On Business: Annie’s Attic

Annie’s Attic, a women’s consignment store, returns to downtown Cary

CorrespondentApril 28, 2014 

Rebecca Chapman recently reopened Annie’s Attic, an upscale consignment shop for women.

CINDY SCHAEFER

— Annie’s Attic has been a staple in Cary for more than a dozen years.

But when store owner Rebecca Chapman suffered from health issues three years ago while also juggling a corporate job, she moved the women’s consignment business to her home.

Last month, Annie’s Attic returned downtown with a storefront on Chatham Street.

“I always knew I would open again,” Chapman said. “I have always loved this space. This is like home to me. I want downtown Cary to be successful. I am looking forward to seeing what else they do in downtown Cary.”

The store might seem more like a boutique than a thrift store. Inviting displays are framed by pieces of art.

“I hate chaos,” Chapman said. “I keep this neat, clean and organized with plenty of space to move around. If someone takes time out of their day to go somewhere, I want it to be an enjoyable experience. I want moms, daughters and grandmothers to all enjoy themselves. I don’t want a daughter sulking in the corner or a grandmother saying there’s nothing here she could wear. I want everyone to enjoy shopping here.”

Consignment is a sign of the economic times, Chapman said, noting that more and more people are realizing the benefits of recycling and re-use.

Chapman accepts consignment items by appointment only. Each piece must be in excellent condition, and she will not take lower-end labels.

“I do turn things away,” she said. “If it’s in their best interest to sell an item on Craigslist or eBay, I will tell them.”

But rejection doesn’t always sit well with clients. Chapman tells of a recent appointment where a potential seller brought in a spectacular collection of clothes, but it all reeked of cigarette smoke. The owner was furious when Chapman refused the entire batch.

“People get upset if you don’t accept their things,” she said.

Chapman said the notion that consignment is easy and quick money is far from the truth.

“This is a business that requires a lot of work and a lot of patience,” she said. “You have to love what you do. I love this, the interaction with clients and customers. It’s not about selling clothes. It’s about the relationships you build. I’m old school; a smile and a hello go a long way.”

She said she doesn’t have a lot of rules. “I have kept it simple through the years, and a lot of clients have come back. I’m happy about that.”

For now, Annie’s Attic is a one-woman operation. In May, however, Chapman expects to hire part-time help.

“I’m a very hands-on business owner. I like to know what’s going on, but this time I have realized the owner needs a break, too,” she said.

Do you know of a local business you’d like to see featured? Email carynews@newsobserver.com.

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