Style hunters’ bonanza

Savvy Chic shoppers find dream wardrobe — and a fashionable fundraiser

Danielle Patton straightens accessories surrounded by vintage and high-end treasures found at Savvy Chic, a boutique on Quarrier Street.

Danielle Patton straightens accessories surrounded by vintage and high-end treasures found at Savvy Chic, a boutique on Quarrier Street.

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.

Savvy Chic owner Deborah Patton and her daughter Danielle straighten the racks.

Savvy Chic owner Deborah Patton and her daughter Danielle straighten the racks.

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.

Gazette photo by Kenny Kemp

One of Savvy Chic’s huge display windows is reminiscent of a bygone era of downtown shopping. Patton keeps her windows fresh, updating and changing her displays on a regular basis.

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.

Comprehensive Inventory

katespadeHere is a sample of popular designer fashions frequently available in Savvy Chic’s inventory:

Ann Taylor, Anna Sui, Alice + Olivia, Anthropologie, Badgley Mischka, Banana Republic, BCBG Maxazria, Betsey Johnson, Bloomingdales, Burberry, B. Makowsky, Cynthia Rowley, Chanel, Christian Louboutin, Christian Dior, Carolina Herrera, Coach, Cole Haan, Dana Buchman, Diane Von Furstenberg, Dolce & Gabbana, DKNY, Donna Morgan, Escada, Etcetera, Fendi, Free People, Frye, Carlisle, French Connection, Gucci, Hype, INC, J Brand, J Crew, Jimmy Choo, Juicy Couture, Jones New York, Kate Spade, Kensie, Kooba, Lamb, Lilly Pullitzer, Lacoste, Laundry, Louis Vuitton, Longchamp, Lucky Brand, Madewell, Manolo Blahnik, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Muse, Nicole Miller, Oscar de la Renta, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Rock & Republic, Rebecca Minkoff, St. John, Stuart Weitzman, Tahari, Talbots, Theory, Tod’s, Tory Burch, Tracy Reese, Trina Turk, True Religion, Tibi, Tulle, Tweeds, UGG, Vera Wang, Van Eli, Via Spiga, Vince, Vivienne Tam, White House Black Market, and Zac Posen just to name a few.

Come in for a uniquely Savvy shopping adventure, you never know what you may find!!

New Charleston shop recycles clothes, revamps closets

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — She may have a Kate Spade coat and a Vera Wang dress on the display racks, just don’t describe SavvyChic as an upscale boutique and consignment shop.

Deborah Patton made it clear that she wants her new shop on Quarrier Street to attract all walks of life.

She gestured toward a rack of coats. “There’s leather, suede, coats for high school kids, business suits. I want everybody to be comfortable shopping here,” she said.

Patton opened her shop Nov. 2 in the space beside the House of Luxe that once contained Oberlin’s clothing store.

At age 52, she said she is finally doing what she has always loved — working in clothes and fashion.

She moved to Charleston two years ago when her husband, Charles, was named president and chief operating officer of Appalachian Power. Her daughter, Danielle, just graduated from college and is living in Atlanta. Son David is a senior at George Washington High School.

“Now that we’re stable and not moving again, it’s finally time to do what Deborah wants to do,” she said.

She worked in retail during and after college, and has helped others start up businesses. She was used to living in cities that had more than one large mall and lots of small, trendy boutiques. She said she saw a niche here for a shop that offered a variety of items at reasonable prices.

A Christian Dior handbag on sale at SavvyChic. Photo by Chris Dorst

A Christian Dior handbag on sale at SavvyChic. Photo by Chris Dorst

SavvyChic is unique, she said, in that it offers new merchandise carefully chosen on buying trips to New York, Atlanta and Dallas as well as gently used consignment pieces obtained in Charleston and eight other cities.

“We’ll do closet revamps,” Patton said. “We’ll go through your closet with you and take the consignment items to the shop or will package the items to take to donate.”

If a customer isn’t interested in selling her clothes, Patton said SavvyChic will sell them and use the proceeds to donate to a charity, such as a women’s shelter or food bank. The customer receives a tax write-off for making the donation.

“Our mantra is to give back,” she said.

She explained how the consignment system works. Lady X drops off items — clothes, shoes, hats, purses, jewelry, scarves — and gets a receipt for the number left. Patton then gets on her computer and researches online sites to determine the value of the piece and to set a selling price.

Once the item is sold, SavvyChic keeps 60 percent and Lady X gets 40 percent. On items sold for more than $100, the split is 50-50.

She sends out checks twice a month to those whose items have been sold. A special computer program designed just for retail consignment shops “has made life so much easier” in keeping track of what item belongs to what seller.

And in cases of “absolutely fabulous finds,” Patton said she will pay cash to the seller.

She considers the Kate Spade coat in that category. The same coat sells on several online sites from $1,200 to $1,400. The price tag on the one hanging in SavvyChic last week read $375.

“People come in and are shocked at the price point,” she said.

For instance, she pulled off the rack a Trina Turk pantsuit. “Online it’s over $200. Here’s it’s $69. That’s reasonable. You can still look great and not go broke in the process.”

Patton also carries vintage clothing, which she defined as clothes from the 1930s to the 1980s.

One such piece in the front of the shop, where Patton said she showcases her boutique items, was a soft faux tiger walking coat for $79.

She said most of the pricing is in the $22-to-$70 range. For items costing more than $100, SavvyChic has a 30-day layaway program — yet another service she said many stores don’t offer.

Patton believes her new venture complements the other nearby antique, consignment and vintage shops and hopes SavvyChic will contribute to revitalizing the downtown. She said longtime city residents have visited the shop and pointed out what stores used to be where and talked about how vibrant the downtown used to be.

Meeting those residents is what she likes about the retail business. “This is something I can enjoy doing and not think of it as work,” she said about her shop.

SavvyChic, 817 Quarrier St., is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Phone 304-344-9499

Reach Rosalie Earle at earle@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5115.

Closet Revamps

This 2-hour service is free to all Savvy Chic Consignors, $25/hour for non-consignors.

Savvy Chic will come to your home to help you with your own fashion make-over designed to update your wardrobe or even redefine your own personal style. All decisions are yours to make, we only help you gain the confidence to make the needed changes that will lead to fashion success.

Get in on the giving, schedule a Closet Revamp for a good cause.

HOW IT WORKS

Schedule an appointment for an at-home or in-store visit. Tues-Thurs. 8-10 a.m. or 6-8 p.m. Decide what you want to get from this experience. A CLOSET REVAMP WILL ASSIST YOU IN: Letting go of those clothes and accessories that no longer fit your lifestyle and fashion; Mixing and matching items in your closet in ways maybe not previously considered; and Refreshing existing outfits with restyling, or new accessories. Open your closet, and your mind to fun and fashion!

Look Good – Do Good

Join Savvy Chic in giving back to the community. Donate merchandise for consignment and designate the proceeds go to local charities. Savvy Chic will also donate inventory to local shelters and clothing banks providing clothing for those trying to get back on their feet. Get in on the giving, schedule a Closet Revamp for a good cause.