Along an isolated stretch of retail in Locust Valley, N.Y., there’s a beauty salon, a bakery, a spa, a plumber — and then there’s the Again & Again consignment boutique.The 1,000-square-foot corner shop is filled with vintage and designer clothing, antiques, paintings, posters, figurines, home decor and kitchenware.
“You can’t ever predict what’s going to come in,” said Clotilde Lopes, owner of Again & Again, located at 294 Forest Avenue. “The clothing we change every season. Right now, it’s spring and summer. I look at the condition of the garment and who designed it, if it’s fashionable or updated fashion. I have an eye for this. But whatever we don’t sell goes back to the owner or to charity.”
This year, Lopes, who immigrated to the U.S. from Lima, Peru, when she was 17, celebrates 50 years in the secondhand business. Consider her a pioneer in a retail sector that only within the last decade started to flourish as recycling to help preserve the environment became top of mind, particularly among younger generations. Last March she celebrated her 85th birthday. Lopes still single-handedly works the shop, six days a week. Through all those years in business, she also raised a family. She has four children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Again & Again has endured through recessions, the pandemic, mounting competition from much bigger retail businesses entering the circular economy, and without the benefit of a location that draws much shopper traffic, though occupying a corner site enhances visibility from the street. Again & Again has no website or the wherewithal for automation, systems, or marketing, aside from placing occasional ads in the local Glen Cove Pilot newspaper, and a lot of word-of-mouth. It’s quintessential old-school retailing, and a one-woman show.
“I like to meet people and build relationships,” said Lopes. “A lot of my customers and clients have been coming here for 30 to 40 years. It’s a place to go. I listen to their life stories. They tell me about their families, their marriages and sometimes come crying to me, but I tell them don’t worry. It will work out but don’t spend all your money on a lawyer.”
Clients have become friends, some even bringing Lopes food they baked at home, bottles of wine, or flowers. One client recently gave her a jar of homemade potato leek soup. “Customers always come back. Sometimes I feel like a second mother to them.”
She said she gets a mix of immigrants and Americans shopping the store. “A lot of immigrants like to dress nice, but they often can’t afford to get brand new clothing with good quality. All the clothes I sell are very lightly used.” Helping dress the immigrant population on Long Island’s North Shore was part of the motivation for being in business, she said.
But also a lot of dealers and decorators frequently come by, for something valuable and to resell. “I know each and every one one of them,” said Lopes, who splits the proceeds of the sale of merchandise, 50-50 with those providing Again & Again with products.
The Again & Again business dates back to when Maria McCarthy in 1973 launched the “Why Not Shop” consignment shop also on Forest Avenue, and Lopes became a partner. That business did so well it expanded with the opening of Again & Again in the late 1980s, for used furniture and household goods. In 1993, McCarthy passed away and Lopes became the sole owner of the business. She merged the two businesses into the one location that exists today and refocused it on women’s clothing and accessories as well as home furnishings.
Again & Again, in Locust Valley, N.Y.
Asked if consignment shoppers haggle much over prices, Lopes replied: “Not really. My prices are very reasonable.”
Recently, a Mikimoto pearl bracelet was sold for $800. “It could have been worth $2,000 or $3,000,” Lopes said. Last year, a Chanel women’s suit was sold for $1,200. Furs as well as wedding gowns have been selling pretty steadily, and Lopes recalls not long ago selling a Louis Vuitton travel bag and some Vince sportswear. On a recent day the window was filled with lamps, candelabras, hand-printed plates, Tiffany crystal candlestick holders, a Jewish menorah and more.
“You never know what people are going to give up,” Lopes said. “I had one customer in here who bought an antique Chinese carved wood figurine. He was so enthusiastic about it, he put it on the web, and I got a lot of customers after that.”