Highlights » Lifestyle » Vol. 9

Upscale Consign Mint

By Meghan Ennes

Vitality asked Karen Bruinsma, owner of Upscale Consign Mint, how she finds running a business at her age. “It’s been a little stressful,” she says, “I’ve got a few more wrinkles than before.” But none of that stopped this passionate business-owner from starting anew at middle age; laid off by Thom McCann when it closed down several years ago, she snagged the opportunity to go to Quinsigamond Community College for her small business degree. Now she’s the proud owner of Upscale Consign Mint, located at 165 Grafton Street, just off I-290.

The merchandise at Upscale is top quality. Karen is extremely picky about what goes on the racks: “We are not a thrift shop,” she states in no uncertain terms. “We hand inspect every item in this store.” This is not your average, musty-smelling consignment shop ~ a vast majority of the merchandise has that fresh-off-the-rack quality that may surprise even the most skeptical shoppers.

In this two-room treasure trove (one for clothes, shoes, accessories, and small household decorations and the other for larger household items from furniture to paintings), you’ll find tops, bottoms, dresses, and coats that will satisfy any “Upscale” taste ~ names like Liz Claiborne, Chico’s, Donna Karan and more abound. In the men’s section, you’ll encounter a selection of jeans, sweaters, and even occasionally cufflinks or watches. And Karen raves about Upscale’s jewelry selection: “I just can’t hold on to it!” It’s easy to see why, with items ranging from sparkling occasion rings to a string of tinted violet pearls to several elegant vintage brooches. Upscale brings vintage shopping to an affordable place with a variety of period hats, bags, and gloves that are priced so that you could easily buy one of each to spice up and outfit you already have. Additionally, there are several Vera Bradley products, some trendy neck scarves, and racks of delicious purses for a more modern taste.

While its clothing selection is quite extensive, Upscale Consign Mint is one-stop shopping for plenty of odds and ends, too. Karen says she will sell anything as long as it’s in good condition, so you could shop here for just about anything ~ from exercise equipment to hiking boots to golf clubs. There are cases full of home items, like pottery, plates, and serving dishes in a variety of styles. Karen even plans to open a separate section of the store devoted entirely to furniture in the upcoming months. For additional décor, she sells original framed artwork. Small- to large-scale oil and watercolor paintings range from about $29-$169.

Not surprisingly with the current economic situation, Upscale is seeing more shoppers than ever before ~ and also a new brand of consigner. Karen tells us that people who used to donate to Salvation Army are now consigning, which means her customers will find higher quality merchandise still at relatively low prices. And if in the midst of spring cleaning you find a few items that are in good condition, don’t throw them away! It’s easy to become a consigner for Upscale ~ just set up an appointment with Karen. But act now ~ spring is one of the busiest times of the year for consignment shops, and inventory fills up quickly.

Though Karen is at Upscale around the clock, it’s a labor of love. “I’ve always had a good eye for these things,” she says. “I like to consider myself a professional shopper.”

It’s great to know that someone so passionate is fully dedicated to bringing such high quality merchandise to her clientele at Upscale. Before heading to the mall, do stop in and see Karen and the items she has selected for the store ~ chances are you’ll find something unique and beautiful for yourself or your home.


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