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Second-hand expansion adds to the “Paris” feel

By Dalhousie Gazette Staff

Looking for some extra money? Or maybe just to save on clothes? The Coast’s 2008 “Best Second Hand-Store” winner, Elsie’s, can help you with both. It’s a consignment store, meaning it will sell your clothes and give you 40 per cent of the profits.
Owner Maureen Elsie Court says she likes running the store based on consignment because it creates more choice for the customer.
“You get better stock and better clothes,” says Elsie. “I get to choose clothes from the best people who care about their clothes and spent a lot of money on them at one point.”
About 10 years ago, a friend offered Court the business and she took it.
“I needed a job and had a bit of experience in shopping,” she says with a laugh. “I just jumped at the chance and it felt like the right thing to do. I had confidence, interest, and it was just lucky.”
She says initially the second-hand clothing store didn’t mean too much to her, but over the years she has gained a greater appreciation for the business.
“Recycling clothes and what this store brings to the people and the downtown area, that’s what I like,” says Court. “We get a wonderful clientele and there’s now a lot of wonderful reasons. At first I didn’t know where it would take me.”
She says her store serves mostly younger to older women, but does sell men’s clothing as well. Most of the clothing is newer, but she says that she has a lot of ‘70s and ‘80s “retro” clothing too.
If you want a more vintage style, Elsie’s carries it too.
“I’ll take any piece of clothing that’s good!” says Court.
Amber MacDonald, a Community Design student at Dalhousie University says she tries her best to shop second-hand as much as possible.
“I buy a lot of second-hand T-shirts,” says MacDonald. “You always get the best ones at thrift stores.”
She thinks shopping second-hand is important in creating a sustainable society.
“A small change for people to take to live a more sustainable lifestyle is to try shopping in second-hand stores,” says MacDonald. “At least try.”
Elsie’s just recently expanded to include an upstairs area. Court says she needed more space because her store began to grow so quickly. She owes the growth to the economy. Since people began to worry about their money, Court says her accounts have kept getting bigger – faster.
“I think the trouble with the economy (has) made people think of selling their clothes,” says Court. “I began to run out of space.”
A troubled economy has led to more people wanting to save money. Selling clothes and also buying clothes used at a discounted place is a good way to not only help the environment, but help your wallet too.
Although her store is mainly focused around second-hand clothes, Court says she puts more effort into the environment of her store.
“I don’t care about the clothes as much,” she says. “The clothes just fills the racks but the environment here, the feeling people get when they’re here, that’s what I care about.”
Playing a range of music from indie and folk to Bob Dylan, Elsie’s is a place where people might go to escape the city.
She’s adding a bit of colour to the downtown area, Court says. Elsie’s provides an escape to the regulars.
“Sometimes people come in and say they feel like they’re in Paris!” she says.

Elsie’s is located at 1530 Queen St.


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