By Mary Carpenter • Photos by Jessica McCafferty
Consumer buying patterns aren’t what they used to be. Today much of our buying is done on line in a search for convenience, variety and price. But for some, none of those things are of paramount importance. For shoppers looking for something special, whether it is clothing, jewelry, a gift, or a unique item for the home, may I suggest a visit to an exceptional shop in downtown Plattsburgh – Cache Elegant.
When Cache’s owner, Barbara Hugus, was a 17-year-old high school junior she went looking for her first job. She found it at Neisner’s, a five-and-dime variety store located in Plattsburgh Plaza, and that set the course for her professional life.
Following the path of most women of her generation, Hugus married, had children and worked a variety of jobs — most were in retail. “When I was a retail associate, my goal was to be a buyer for Fashion Apparel or Home Décor,” she observed. By 2010 she was ready to take the knowledge she’d accumulated, combine it with her flair for fashion and strike out on her own.
A retail space on City Hall Place became available at just the right time and Hugus made her move. Rather than open a retail store, she created a niche business – an upscale consignment boutique. (It may be hard to believe, but second-hand clothing is one of the world’s fastest-growing industries. The market is expanding at a stunning 25% each year.)
According to Hugus, a successful consignment business needs to identify its target market and cater to it. Cache’s loyal followers are high school seniors, seniors in life and everyone in between. Her new and preloved apparel pieces — most are familiar brand names — are available in sizes from small to XX large for what she calls “the curvier woman” and at all price points. She also offers accessories, vintage and local artisan jewelry, shoes, gifts, local art, and home accessories.
The advantages of consignment are numerous. “As a consignee, my financial commitment is much lower,” Hugus explained. “I have inventory ready to be purchased rather than having to wait for wholesalers or manufacturers to deliver – something that was emphasized by supply chain issues created by the COVID pandemic. Also, it is a great way to do your part in reducing the environmental footprint. From the perspective of the shopper, buying consignment items allows you to craft your own unique style with quality name-brands and designer labels at a lower price.”
After six years of successful operation, Hugus decided it was time to retire. In 2017 she liquidated her inventory and closed her shop.“ Two months later, I was looking for a new location,” she recalled with a laugh. “I realized I was just not ready to give up what I truly loved.” It took Hugus time to find a suitable place for Cache Elegant II, but when a store front, half a block from her previous shop, became available in 2020, she knew she had found her new home. Despite pandemic concerns, the shop’s grand reopening took place in November.
The new shop, on the west side of City Hall Place, offers colorful window displays which change weekly. “My windows provide visual stories,” she explained. “They are my most effective marketing tool, along with word-of-mouth acclaim from satisfied customers.”
Consignment items come from the greater Plattsburgh area, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Chazy, New York City, and Canada. Hugus has high standards for the goods she sells. “All items should look new, be washed or dry cleaned, smoke free, and pressed,” she emphasized. While most of her merchandise are current styles, she carries an interesting selection of vintage items that appeal to a regular group of customers. And, if you are looking for something out of the ordinary and guaranteed to impress your friends, Cache is the place to start your search.
Asked what sells best, Hugus was quick to respond. “Dresses, dresses of all designs and for all ages — and tops!!” In addition to her diverse selection of merchandise, Hugus provides something seldom found in retail today – personal service. She is happy to talk with you about what you are looking for and then walk through the shop with you to identify possibilities. She understands style, design, color, silhouette, and fabrics. Looking for something casual, a dress to expand your work wardrobe or even an evening gown for a special occasion? You’ll likely find it at Cache Elegant. There is even a special section in the shop devoted to “The Little Black Dress” every woman needs.
Shopping at Cache Elegant is an experience to be savored. If you haven’t done so, it’s time to stop in, meet Barbara Hugus, explore her treasures, and find your conversation pieces.
9 City Hall Place
Plattsburgh, NY 12901