Sixth Avenue Consignment Boutique
Contributed by VisitKenosha.com
Ladies, you know that fashionable and stylish person in your life who you want to dress like and look like? Imagine that she one day opens her own women's clothing store to help ladies of all sizes look and feel great. Sherry Ludwig is just that person. "I have always had a passion for fashion," Sherry says. That passion, combined with her realization many years ago that Downtown Kenosha needed a women's clothing store, led her to open Sixth Avenue Boutique and ZouBisou Lingerie at 5531 Sixth Avenue.
Sherry originally opened her business in April 2011, under a different name and with a business partner. Now she is the sole owner, and expanded from being a consignment shop to also offering new intimate apparel items. Originally from Northeast Illinois, Sherry left the area for a time, eventually returning and moving to Kenosha County. "I just fell in love with Kenosha," she says. She worked in the corporate world for 25 years until the 2008 downturn of the economy. Her job would often take her out of town. An avid walker, it was during her walking excursions through Downtown Kenosha that she realized there was nowhere there for a woman to purchase a pair of shoes or earrings to pack in a suitcase to travel. It would be six years later that she would open a women's clothing store to fill that need.
This is the first business she's owned. "My father has always been an entrepreneur. And I knew that although there's always a risk, I knew that I could make it running my own business so I took the plunge and opened the doors. ... And here we are four years later, still with the doors open." While at her corporate job, she would wear cutting edge shoes and jewelry, and a group of ladies used to emulate her and copy what she was wearing. Now that's what she sells! "We offer ladies from size 0 to 4x every fashion accessory and clothing available from the inside out, including lingerie."
Sixth Avenue Boutique offers gently used designer clothing and accessories, including shoes, handbags, hats, purses, wallets, sunglasses, scarves, belts, and more. Earrings, bracelets, and necklaces are also available. There are three types of jewelry offered: vintage designer, artisan-crafted, and new items.
How does consignment work? Clothing is rotated in and out of the shop every 60 days. Per each 60-day session, there are 300 consigners offering products. Since the shop opened, 2,500 people have consigned with Sherry! She tries to rotate consigners, and always offer every size range. She asks consigners to think of what clothing is appropriate for the season for the next 60 days. If it's fall, fall items will be available.
Sherry's consigners come to her by word-of-mouth, with many from Chicagoland, Madison, and the Milwaukee area. Clothing that may not stand out and be noticed in that area is seen as new and fresh - and fabulous, Sherry says - in the Kenosha Area. The clothing must be 2 years old or newer, or a "nice classic piece". It needs to be mall brand or better, and Sherry prefers designer brands like Louis Vuitton, Coach, Michael Kors, Prada, and Ann Taylor.
How do you know you're not getting a knockoff? Sherry authenticates any items that come through her door with a designer label. The consigners are required to bring the authentication card with the clothing. Each item has its own creed, which Sherry can look up to make sure there aren't any knockoffs. Sherry will sell knockoffs as well, but those items are marked accordingly.
This is affordable shopping, as there is a discount off the original retail price. "Fifth Avenue style at a Sixth Avenue price," Sherry calls it. There's a re-sale standard Sherry says, with items marked 30-35% off the original retail price, if they are two years or less and in good condition. Sherry will also receive never-worn items with the tags still on. Those items are offered at up to 50% off the original price. The consigner receives 45% of the final sale price, unless she accepts store credit. Then she'll receive 55%. This encourages consigners to shop at Sixth Avenue Boutique, and many do!
What's the hardest part of Sherry's job? Turning clothing away, and telling the consigner without hurting her feelings. She notes their feelings shouldn't be hurt, because she naturally can't take everything (there's only so much room in the shop!). Sherry must be objective, not subjective. She can't take an item just because she likes it. She can only take items that she believes will sell. She knows what sells and what doesn't, as she keeps a meticulous inventory. She'll often refer consigners to other shops in town.
Sherry says, "The best part of my job is when someone finds a piece of clothing," – especially clothing they've been searching for. One day, a lady found the Audrey Hepburn dress she had been looking for her entire life, and at $18, she could afford it. The happy customer jumped up and down in joy. "That kind of thing makes me very happy – to help ladies look and feel great about themselves." She says sometimes that means thinking outside of the box, and having customers try something they wouldn't necessarily try.
Sixth Avenue Boutique is all about being green and helping the environment! By recycling and re-using clothing, there are fewer items going in landfills. Sherry encourages consigners to donate their items that don't sell after 60 days (they also can pick the items up). The shop donates products to the Kenosha-based non-profit organizations Women and Children's Horizons and Shalom Center, as well as Easter Seals and local churches. "We love to support our charitable organizations," Sherry says. Another way she does this is by offering special products. For instance, at the time of this interview she has available a special bracelet by Cleopatra's Pearls – with all proceeds supporting Women and Children's Horizons.
In addition to the consignment part of the shop, new boutique lingerie is offered: "new and unique products for Downtown Kenosha," she says. This section of the store is referred to as ZouBisou Lingerie; offered are new European inspired every day and occasional intimates. Sherry began offering these new products so she could provide more one-stop shopping for her customers. Soaps, perfumes, body lotions, and hand creams are also offered in this section. Five points to know about ZouBisou Lingerie: if you don't see your size, you can custom order; there are two dressing rooms; layaway is available; bra-fitting is a service that's offered; and gift cards are available.
The customer base for ZouBisou Lingerie grew after the shop participated in the K-Town Burlesque held at Rhode Center for the Arts in August 2014. This area of the shop is also promoted as a place to purchase bridal shower gifts and accessories. In fact, you can hold bridal showers or bachelorette parties at the shop. While shopping for intimate apparel, you can enjoy hors d'oeuvres and wine.
You don't have to go to Paris or New York for high-quality fashion. It's right here in Downtown Kenosha – and at a great price to boot!
VisitKenosha.com | September 2014