Style hunters’ bonanza
Savvy Chic shoppers find dream wardrobe — and a fashionable fundraiser
By Autumn D. F. Hopkins
Savvy Chic owner Deborah Patton and her daughter Danielle straighten the racks.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Savvy Chic has graced a demure but stylish storefront on Quarrier Street as part of the local fashion community for just over a year. But owner Deborah Patton’s vision is bigger than just a retail shop.
The store acts as the hub for all her creative, entrepreneurial fashion endeavors.
Patton has been doing what she coined “thrift-tiquing” since she was 14 years old.
She began by hunting for treasures with her grandmother in antique stores and thrift shops, always keeping an eye out for something unique and interesting. Although her career path took her into the high-tech field, when her husband’s job relocated them to Charleston, she decided it was time to pursue her love for style.
Inside Savvy Chic, shoppers can expect to find the fruit of Patton’s years of passion and experience: high-end fashion at frugal prices. Patton defines the “savvy” part of her store’s moniker as “being smart, knowing your price point and hunting down the fashion you want inside that budget.”
She said savvy customers will go to Nordstrom, or page through the fashion magazines, pick the style they want, and then come to her shop to re-create that look within their own budgets.
“When people find us, they’re excited to find we’re not cookie-cutter retail. We have everything, from J. Crew to Chanel, at price points everyone can afford.”
The one-of-a-kind blend of new boutique styles, consignment pieces and vintage clothing and accessories keep the store interesting and fresh, Patton said. They receive new merchandise weekly from many sources, including consignment clients from six states.
Patton’s daughter Danielle, on hand for a recent interview, normally resides in Atlanta. She acts as one of Savvy Chic’s buyers, sourcing merchandise and sending it back to her mother.
Patton also has scouts in other states and personally travels twice a month on buying trips to place like Dallas, Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., assuring customers that they will find outfits unique in Charleston.
“Once they find us, they come back,” said Patton of the loyalty inspired by finding something outside the usual retail fare. “We keep it interesting.”
But a unique shopping experience isn’t the only draw. Patton also offers a personal shopping service for clients who don’t have the time or inclination to shop on their own. Currently, she shops for roughly 18 customers. If someone is interested in the service, they can call and set up a consultation.
Another of Patton’s fashion services is something she called a “closet revamp.” It’s a two-hour free service where she will come to your home and sort through your closet, organizing it into four categories: donate, consign, keep or buy, a category for items she is willing to buy outright.
“We’re good at this,” she said. “We can go in, take a look and sort it quickly and efficiently.”
She said clients are often so impressed with this service that they will ask her to look through other items they have on hand. She warned: Anything over the two-hour service costs $25 an hour, but, she said, clients are often more than willing to pay to have things organized and taken care of.
One of the benefits of shopping at Savvy Chic is the assurance that high-end items purchased, like vintage handbags and accessories, have been authenticated by a third party, Patton assured.
“If someone brings in, say, a Louis Vuitton bag and they can’t produce the sales receipt or some other form of verification, then we send it to an authentication service.”
If the bag is found to be authentic, Patton will take it on consignment for 60 days.
At the end of that term, if it hasn’t sold, the client has the option to pick it up or donate it to charity in exchange for a tax receipt.
This takes the guesswork out of shopping for Patton’s clientele, and assures her reputation for quality.
“I have to be able to say it is 100 percent real,” she said.
Giving back and raising money for charity are important aspects of being part of the local fashion community for Patton. The desire to help support local causes is what led her to create the first annual “Look Good, Do Good” event, to be held March 8. Items for “Look Good, Do Good” are donated by Patton and her clients.
Tickets are $40 and entitle the holder to entry to the event and three items of their choice: one coat; one dress, blouse or skirt; and one accessory. Tickets for “Look Good, Do Good” go on sale Tuesday.
Attendees will be allotted one vote per ticket, and the charity with the most votes will receive proceeds from the event.
During the event there will also be a silent auction of four luxury items to raise additional funds for the winning charity. This event, the first of its kind in Charleston, promises to be an exciting time and a great way to help out a good cause and score a few fantastic wardrobe pieces in the process.