Howie Mack: Dress Codes

Shop Girl by Kitty Kaufman

After a fit of spring cleaning some years ago, I lugged an armload to a small resale shop with an eye to recycling; you know, what's mine could be yours and so on. It was nice stuff, the buyer told me, but the skirts and tops were "dated" and so she turned me down.

She was right, of course. Resale is big business and these retailers are setting new standards when it comes to buying and selling. They buy only the best which means it's trendy (this season or last) and all of it comes with names you know at prices that make any full-price shopping immoral.

Sandy and Howard Porter, owners of Howie Mack on Commonwealth Avenue in Allston, know their labels. After ten years in the resale clothing business with Children's Orchard shops in Natick and Nashua, NH they know what sells and what doesn't. Howie Mack's not only hip but kid-friendly, mother/daughter apropos (ahem, young mothers) and a spot where men, fashion crazed or not, will find something they love.

Cool yes, attitude none. These guys are friendly and best of all, they pay well for your cast-offs. I watched as they plowed through two shopping bags of very stylish duds including several pairs of DKNY and Wilson leather pants, Paper Denim and Lucky jeans. They bought most of the seller's offerings, in cash, and what they thought wouldn't sell was politely handed back.

Resale is not consignment, which is when you get paid only if your stuff sells. The Porters buy your goods outright. In no time garments are on the racks neatly tagged with size, brand, and price. Both men's and women's styles are organized by style and color in a space that is big, well-lit and clean, with dressing rooms right up front. Gap jeans start at , Banana Republic at , and Lucky at . I saw reasonably priced Express, Eddie Bauer, J. Crew, Abercrombie, D & G (), Earl (), Izod, Kenneth Cole (), one pink men's Burberry polo for thirty bucks, and a snappy full-length women's rabbit fur coat (). There is a small assortment of nearly new shoes, knock-off Pucci scarves, handbags, jewelry, and new polar fleece jackets.

What if you're not sure which shirt looks good and if green is your color? Both the Porters and their young staff offer style suggestions for the fashion-challenged and the trendy-obsessed with equal enthusiasm. This personal service is just what you expect along with the perfect pair of jeans. P.S. This shop is closed.

© December 15,2004 - January 26, 2005 for The City Shopper
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