By Erin Crowell
From the sidewalk, Zany Consignment Boutique looks like any other home in Traverse Citys Slabtown a yellow two-story house with green shutters. Dismiss the sign and hours posted as you walk through the door, and you pause in the covered porch, wondering if you had mistakenly entered a residents home.
Inside, its like raiding a girl friends closetand a stylish one, at thatbut this closet has trickled downstairs, lining entire walls and filling every room. Other friends are over, too swapping a skirt for a blouse or a pair of heels for a vest.
Consignment stores are good business regardless of the economy. Customers like to be able to make cash by selling their clothes or by exchanging it for something new. For some, its like a revolving door, said Kate Kohler, owner of the downtown Traverse City boutique.
While there are other consignment stores in the area, Zany stands out as the most stylish in Grand Traverse County, as voted by Express readers in the 2011 Readers Choice Survey.
FUN AND FUNKY
Located just behind Sleders Family Tavern on the west end of town, also known as the Slab town District, Zany Consignment Boutique sells and exchanges ladies clothing, shoes and jewelry, along with home décor and specialty items.
Just the layout of the store is fun and funky, said Ramona Pleva, a regular at Zany. Its different every time you come in.
Immediately customers will notice a difference in clothing selection at Zany. While many consignment stores will except just about anything wearable, Zany specializes in eclectic and designer clothes.
We focus on the stuff that will make you feel good, said Kohler. We carry higher end brands that are casual and funky.
Items include floral skirts and cocktail dresses, shoes from Nine West, Steve Madden and Anne Klein, Elizabeth Arden perfume, blouses from J. Crew and Banana Republic, along with designer denim and handmade jewelry.
What youll find at Zany depends mostly on the season.
Fall and spring are busy times for us because people are shifting their wardrobe, continued Kohler. A lot of it depends on volume, style and what we have in season.
While customers range from 60 year olds to mothers bringing in their teen daughters, most clientele are between the ages 30 and 40, said Kohler.
DRIVEN BY PASSION
Before she opened Zany seven years ago, Kohler had very little experience in retail. Originally from Stockbridge, Michigan, she moved to Traverse City to work as a massage therapist at the Grand Traverse Resort
Ive always loved fashion and knew I wanted to open my own store, she said, and I felt Traverse City was missing a niche in specialty consignment.
Kohler rented a small space next to Tilleys Party Store, running the business during the day and doing massage therapy at night, before moving to the current space three years ago.
Id say passion has really helped it succeed, she said.
With a staff of up to five people, Zany remains a steady business in an otherwise shaky economy; and while Kohler said she has no plans to expand anytime soon, the continuous stream of customers through her front door makes it a possibility.
Theres something special about being in one place, she said.
Zany Consignment Boutique is located at 318 Vine St. in Traverse City. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, noon-5 p.m. Call 933-4199 or visit them online at zanyconsignment.com.