Prada, Chanel, Gucci; brands that represent very desirable products in the fashion world.
Unfortunately, because of the high cost of these items, desire is often as close to these designer names as most people can get.
But a couple of Newton "empty nesters" want to change that.
Owned and operated by Newton residents Fred and Meredith Bennett, Found is a 5,000-square-foot, “luxury for less” consignment shop in Somerville's Davis Square. The store, which opened in September 2011, offers consumers an opportunity to shop for fashions that might not necessarily be in their budgets.
While the husband and wife team have both had retail experience over the course of their professional lives, they say no job has been as personally rewarding as what they have found at Found.
“Because of the economy, a lot of people want items that are expensive but affordable,” says Fred Bennett.
While shopping at Found, customers can purchase most items, depending on their condition, at a half or a third of their original cost, Bennett says. There are also lots of clothes at Found that do not have designer labels, and they can be sold for even less.
According to the owners, Found has had a steady stream of customers since it opened. The business has done so well that Fred Bennett says there is even talk of possibly opening a second store.
One reason for its success is co-worker Fern Hammer, a lifelong Newton resident and friend of Meredith Bennett’s since childhood.
Affectionately called “The Gatherer," Hammer's job is to acquire the store's inventory.
“I approach other stores for excess stock, I go to showrooms and I go into people’s closets," says Hammer. "I have such a huge network of friends and they’ll tell people, who will tell other people. It’s all about networking."
"My job is a real treasure hunt," she adds.
And according to Hammer, now is the right time for her and Meredith Bennett to be in the business world, as the two are experiencing "empty nest syndrome". Both have sons, who are already in college, and both have daughters (best friends, who recently graduated from Newton South) who will begin freshman year at the University of Vermont next month.
With lives that have revolved around their children for so long, Hammer and Bennett say the thought of no kids in their houses brought about a need for them to find a different focus in their lives -- and the highly social nature of their business has been a real benefit for both women.
“I get to come to work and be with my friends,” says Hammer, noting that several other employees at Found are also women from Newton.
For both women, the prospect of being empty nesters was daunting -- going back to work was a natural solution.
“I am a people person, and if our shoppers are happy, then we’re happy," says Meredith Bennett. “The business has become a labor of love and there is no better feeling than knowing you have helped make someone’s dream come true.”
Meredith Bennett recalls a time when one of Found's first customers came in looking for a pair of designer shoes.
“One of our first customers was a young woman, who told us who she and her friends use to have “Sex and the City” parties. She came in with her mother and told us that she always wanted a pair of designer shoes, but didn’t have a lot of money to spend. She said it was her dream to own a pair of Christian Laboutin heels like Carrie Bradshaw.”
When they couldn’t find anything to fit her at the store, Meredith Bennett went out and found a pair of shoes that worked for the young woman and significantly cut the cost so she could afford them.
The girl was so happy that she sent the Bennetts a thank you note. Even the girl's father came in to the store “with tears in his eyes” to thank them, Meredith Bennett says.
“It doesn’t get much better than that," Bennett says.