Rounder upon rounder punctuates the floor, each topped by a mannequin in a well-coordinated ensemble. The walls are embellished with dozens of colorful, top-of-the-line handbags. This is Déjà Vu Consignment Boutique.
Established in 1989, this women’s clothing store caters to customers ranging in size from double zero to plus. Current owner Amber Keech sat down with us to talk about buying the SE McGillivray Boulevard fixture and about its commitment to the community.
“It’s nice because we don’t cater to a single type of woman. I love it when daughter, mother, and grandmother come in because all three generations at one time can find their little niche anywhere from inexpensive to really high-end labels,” a smiling Keech relays.
Amber knows the customers because they have been the mainstay of her community since she was 16, when she began working at Déjà Vu. As a student at Mountain View High School, she was a Burgerville employee who signed up for a program that allowed her to work for credits rather than attend the final classes of the day. A hard worker like few others, Amber approached Mary Bushbaum, Déjà Vu’s owner, for a second job.
“I used to go into Déjà Vu with my grandma, and Mary would give me formal dresses to go home and play dress-up in,” Amber remembers. “She became a friend before I ever asked for a job.”
Amber began working at the shop when she was 16, and she purchased the store at age 20, when Mary chose to sell in order to deal with some health problems. It was important to Mary that the business continue and do so following in her footsteps. So she went to Amber, her employee and her friend.
“I was so scared that I didn’t tell a soul. None of the customers had any idea a transaction had even happened for about two years after that,” Amber explains. “I wanted to make sure I would be fully successful.”
Mary continued working in the store part-time and assisted Amber in learning the owner’s role. But Amber didn’t need any help learning about the customers. “Being there with a lot of the women that I’ve seen there for multiple years and having relationships with them and knowing their families and their needs, the business wasn’t really a business, it was a way of life,” Amber explains.
When asked about misconceptions people seem to have about the business, Amber pauses before mentioning shoppers who try to haggle over prices. She acknowledges that the business shares the intent of a traditional thrift store. “You are being thrifty by shopping there. You are saving your money. You are shopping smart,” she admits. But the fact remains that she is not running a charity shop. Her goods are not donated. “We’re still a regular store with a structure: rent, employees, supplies,” she explains. And the entire staff of the store works very hard to do right by all the people involved.
They are genuinely concerned with serving both those buying items and those consigning. This is why they have clear rules for consigning. People are invited to bring in 15 to 20 garments and accessories they have purchased in the last two years without making an appointment. Apparel must be on hangers, which will remain with the items. The condition has to be perfect. Déjà Vu consigns things seasonally, so the items in the store are always appropriate to the weather outside. Consigners agree to a 60-day period and 40 percent of the profit, which can be picked up in cash at any time.
These rules mean that shoppers have access to the best quality items at great prices. Brands carried include Chico, Banana Republic, Anne Taylor, Anne Klein, Ami, Kensi, Dooney and Burke, and Marc Jacobs. There are often sales, and racks with discounted items are always present. That may mean prices dip as low as a two or 10-dollar rack.
When items are not purchased or picked up by consigners, they are often donated. Every Sunday, Amber and her team gather up items to give to charity organizations. “We donate clothing every Sunday to four different non-profit organizations that have changed over the years, anywhere from FISH (Friends in Service to Humanity) or Treasure House in Camus, to women’s Dress for Success in Portland,” she recounts.
That’s not the only effort they make to improve their community. “We love to do little fashion shows. There are a lot of local communities – retirement homes and what not – who come to us and ask if they can have eight or so residents come in and pick out outfits. We go to their clubhouse and talk about each outfit and compare prices. It’s cool, just the interaction with people and being there for them and them being here for us is wonderful,” shares Amber. It’s refreshing to know dress-up is fun at any age.
Déjà Vu Consignment Boutique
16111 SE McGillivray Blvd in Vancouver
Open: Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday and Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.