Originally from the former Yugoslavia, Rada Frohlichstein encourages her customers to shop locally. Different from other consignment stores, half of the store is consignment, or gently used, and the other half is upscale boutique, or brand new [pictured].
There are a few options for consigners: receive half of the proceeds, offer cash/check upfront, or receive 60-40 percent store credit, in their favor, to be used at both stores.
"We have such a wide range of products that it's better for them to use store credit, and they get to keep 60 percent," Frohlichstein explained. "They make more money for their product, and they still need accessories. That way, I won't have to worry that I took advantage of customers."
Frohlichstein is generous to her customers. For example, a Wakefield resident on chemotherapy couldn't afford an inexpensive lilac sweater, but asked her to hold it for two weeks. Instead, she gave away the sweater for free.
Frohlichstein expanded to Melrose the end of July at 486 Main St., which is solely an upscale women's clothing store (no consignment yet). Her business plan is to open a third location in 2014. Both stores sell women's shirts, jeans, blazers, outerwear, dresses, boots, and dressy clothes.
She first opened her business eight years ago, and the Wakefield location has been open since 2008.
Magaret Eifert, of Wakefield, was a customer in the Wakefield store, looking at dress pants and denim shorts ($15 and $5, respectively), although she originally came in to look at shirts [pictured]. Oftentimes, she finds items she wasn't expecting. She visits every six months -- rather than shopping retail -- because she finds upscale clothing for less expensive prices that's current, not out-of-date.
She commented on how it's different from other consignment shops she's been to, noting the environment is friendly and entertaining.
"It's always open," Eifert said, pointing to the merchandise. "Some aren't as reliable, because they don't get enough business. It's very high-quality clothing, and well-laid out. It's not crowded, and you can actually see what you're looking at."
She has several years of experience to be this successful.
"I have a background in fashion all my life," Frohlichstein told Wakefield Patch. "I worked with four up and coming designers in Paris and was a diamond buyer for a large corporation for 12 years. It's not like opening a food or pet store. It's embedded in me."
The customer demographic is 20 to 70 years old with the biggest amount being 30 to 45, she explained.
Kathy Talluto, of North Reading, has been a sales associate/consigner in the Wakefield store for about a year and a half.
"If people want help, we try to help them find what they're looking for," Talluto added. "We help them to pick out what will match or what they're trying to achieve. That's the boutique part."
On the other half of the store, it is a treasure hunt, and it is exciting for consigners to make a profit.
For sales associates/consigners, the dress code is comfortable -- there isn't a name tag, or uniform. Talluto tries to dress in clothes she purchased there.
Originally, Talluto was a customer for more than a year and became friends with Frohlichstein, noting everyone in town knows her.
Linda Pytlak, of Melrose, came into the store for the first time, and walked out with a light/gray poncho shawl from Italy [pictured].
"I've walked by so many times," Pytlak explained. "It was just beckoning me, but I'm glad I stopped in. I'll be back."
For information, email RadaFashion@GMail.com, visit the boutique's Facebook page here.