NEWTOWN BOROUGH >> A new, beautifully-appointed upscale consignment store has opened its doors on North State Street next to the Grapevine Natural Grocery store.

“Dress to the 9’s Consignment Boutique,” named after its numerical address on North State Street and its higher end merchandise, opened June 5, the day Bucks County officially entered the yellow phase of the Governor’s COVID-19 reopening plan.

The store is the creation of Newtown resident and Bucks County native Debbie Haines who rented the space in early March and was preparing to open the store when the pandemic suddenly took hold, closing businesses, workplaces and restaurants throughout the region.

The pandemic and the resulting shutdown forced her to delay her planned April opening until June 5, a time she used efficiently to collect consignments at home, clean clothing, price it for sale and prepare it for eventual sale at the store.

“I called everyone I knew and said while we are quarantined go through your closets and find some nice things for my consignment store. And that’s what they did. All through March and April I got a lot of fabulous inventory because of that,” said Haines.

Operating under the slogan, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” the new boutique is now open and stocked with both women’s and men’s gently-used clothing and accessories from teens on up.

“At Dress to the 9’s you will be shopping in a clean, pleasant atmosphere for upscale clothing in excellent condition,” said Haines, a native of Yardley and Pennsbury graduate.

“A lot of the clothing is coming in with the original tags on them,” added Haines. “The shoes and handbags are worth the trip. They are barely used. I have a lot of shoes that were never worn coming in their own boxes.”

The store’s inventory includes a wide selection of clothing (workout clothes to formal wear) and accessories from a myriad of fashion houses and stores, including Talbots, Anne Taylor, Old Navy, Gap, Louis Vuitton (handbags), Jimmy Choo (shoes), Dooney & Bourke, Lululemon, Michael Kors, St. John Collection, Babette Clothing, Reese Witherspoon's Draper James, among others.

Of course a nice selection of clothing and accessories deserves to be accentuated by a complimentary environment. So Haines has created a suitable setting to showcase her merchandise and to bring joy to all those who step through the front door.

“It’s a very unique and beautiful store,” said Haines. “This is unlike any other consignment store around. To me, most consignment stores look like thrift stores. I didn’t want it to look like that. I wanted it to be welcoming and inviting, comfortable and a really pleasant experience to shop in.

“Why does Chanel have to be the only kind of store that is gorgeous inside and pleasant to shop? Why can’t my consignment shop be that way because I am carrying clothes that are equivalent to the high-end stores?” said Haines. “That’s the stuff people are giving me - the high-end designer clothes in really good condition. My thought is they deserve a beautiful place to be shown.”

The store is a second career for Haines who retired in 2019 after 40 years as a physical therapist, including the last 10 years as the owner/operator of Spring Mill Ivyland Physical Therapy in Northampton Township.

A former Blue Bell resident, after retiring Haines returned to college to study Italian with the idea of traveling to Italy. “My thought was I’m retiring. I’m still footloose and fancy free. I’m going to travel.”

But over Christmas vacation, while visiting family in Saranac Lake, New York, and speaking with her niece who owns her own consignment store, she decided it might be fun to open up her own consignment store.

“She makes it look like fun and easy to do,” said Haines. “So I’m thinking that while I’m studying Italian I could sit there and socialize with people. Well, I had to be nuts for thinking that.

“But in January I started seriously thinking about it and in February everything began coming together,” she said. “I found an empty store and rented it. Now here we are.”

Her longer term plans for the store include turning it into a social gathering place for the community where customers can sit and socialize.

Haines, a former music major at Bucks, has even brought a piano into the store with hopes of eventually having evening wine and cheese recitals by music majors and faculty from the BCCC. She’s also thinking about having yoga classes in the evening after store hours.

“I really want to bring the community together to socialize and enjoy themselves,” said Haines.

Of course, all those plans are on temporary hold until the pandemic runs its course and people again feel safe to gather and to socialize in public.

In the meantime, the store is open but customers are asked to wear masks, clean their hands with sanitizer when they come in and if they try on clothes to keep their masks on and not let their breath touch the clothing.

Limits are also being placed on the number of customers who can be in the store at one time and customers are asked to social distance when inside.

Haines is currently accepting consignments, which can be dropped off at the store Tuesday to Friday from 11 am to 5 pm. Consignments will not be accepted on Saturdays. If those hours don’t work, call to make an appointment.

“Instead of throwing it out or letting it hang there for 20 years, recycle it. Let somebody else wear it,” said Haines. “There is so much waste in the clothing industry that we need to find ways to use that clothing instead of wasting it and throwing it out.”

Haines said she’ll take anything from workout clothes to formal wear.

“I know a lot of women have gorgeous dresses in their closets that they bought for a wedding or a special occasion and wear them once and now they are sitting in the closet,” she said. “Because it was an expensive dress, they don’t want to throw it out or donate it. I wanted to give them an outlet to pass it on to somebody else and make some money from it.”

Haines said she’s also now accepting fall and winter clothes as she prepares for the changeover from summer to fall fashions.

Big sales are scheduled for the first two weeks in August as she closes out the season. The store will then be closed as she changes over to fall and winter. “By Labor Day it will be the fall clothing line,” she said.

“Dress to the 9’s Consignment Boutique” is located at 9 North State Street, Newtown 18940. Store hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The store is closed on Sunday and Monday. For information, call 215.944.8907, visit dresstothe9sconsign.com or email deborah.hainespt@msn.com

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