Retail 101: The Toggery

Photography by Kelsey Matthias

Kristen Sweeney has been the general manager of The Toggery for over twenty-two years.The Toggery is a resale boutique located in Broad Ripple, IN. Housing thousands of carefully curated items that reflect the store’s endearing and eclectic style, The Toggery proves that style and sustainability go hand-in-hand. Check out our latest retail Q+A for some insight into the resale fashion business. Follow The Toggery on Instagram and Facebook, visit their website, or shop in person at 1810 Broad Ripple Ave. 

What do you sell in your store?
The Toggery is a resale boutique/consignment shop. People bring their clothes in and then we sell them for them.

How long have you worked here?
I’ve been with the store for twenty-two years.

What distinguishes you as a storefront?
We wanted to stand out without eclectic style. We carry a lot of super unique pieces, which sell super well for us. We are known to have some vintage designer pieces as well. Our main priority is to look for those really special pieces that are going to brighten somebody’s day. Additionally, we have something for everybody here at any price point. If you want to pick up something for one dollar we have it, and if your price point is 500 dollars, we have it as well.

Can you describe the process when someone brings in clothes to sell?
People can bring their things from Tuesday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., and we do accept things on hangers ready to wear. We’ll go through your things while you’re here and then select the pieces that we think we can sell and give you back the things we can’t sell. Then, we get the clothing processed and on the racks. We try to sell each item for sixty days, and we go through about 2,000 items a week.

What are some skills/expectations that you think are important to have before launching or managing a storefront?
It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work. Even though you might have a bad day, you never know what’s going to come through the door the next day. There could be a great product, or a new designer with a great product, coming through your doors just as much as there could be a dud piece. You never know what you’re going to find. Don’t give up, stay determined, and try to keep things fun. If you stress about the little things it can really bring you down. Never give up and don’t take things too seriously.

What is one thing that the fashion/design community can do in Indianapolis to help grow an audience?
The most important part of what we do is we recycle the clothes. We rehome them. It’s about not producing so much waste–in regards to the amount of clothing and textiles that go into our landfill. I think there’s a certain opinion about consignment clothing, that maybe it’s dirty, and that’s not the case at all. We get new things in with tags that people have never worn before every day.

What’s more important when opening a storefront: location, having a nice cash cushion, or having a lot of retail experience? Why?
Location is the most important thing when looking to start your business. You want to make sure you are visible and easy to get to. Ask yourself if your location is in an area that supports your business vision. You can always build up a cash cushion, and experience will just come on its own, but you cannot easily change the location of your business

Do you work with vendors on a consignment basis?
We currently are not working with any local vendors on a consignment basis, but we have done so in the past.

Do you carry any local vendors/brands? 
We carry all sorts of brands from high-end designers, to the big box stores, to local vendors. That’s the beauty of consignment!  We see it all–some really amazing and unique pieces!

What’s the biggest challenge you face in running this business?
The biggest challenge I face in running this business is keeping a balance between all the things that need to be done. I have to remember to let go of the little things, and not be too serious. Laughter is a must throughout the day for me. Having a great and supportive team behind me is definitely key to keeping it all going. 

What advice would you give to an up-and-coming brand looking to build a strong relationship with a retailer?
My advice to an up-and-coming brand would be to stay strong and don’t give up. Rejection can be hurtful, but you can’t let that ruin your spirit. It takes time to grow a business so starting small is the first step in planting the seed. With a lot of hard work, networking, and exposure, that seed will blossom into a big beautiful flower! 

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