Beth Cosentino’s daughter Shanti, now in her 20s, spent a lot of her childhood in Wild Rose. Her playpen was set up in the store. Now, Emily Vamplew’s little Ella Rose will get a similar upbringing.
Cosentino is the founder and original owner of Wild Rose Consignment Clothing, now in its 25th year in business. It has been in the same Macdonell Street location, with the same business model, and the same basic product line for all those years.
“I’ve had consignors and customers bring their children into the store in a stroller,” Cosentino said. “And now those children are bringing their children in in strollers. I’ve seen a generation grow up. That’s shocking for me sometimes.”
Over the past three years, a gradual transition has been underway whereby Vamplew has been buying the business incrementally year after year. She now owns 75 per cent of it. The plan is for Cosentino to spend five more years at Wild Rose before retiring.
The business partners sat down in the store this week to talk about the exceptional longevity of a business that has sold only consignment clothing for women, clothing that women in the region seem not to be able to live without.
“It’s a huge accomplishment, the same location for 25 years,” said Vamplew.
“It is just so much a part of my life, my world and my routine, I haven’t really marked the years,” said Cosentino. “It just carries on.”
An in-store celebration to mark the milestone anniversary is planned for Saturday, Apr. 22, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Ondine Chorus, decked out in Wild Rose fashions, will perform. Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie will make an appearance, and there will be draws for gift certificates.
Cosentino opened the funky, always well-stocked store back in 1992, and dedicated it to her grandmother, Mary-Anne Cosentino, a beloved role model. There are framed pictures of the matriarch here and there in the store, a store that has always been a place to come for higher end fashions on a budget.
“I’m amazed to be a part of a business that has been here for 25 years,” said Vamplew, who has worked at the store for the past eight years. She attributes part of the stores success to accessible downtown parking near the 23A Macdonell Street location. Guelph City Hall, Guelph Farmers Market and The Basilica of Our Lady are close neighbours, so there are lots of people coming and going.
After finishing high school in Mississauga, Beth spent 10 years in Australia before returning to Canada in the early 90s. She said she wanted to live in a different kind of town, and start a different kind of business.
In her travels she took a liking to the consignment store idea. After one visit to Guelph she fell in love with the city, and this is where she built her business.
“Over the years, I bet we’ve had about 15,000 consignors,” Cosentino said. There are now about 6,000 on the active consignor list.
The business runs on a 60/40 split, the store getting the higher percentage when items sell. The owners said it is a better for someone with items to sell to consign rather than sell outright.
“It’s not as much risk for the store as buying outright, but people make more money this way,” Vamplew said.
The two owners were asked what they like about coming to the store each day. They simultaneously answered that it is “a home away from home.”
“It changes every day,” Cosentino said. “It’s not regular retail. We never know what’s coming in the door. It could be Christian Louboutin heels, a Prada or Gucci, or Banana Republic or J. Crew. We take better quality, higher end clothing, accessible to everyone. But we also get the higher end designer items, which is really exciting. There are new arrivals every day.”
The women added that they have a great many loyal customers, and they know them all on a first-name basis.
“It feels like a family,” Vamplew said. “Beth is my family, our customers and consignors are our friends.”
Cosentino said the store would likely not be the success it is without “the best landlord in the city.” Ron Valeriote, she said, has been exceptional to work with over the years.
One major change to the way Wild Rose does business is in its online component. The store now competes in an online marketplace, so it has to stay relevant and have a strong web presence.
“I feel like we are always changing,” Vamplew added. “It’s just slow, little improvements over time. We keep getting better and better. You have to keep up with the times.”