NEW ALBANY — For seven years, Mary Grinestaff was a loyal customer at The Clothes Cottage consignment shop on Charlestown Road in New Albany.
When she learned that the shop was going to close after 37 years of business, it didn't take long to realize that she was going to continue the tradition. This week, the New Albany resident is introducing a new consignment store in the same location.
The GEM Boutique & Consignment, LLC opened its doors Thursday at 2545 Charlestown Road, just a few months after Clothes Cottage owner Rita Naville closed the shop at the end of July. Although the shop has a new name and some updates, Grinestaff wants to keep the same shopping experience customers have enjoyed over the years.
"I think the community depended on Clothes Cottage," she said. "They depended on this to dress their families. So with us continuing that for them...we are keeping this as close to the way [Naville] had this as we can. She did a good job for over 30 years, so if it's not broke, don't fix it is our motto."
They gave the new shop a "tiny face lift" and a modern twist, and it is expanding the business to include children's clothing, formal wear and boutique items, she said. They are also planning to open additional shop space in the back of the building within the next two weeks.
GEM's grand opening should take place in September, according to Grinestaff. The store is is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
The consignment store offers seasonal items, including brand names such as Coach, Michael Kors and Nike at discounted prices. Prices typically range from $7.99 and $15.99 for items other than formal wear, and the shop is accepting new consignors at 50 percent commission.
"You can go to Chico's and something's $120, and you come in here and it's $10," she said. "You can wear nice clothes and look nice but not have to spend all that money."
Grinestaff joked that because of the shop's name, "women can come in here and shop and say they're going to the GEM, and their husband doesn't know if they're going to work out or shop."
"The name fits [Grinestaff] because she's a gem," GEM staff member Brenda Voyles said. "She's going to do well."
The shop will have several markdowns throughout a season, and if they have approval from consignors, they will donate leftover items at the end of the season to Center For Women and Families. They also plan to donate clothing for people who have faced a fire and/or home loss.
Grinestaff used to come to the Clothes Cottage almost every Wednesday and Friday, and she would buy an "insane" amount of clothes from the consignment shop. The shop's yellow tags probably covered three-fourths of her closet, she said.
"I got close to [the owners], and I just got used to coming here," she said. "I mean, if I was going to an event or anything, I was always coming in here to buy a whole outfit."
Grinestaff said just a few hours into the shop's first day, they already had plenty of customers stopping by, including former Clothes Cottage customers.
"They were happy that it is continuing," she said. "Everybody was sad that it was closing, so we're just happy that we're keeping it open."
Naville, who is 90 years old, will still work at the shop on some Saturdays. Many loyal customers would stop by Clothes Cottage every week, she said, and she hopes GEM will continue for at least another 37 years.
"I think it's a great service for the community," she said. "My consignors a lot cried when I left, and people said, 'where am I going to go to get my clothes?' They were going there all the time. I absolutely loved every day that I was there."