“Doll, that Chanel wallet has your name it,” says Kelsey Lake Forest owner Beverly Moran of the quilted red leather gem the customer is eyeing in the case. “There’s nothing like Chanel,” adds Moran with a reassuring nod. “And it’s a little easier to love when a piece like this is only $300.” Sold!
Kelsey Lake Forest is the first high-end consignment boutique to hang its shingle in Lake Forest’s Market Square, in the space formerly occupied by Three Sisters. “I’ve had my eye on the North Shore for sometime,” explains Moran, whose Lake Forest store hosted its grand opening last month. “I was in town around December and saw that this space was available and I jumped at the chance.”
Kelsey Lake Forest is the fourth boutique that Moran has opened, with her other locations in Glen Ellyn and Hinsdale. Her niche—luxe specialty clothing and accessories for women.
If you ask Moran, who hales from the Oak Brook area, how she got into this business, she’ll tell you that she’s never not been in it. “I’ve been consigning in one way or another since I was 14. I’ve always been interested in the hunt and finding things that you can’t buy at a regular store.” Mix this instinct for uncovering treasures with an inborn, ambitious, entrepreneurial streak—it’s no wonder that Moran has expanded the Kelsey brand (named after her daughter) to multiple locations in a span of only four years.
But there is one thing the Kelsey boutiques are not. “We’re not thrift shops,” emphasizes Moran, who had to close one of her stores when the high-end concept wasn’t resonating with the local clientele. “I’m looking for things that women can’t find anywhere else; special one-of-a-kind clothing and accessory pieces that will stand out in your closet. I’m pretty picky about what I will take.” All items Moran accepts for consignment must be current styles, present season, and like new. On our first trip to Kelsey Lake Forest, we were over-the-moon to see Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, Tory Burch, and Kate Spade in an array of spring and summer styles. What you likely won’t find are items from J. Crew, J. McLaughlin, or Talbot’s. “My goal isn’t to be a sales floor for these stores who already host great sales of their own,” says Moran, appreciative and respectful of her local competition.
But Moran’s pickiness ultimately pays off for her customers as she guarantees that all of her items are authentic and in pristine condition. “We don’t take a lot of chances here. If we accept your item on consignment, we’re almost 100 percent sure we can sell it.” Moran and her store’s stylists accept items for consignment on Thursdays (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and Saturdays (2 p.m. to 5 p.m.). And take note that Moran doesn’t employ simply sales people who can move merchandise—she takes special care in hiring women who can style outfits for visiting clientele.
Moran’s multiple locations give her the flexibility to move pieces from one place to another if she thinks it might be a better fit in one of her other stores. “When someone consigns with us, we’re committed to selling it. We will take care of your items and do our best to make the sale. We don’t just remove it from the floor or mark it down if it’s been with us for a certain amount of time.” Kelsey also only sells merchandise from their stores—there’s no online component as some consigners are known to do. (Although Kelsey regularly posts new in-store items on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and is willing to make the sale over the phone if you see something you like.) Moran also offers one of the highest sharing percentages in the consignment business—it’s even greater when you deliver the items to the stores. However, Kelsey will pick up items from a consignee if that’s a more convenient option for them.
Moran can barely stay in her seat to finish our interview as customers mill around her newest location. “I absolutely love what I do. There’s such joy in helping others discover that one thing they can’t find anywhere else.”
Kelsey boutiques are located in Glen Ellyn, Hinsdale, and Lake Forest. To learn more, visit kelseyresale.com.
– By Ann Marie Scheidler // Illustration by Kirsten Ulve