Trilogy Consignment joins Nyack's thriving business district


Trilogy Consignment joins the Nyack merchant community with a mission: Take discerning shoppers ‘back to the future’ -- bringing joy back to the shopping experience, giving new life to stylish pre-owned goods at affordable prices, and supporting the future of the planet through business practices grounded in sustainability.

Trilogy Consignment opened at 5 South Broadway in Nyack on March 20 of this year. The name, meaning ‘three connected works of art,’ aptly describes Trilogy’s wares: classic clothing, shoes, accessories, and jewelry in three connected categories -- vintage, modern and artisanal. All items are carefully selected from consignor offerings with a goal of encouraging people to enjoy the value of quality goods while helping reduce the waste and environmental damage caused by the fashion industry. “The Trilogy philosophy combines sustainability with the art of fashion and a return to the true pleasure of shopping,” said Trilogy owner Heather Reid. “We give customers space to browse, explore, find unique pieces and try them.” "I host a seamstress in my shop once a week,” added Reid. “She helps customers assess a garment and make alterations as needed – giving shoppers the opportunity to buy a piece they truly love and fit it to suit them.”

The seamstress accepts any alteration work, whether garments are purchased at Trilogy or elsewhere. The alteration schedule is posted on the Trilogy website. More than a simple convenience, this service is part of Trilogy's larger purpose and direction.

Trilogy joins Bare Minimum Goods, Maria Luisa Boutique and other Nyack merchants that incorporate sustainability into their sourcing and operational strategies.

“Consignment is one step toward addressing the growing problem of waste,” said Reid. “It increases appreciation for the value and longevity of well-made products, and includes recycling and donation as equally important components of the business model.”

“Trilogy is a perfect fit for the retail community in Nyack,” said Maria Luisa Whittingham, owner, Maria Luisa boutique and co-founder of Nyack Merchants United. “Our retail businesses are one-of-kind, offering unique products and personal service in a warm, relaxed environment. Trilogy’s consignment approach adds to both our special personality and the sustainability focus in the Nyack retail community.”

Consignment: Retail with a wrinkle

Consignment is at the core of Trilogy’s business philosophy and mission. The ‘wrinkle’ is the sourcing relationship with consignors. Some consignors have been selling with Reid for years. But even under the best circumstances, intake is time-consuming, involves detailed scheduling to evaluate offerings, and often requires research on quality and pricing.

“We don’t have the ‘predictability’ created by online buying algorithms and massive marketing campaigns,” said Reid. “So in consignment, the forces of supply and demand can bring sudden tidal changes in purchasing patterns, and an ongoing need to manage pricing and inventory.”

Affordability for customers is always a top priority. Prices at Trilogy start at $12; the average price point is $40 - $50.

Reid is a 13-year consignment veteran with a history of success. After five years working for a shop in Massachusetts, she opened her own place in Tarrytown in 2014 which, after a “slow build,” soon reached full capacity.

The pandemic shutdown was, of course, a challenging time. “We were closed for 103 days. I counted,” said Reid. Undaunted, Reid found ways to keep the business going, and kept all of her staff on board.

“I threw myself into it,” said Reid. “Despite everything, we kept the shopping experience joyful and uplifting.”

Re-home, recycle, reinvent
Reid’s business model gives voice to the proposition that “fast fashion” – a clothing industry trend built on accelerated production and planned obsolescence -- has over the past two decades fueled overconsumption, exacerbating waste problems and wreaking havoc on the global environment.

“A ‘throw-away’ business model has dominated major sectors of the fashion industry in recent years,” said Reid. “Buy clothes cheap, wear a few times, then toss. Large segments of the consumer population – particularly young people – have bought into that proposition, literally and figuratively. The result is waste, lost value and pollution.”

How can retail consignment address these destructive trends? According to Reid:

-- Re-home: Engage both consignors and customers in re-homing stylish pre-owned goods that can be reused and enjoyed for years

-- Recycle: Set aside items that are unsuitable for immediate re-use and find ways to recycle rather than “trash.” Engage municipalities and other local organizations in offering recycling facilities specifically for textiles

-- Reinvent: Offer an alternative to Internet-fueled overconsumption by giving customers a truly personal shopping experience and creating demand for unique goods with lasting value – incentives for the industry to produce durable, easily reusable, recyclable products.

“As retail businesses, we have no choice other than to function in a market economy. But we should do so with a human conscience and a recognition that our resources on this planet are finite and the climate crisis is real,” said Reid.

Reid points to the facts. Data from multiple internationally recognized sources, including the World Bank, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, show that the fashion industry produces fully 10% of annual global carbon emissions. Not to mention the billions of tons of textile waste – which includes enough plastic to make 50 billion plastic bottles. Most of that plastic ends up in landfills and at the bottom of our oceans every year.

Recycling…and ‘down-cycling’So how does ‘sustainability’ work at the level of an individual retail business?

First, in Reid’s view, clothing is never trash. Second, recycling and donation practices in the clothing business are evolving, and are not always as straightforward as one might expect.

As an example, pure cotton and wool fabrics are relatively easy to remake into new clothing or other useful items says Reid. However, fiber blends (which often include plastic) should be treated differently — ‘down-cycled’ through shredding processes that create “shoddy,” a fiber pulp that’s used to make insulation and carpet padding.

“If consignors provide things I can’t sell, I take responsibility for finding the right way to dispose of them,” said Reid. “There are new avenues and technologies for recycling textiles that maximize utility and minimize waste.”

For consumers, recycling options in the New York area include collection boxes provided by non-profit Green Tree Textile Recycling, says Reid. Boxes are located in Hudson Valley villages and farmers markets. (There’s a box in Reid’s Tarrytown shop. Information at Green Tree Textile Recycling). Green Tree processes collected materials, passes them along to designers and manufacturers for re-purposing, and distributes reusable items to disadvantaged individuals and families in transition.

“Collection boxes fill up fast. More textile recycling facilities are sorely needed in our communities,” commented Reid.

Donation: Unintended consequences?

One point Reid makes loud and clear: Donation and recycling are not necessarily the same thing. According to Reid, donations don’t always help people in need, and can have unintended consequences.

“Over half of the clothing given to mainstream donation outlets is packed in bales and shipped to distributors in developing countries,” said Reid. “The distributors sell what they can, but then dispose of the remainder as trash to be burned or dumped in waterways and illegal landfills. The result: poisoned water, poisoned soil, poisoned air.”

“We don’t like to think of our things as trash,” continued Reid. “But we have to be careful – and realistic -- about what we’re off-loading. We’re sending our garbage to countries and communities that can’t responsibly process it.”

Reid recommends that interested shoppers check out True Cost -- a documentary made in 2015 by Andrew Morgan. The film explores the clothing industry – the people, the processes, the impact.

“When you know better, you do better,” said Reid. “If everyone knew that it takes about 1,000 gallons of water to produce one pair of jeans, over-consumption might become a thing of the past.”

Where is Trilogy headed? Reid is focused on growth, and encourages interested consignors to go first to the Trilogy Consignment website to find everything they need to know about setting up a consignment account. Her long-term goal is to build a franchise that would encourage other entrepreneurs to create their own “Trilogies” --- businesses that bring new life to ageless products, and engage their communities in activities that help protect the environment.

In the meantime, Reid says she’ll be supporting sustainability services and projects in Rockland and Westchester, partnering with local business colleagues, governments, non-profits – and customers.

“Local communities like Nyack can do a lot to help move the business culture in a positive direction,” said Reid.

“I’m just one shop in one town,” added Reid. “But I’m in the right town. “I’ve been all over the world. In the end, you find your direction, and find yourself in the right place.”

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