Used-clothing outlet expands to Ohio, keep Internet presence
Popularity and demand for fashion-focused, second-hand clothing is expanding, according to Stuart McLean, who wants to grow his business to take advantage of the trend.
To do that, McLean this week closed his upscale used-clothing outlet Avalon Exchange in Mt. Lebanon and is moving fixtures and inventory to a new store in the Cleveland suburbs.
McLean, who co-owns the Squirrel Hill-based chain of second-hand shops with his wife, Tammy Thurston McLean, said the 3,000-square-foot store at 680 Washington Road is moving to Lakewood, Ohio, a suburb of about 52,000 people on Cleveland's western border.
The store in Mt. Lebanon had been profitable, but sales and growth had leveled off. So McLean said he will now focus on expanding in the Cleveland area, on a designer fashion resale website the couple has started and the possibility of expanding to other cities.
“The (Mt. Lebanon) area didn't grow as much as we hoped. It got to a certain level and stayed there,” McLean said. “Maybe at a different point in my career I would have kept it open.”
He said he has no plans to close the Squirrel Hill Avalon Exchange on Forbes Avenue, which McLean said did twice as much business as Mt. Lebanon in a smaller space.
“We're going to be here forever,” he said.
In addition to the Squirrel Hill location, Avalon has branches in St. Louis' Delmar Loop neighborhood and the Coventry Village area of Cleveland Heights, a suburb on the eastern side of Cleveland. Stuart McLean is a partner in Reddz Trading, a second-hand shop in Washington's posh Bethesda suburb.
Last summer, he and his wife joined Lindsay Williams Kress, a former buyer for ModCloth.com — an originator in the online sale of fashionable second-hand clothing — to start an online-only store for second-hand designer clothes and accessories at Glossimer.com.
Users of that website send photos and descriptions of designer-label goods they'd like to sell to Tammy McLean and Kress. The company then picks up the cost of shipping to Pittsburgh, inspects the goods and sends back 50 percent or more of the resale value. McClean and Kress then photograph the goods in a studio they set up in Squirrel Hill, and resell the goods online. Business was slow at first, but transactions have picked up in the past two months, Tammy McLean said.
“Luxury goods had a surge this year, and ... there isn't anyone out there who's already nailed that market for selling online,” Kress said. “When you're selling this stuff on eBay, you have really high fees for luxury goods and you have to be your own customer service department.”
Unlike ModCloth, where Kress was the seventh full-time employee, Glossimer.com is focused purely on designer items and resale, she said.
San Francisco-based ModCloth, which was founded by a pair of Carnegie Mellon University graduates and has a large presense in Pittsburgh, began by reselling vintage items before branching out into new, vintage-inspired goods.
Stuart McLean plans to travel to Houston this year, where he hopes to scout new locations for Avalon Exchange or Reddz Trading. He mentioned the possibility of expanding Reddz to another location in Washington.
With seasonal help being let go and student employees returning to school, only two regular employees at the Mt. Lebanon Avalon were laid off as a result of the store's closure. A manager there is being transferred to Squirrel Hill, Tammy McLean said.
“The store was apparently performing, but (McLean) is putting his resources and time elsewhere,” said Eric Milliron, Mt. Lebanon's economic development officer. The bright side, he said, was that Avalon's closing would open up a large contiguous storefront — the kind of space that's hard to find in Mt. Lebanon's built-out Uptown business district.
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Matthew Santoni to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- In 10 years as public company, Google has reshaped IPO landscape, more
- Stock surge pushes S&P 500 to record
- Indian firm plans exports of ethane from U.S. shale fields
- Energy sector powers Pa. pace
- UPMC earnings turn positive, but pressures mount
- Cash stash bolsters U.S. Steel
- Kennametal’s CEO to retire at yearend
- Airlines expand profits by adding seats — but not more planes
- Sales, profit fall at retailer American Eagle Outfitters
- EDMC to cut costs, roll out new grant
- Berkshire socked with $896K penalty