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Store's an attraction for buyers and sellers
Cleaning out her closet inspired a local entrepreneur and Realtor to open a resale clothing boutique in downtown Fredericksburg

 Katie Abel (left) and The Boutique at Caroline Street's owner Detra Hagerman (right) discuss clothing that Abel plans to sell to the shop, which purchases clothes to resell.
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Date published: 3/16/2012

By Cathy Jett

CLEANING OUT HER closet gave Detra Hagerman the idea for a new retail store in downtown Fredericksburg.

As the entrepreneur and Realtor with Coldwell Banker Elite weeded out gently used or never worn clothing and accessories, she realized she had the makings of a resale shop.

"I thought, 'My gosh, I can't be the only one out there,'" said Hagerman, who supports recycling.

Inspired, she recently leased the former Deborah's Place at 726 Caroline St. and opened The Boutique at Caroline Street, a resale shop specializing in higher end women's and men's wear. Its tag line is, appropriately enough, "Turn Your Cluttered Closets into Cash!"

Unlike consignment shops, The Boutique buys items outright instead of taking them on consignment. Hagerman considers that a win-win for customers and the store. They know up front how much they can get--plus 20 percent more if they take store credit. And Hagerman and her staff don't have to mark items down on a strict timetable.

"It's less labor-intensive," she said.

Hagerman makes offers for items by appointment on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. She prefers designer and boutique items that are no more than 3 years old, and they must be in good condition.

"Tomorrow I have 10 appointments and I can't wait," she said recently. "Every time I open a bag, it's like opening a treasure chest. It's just fun. This is my fun job."

The labels Hagerman looks for range from sportswear by Nike, Under Armour and Liz Claiborne to boutique clothing from Ann Taylor Loft, Banana Republic and White House/Black Market to such couture names as Chanel, Gucci and Louis Vuitton.

She also buys gold and silver jewelry, designer handbags and other accessories, upscale or trendy home decor items and small, well-made furniture.

"When I was putting the store together, I was asked if we would carry men's clothing, so we have a section that has suits, ties, dress and casual shoes, pants, jackets and overcoats," Hagerman said. "That's a little slow going because people don't know we carry this so we don't have much traffic."

She said she plans to continue buying and selling men's wear for the next two months. If response doesn't improve, Hagerman may use that space in the 1,800-square-foot shop for more women's clothing.

"I would hate to do that, but we might not have a choice," she said.

Hagerman, who also owns Girls Night Inn in Nokesville and Mahogany Run Landscapes Inc. in Manassas, said she decided to open her newest business on Caroline Street because she loves shopping and dining in downtown Fredericksburg.

Being in real estate also opened her eyes to the vacant buildings there, she said, and she was wondering what she could do with one of them when she came up with the idea for her shop.

Her boutique already has developed a wide following. College students and people who work downtown have stopped in, as have workers getting off the VRE at the end of the day and women from Northern Virginia who are downtown to have lunch with their girlfriends.

"We've had a very good reception," Hagerman said. "Word is slowly getting out there."

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407
Email: cjett@freelancestar.com