Luxury consignment shop thrives in Lincoln Park
Published: Friday, May 4, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
Take a stroll in Lincoln Park, past the intersection where Halsted Street meets Webster Avenue, past a gated playground where kids zoom down a red slide and southbound toward Dickens Avenue. Here, you will find eDrop-Off, a place where Chicago’s fashionistas go to cleanse their closets and everyday people can get a taste of designer merchandise at prices that are recession-proof.
Corri McFadden, 30, the brains and beauty behind the brand, turned her senior project — a business plan for a luxury consignment eBay store — into the nation’s premiere online luxury consignment destination.
“eDrop-Off first started as a traditional eBay auction store. I sold everything from electronics to Beanie Babies,” McFadden said. “But I had a larger vision and worked to pioneer my own niche in reselling designer and luxury items.”
Since its inception in 2004, McFadden said eDrop-Off has sold more than 200,000 items, raking in over $3 million in sales last year. From designers, buyers and boutique owners to soccer moms who have dreamed of getting a piece of Chanel in their closet, or students who love designers items but cannot afford designer prices, eDrop-Off’s clientele is diverse.
The company operates in three capacities — its Lincoln Park storefront (2117 N. Halsted St.), Gold Coast pop-up shop (1155 N. State St.) and its online arm — bringing shoppers into the closets of the world’s most fashionable women. Shoppers participate in a week-long auction, bidding on and trying to buy new or gently-used luxury clothes and accessories from the likes of fashion staples, such as Chanel, Balenciaga and Valentino and budding fashion brands, such as Tory Burch. The idea is simple: Some women get to clean their closets, making way for the latest season’s styles, while others get the opportunity to experience the joys of luxury designer items without the guilt of expensive costs.
“It’s better to turn anything that has been taking up closet space but you never wear into cash and use that cash for something you can actually use,” McFadden said.
McFadden, who grew up in Kansas City, Kan. and now resides in Chicago’s Gold Coast community, houses her business out of the brick-and-mortar shop in one of Chicago’s chicest neighborhoods: Lincoln Park.
“Lincoln Park is an amazing neighborhood and serves as a central hub to our client base,” McFadden said.
Recently, the company expanded its coverage with a pop-up shop in the Gold Coast. McFadden said the expansion aimed to accommodate the growing needs of eDrop-Off’s growing clientele
“We heard the requests from our clients and felt it was a good choice for the business, as well as convenient for our clients,” McFadden said.
Along with expanding the company’s physical locations, McFadden and her 37 mostly female staff starred in a reality series on VH1, entitled “House of Consignment.”
“I was cold called from a production company out in Los Angeles who saw an editorial in CS Magazine about the business, and they felt it would be a good fit for reality TV,” McFadden said. “With that production company I filmed a pilot, and VH1 … bought the pilot and turned us into ‘House of Consignment.’”
Since the show’s premiere on March 21, McFadden and eDrop-Off have been plastered everywhere.
“It is pretty exciting,” McFadden said. “I am extremely proud of the business I have built and the dynamic eDrop-Off team.”
While McFadden is excited about the growth of eDrop-Off and her new status as a fashion luminary in the city, stemming from “House of Consignment,” she said receiving “letters from girls who have seen the show and are inspired” has inspired her.
The show introduced fans to the behind-the-scenes operations of eDrop-Off and the private lives of McFadden and a few cast members, including Jena Gambaccini, eDrop-Off’s social media coordinator and a native of Northbrook, Ill.
Gambaccini is one of the breakout stars from “House of Consignment,” but she said the show has not changed her life much.
“I wouldn’t say it’s changed my personal life at all. I would just say at work for everyone, not just me, we’re just so much busier,” Gambaccini said.
While being on the show did not change Gambaccini’s life, it did indeed shift her position within the company, bringing her more to the forefront of the consignment shop’s increased social media presence.
“The more day-to-day operations have been crazy. Our web traffic has significantly increased. Our Facebook fans and Twitter followers have increased. So I just feel even more obligated to be more interactive. It’s all been great,” Gambaccini said.
eDrop-Off was Gambaccini’s first job after she graduated from Miami University in Ohio with a bachelor’s in marketing. Erin Brennan, eDrop-Off’s brand manager, said she noticed Gambaccini when she came across her blog, ChiCityFashion, and a post she wrote featuring eDrop-Off.
“[Jena] was a blogger and still is a blogger. I reached out [to her] shortly after we moved to the Halsted location. I wanted to give her a tour and show her what we did here, and I think she was intrigued when she saw the back office operations and how much we really do sell,” Brennan said.
While the show has yet to be renewed for a second season, it has garnered eDrop-Off a lot of attention for its transparent presentation of the struggles of an industry often deemed glamorous. It is stories like Gambaccini’s that McFadden believes are important for viewers, especially young girls watching the show, to see.
“The purpose of doing ‘House of Consignment,’” McFadden said, “was to expose the service on a national level as it is something that everyone essentially needs, as well as inspire girls and let them know that anything is truly possible.”