This business is one part beauty, one part fashion and one part culture, it really…
2nd Time Around
2nd Time Around
And a conversation with CEO, Kristin Kohler Burrows
Newer certainly doesn’t mean better. These days we are often sold short term products, largely because businesses make their money by upgrading or replacing what they sold you last year or last month. This is especially true in fashion and apparel. However, despite our disposable tendencies, I can honestly say that two of my favorite shirts were once owned by my grandfather. Some clothes just keep on giving, especially the good stuff.
For this reason, I love getting a deal on something really nice so when I learned that 2nd Time Around, the venerable high-end consignment shop on Newbury Street, was opening its very first Men’s store right here in Boston, I had to check it out.
Actually, I did one better. I interviewed their new CEO, Kristin Kohler Burrows, to find out exactly what to expect when visiting the new shop.
Why is now a good time for menswear at 2nd Time around?
There’s a few things at play right now. We are big believers that our brand proposition of offering curated brands and products at unbelievable prices is just as powerful for men as it is for women. Men’s apparel and accessories is definitely a hot space right now and it’s growing so we want to be a part of that. Also, we did have menswear in a few of our stores when I first joined but we stopped because I didn’t want to do it if we couldn’t do it right. So now with a dedicated space like with the second floor of our Newbury street location, I feel like we can finally do it right and it give it the customer experience that it deserves.
Boston is our home. We were founded in Newton Center so this is really where it all started for 2nd Time Around.
You are well known in this industry for turning around and growing brands like Keds, Bass and Converse. Are there similarities to those roles and your current one with 2nd Time Around?
People ask me if I’m a shoe person, a sportsperson or a sports apparel person but I’ve always define myself as a problem solver. I am somebody who loves to go into situations where there is potential to create brand and business value and there is a real need to figure out the path to get there. I love products and brands that are a motive rather than a utility. This role fits perfect for me in that there was an opportunity to unite a 40 store chain that was really operating differently at each location. There was no consistent branding or consignment procedures. Also, it’s not just figuring out the 2nd Time Around business but also cracking the code on why creating a consolidated chain of stores in the consignment space makes sense. Consignment is exciting because it’s timely and modern and there’s also the sustainability part of it that I love.
I feel like consignment is a bit of a lifestyle choice. Do you agree or is it more just a matter of educating the consumer and having the right products/brands?
I do feel like we are still at the early adopter phase of consignment shopping because you have to experience it to understand. Great brands at amazing prices is our lead-in line but once they interact with our team and understand the high touch customer service, people realize it’s also a great shopping experience. We have a loyalty program where customers can send me feedback right after shopping at one of our stores and it’s amazing how many people will tell me great things about our service, selection and price, not just one but all three.
What is the biggest challenge you face in breaking into the male market?
It’s continuing to promote both the benefits of shopping consignment and also the benefits of consigning with us. We rely on our consignors as our supply chain so it’s reminding people and celebrating the fact that you can monetize your closet. Your treasure today can be somebody else’s tomorrow and it can make you feel better about buying something at full price if you are going to consign a year or two years later.
Aside from price what are some other points of value that you believe 2nd Time Around offers to men?
Not only is our staff going to show you great brands and style items at fabulous prices but you can also come and enjoy a drink or sit down and charge your iPhone. If you come with your girlfriend and she wants to shop you can hang out and read the paper or a magazine. We are not only trying to create a compelling reason to buy our clothes but also to create an experience for the customer.
Traditionally what category of consignment clothing is most popular among male buyers?
We are still learning about male buyers but from early results I would say it’s tops, which is also true on the women’s side. I would expect also that accessories, like messenger bags will be very popular.
In your eyes what category of clothing offers the most room to grow in consignment?
Tops and also suiting. People are dressing less formal these days so when you do have a need to dress formally you might not be willing to invest as heavily because you won’t be wearing it that often. Accessories can also be huge as men are looking for pieces to define their style.
What brands do you look for when consigning?
Speaking specifically to the Boston store we may be looking to cater to men that have a more preppy style. So we may see a lot of Brooks Brothers or Vineyard Vines, whereas in New York City we may see more Theory or Rag and Bone. We also sell via social media and Instagram so we definitely want to cover our bases for men who may be shopping somewhere else.
How old is too old?
We look for apparel that is less than two years old.