In our area, we had — and still have — way more than we could take in. Currently we have close to 1,000 consigners — that’s why they have to make an appointment ahead of time and bring a maximum of 20 pieces per visit — otherwise I’d be overwhelmed.”
The high volume has allowed Herman to carry only high quality items in top condition, with new merchandise coming in the door daily. Name brands such as Ann Taylor, Banana Republic and Coldwater Creek regularly cycle through the store, said Herman, whose goal is to keep displays fresh.
When the Red Chair first opened, Herman said she wanted her customers to help determine what she would carry the most. She wasn’t surprised when it turned out to be clothes.
“Our store is mostly women’s clothes and jewelry — some vintage, some costume, some gold,” she said. “We carry shoes that are new or like new, as well as some brand-new wholesale items, such as scarves, purses and other accessories.”
With a goal of providing customers with new and gently used quality merchandise at economically smart prices, The Red Chair also carries antiques, household décor, collectibles and minerals. A unit a few doors down houses furniture and other larger items.
“Much of our store decor contains recycled items with a new purpose,” said Herman. “We’re definitely a mix of the old and new.”
The Hermans are looking forward to their fashion show at this year’s Paint the Town Pink event, which raises funds for breast cancer care. Red Chair models will include friends, customers and consigners.
“One model is 80 years old and she’s been in fashion all her life,” said Herman. “Her goal has been to make $200 a month at our store, and she’s done it so far.”
Now that Herman is finally following her dreams, with the help of her husband — who spent 30 years working in the state parks system — The Red Chair is likely to become a longtime fixture in Lake of the Pines.
“The most rewarding part of this venture has been the new friends I’ve made,” said Herman. “But all the chatting gets me into trouble — I should be spending more time processing all the new stuff that continues to come through the door.”
To contact staff writer Cory Fisher email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4203.