When it comes to clothes, Sara Hobson says she's just like most women.
“I've always loved really nice things but I feel like it needs to be affordable.”
That's the idea behind Recycled Threads Consignment, which allows her to sell high-end clothing and other items at a fraction of retail prices, splitting the take with the original owners.
Think a pair of silver Manolo Blahnik D'orsay pumps for $150. Or a black strapless Bottega Veneta cocktail dress for $200. Or a woven, jeweled-encrusted Valentino bag for $400.
Rather than "used" clothing, Hobson said, "we liked to call it 'pre-loved.'"
Hobson started Recycled Threads seven years ago, not long after having her first child and leaving her job as a buyer at Lyndon's clothing store in Bradley Fair. Much of her original stock of consigned goods came from former Lyndon's customers.
Hobson stored the clothes at her home, staging a couple of multi-day pop-up shop sales each year in spaces such The Diver Studio on Commerce Street and a space in Clifton Square. She did even more business through the Internet.
About a year ago, she decided it was time to find a dedicated work space for her business. She knew she wanted to be in the Douglas Design District and found a second-floor space that the owner was planning to turn into an apartment. She convinced him to rent to her instead.
“I'd been like stalking this area for space," Hobson said. "I knew this was where I wanted to be.”
Her father helped transform the space into her vision of a very cool, very large closet, complete with some racks from the old Brick's clothing store, which closed a couple years ago.
"That was cool to bring that back to life," Hobson said.
Once she got her inventory into the place, friends and customers convinced her to open it to foot traffic on a regular basis. For now, she's open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the second Friday and Saturday of each month, as part of the district's 2nd Saturday event. She also opens by appointment. Hobson said she may add hours in the future.
Even with limited operating hours, Hobson said running the business is close to a full-time job. In addition to consignments, she works with some local stores to sell their overstock. She has also arranged with the Mark Arts center to sell clothing left over from its Rodeo Drive event.
Hobson said she's pretty critical about she will accept for consignment, rarely handling anything over two years old unless it's something like a vintage Celine dress. "Of course, you can't pass that up."
She warns consigners that items with slight imperfections may not bring a high price or may end up getting donated to Dress for Success.
Hobson's eyes light up as she talks about the Chanel handbags, Diane Furstenberg dresses, Current Elliott jeans and Jimmy Choo shoes she carries.
“I love seeing things like that, but there's something for everyone here," she said. "I've got a $10 sales rack. Women love that, which is important to me. I love a sales rack, too.”