As retail stores everywhere struggle to get products on their sales floors due to supply chain issues and labor shortages, a Fair Oaks shop is bursting with inventory.
Moth Hole Consignment, owned by Lauren Bertolani, has been a local retailer since the early-to-mid-1970s. It offers gently used and new women’s clothing, and a variety of gift items in a 3,400-square-foot location. Bertolani is the third owner, having purchased the store in 2014.
For those unfamiliar with consignment, people can bring in gently used and recently cleaned clothing or accessories and have them sold. At Moth Hole, items sold earn the consignor 40% of the price charged, paid monthly.
The company specializes in name brands that are currently in style. Items that aren’t accepted for sale are donated to A Community for Peace, a Sacramento organization serving survivors of domestic violence.
What this model offers consumers is a chance to buy quality goods at a lower price than the original retail. Shoppers are able to save money and participate in the reuse of clothing, rather than perpetuating the cycle of fast fashion.
“The way we dress has changed so much. People used to spend good money on one item and fix or alter it. It’s all fast fashion now. I like the opportunity to be a place that offers recycling of clothing,” says Bertolani.
Currently all categories for consignment at the Moth Hole are full, and we can likely thank the pandemic for that.
“With quarantine so many people gained weight or lost weight. Some retired early and some are staying remote,” Bertolani said. “Some people are combining homes and have less space.”
Whatever the reason, many people have been looking to unload entire wardrobes, rather than the usual few select items.
Bertolani said she has never seen this many consignment items coming in since she started working at the Moth Hole in 2006 while still in high school. The store got its start in Orangeville as a consignment for women’s and children’s clothes and furniture. The second owner moved it to Fair Oaks in 1999, dropped the furniture, and added some new clothing through the purchase of sample items.
Bertolani was taking a class at Bella Vista High School that required her to work a retail job, so she quit her job as a restaurant hostess and started working at the Moth Hole. She stayed on as she finished high school, and went on to get a degree in marketing at Sac State. She says she knew that one day she wanted to have her own store of some sort.
Her chance came sooner than she expected, as the previous owner wished to retire and offered Bertolani the opportunity to buy the Moth Hole.
“She told me she would be there every step of the way to help me,” Bertolani recalls. Now married, Bertolani and her husband spent six months working on the business plan before jumping in. The lease for the space was up, and they ended up moving it to a smaller location in the same mall. Since that move, the Moth Hole has tripled in size.
It is mostly consignment, but there are also new items in women’s sizes small to 3X. Bertolani takes pride in it being a place where women of any age and size can shop.
During quarantine in 2020, Bertolani had to close the store. She kept on one employee to help her with social media and a new store website, where they made everything they could available for purchase online.
“We spent days just taking pictures of clothing.”
In June and July, they were able to open back up for shopping by appointment, and they were fully booked.
“People were ready to get out,” Bertolani says, and they felt safe shopping in a large space with limited numbers of shoppers.
Now that they are back open to the public, they have taken most consignment items off the website except for designer handbags. Another change they made during that time was adding new gift items.
“People maybe weren’t ready to buy things for themselves, but they still needed to buy gifts,” Bertolani. says.
She added new mugs, candles, skincare, jewelry and other gift items to the sales floor, enhancing the boutique feel she aims to keep. Those items are available on the website, along with new clothing.
Bertolani says she has good news for holiday shoppers: she has been stockpiling merchandise for the expanded gift area. While so much merchandise floats on a cargo ship with uncertain arrival timelines, the Moth Hole has many items already on hand on the floor and in inventory.
One of Bertolani’s favorite things about the Moth Hole is when a customer is originally only interested in purchasing the new merchandise, and then is drawn to the quality of the consigned item. Bertolani says even if you aren’t ready for a whole new wardrobe, consignment can be a great way to get some transition pieces while you figure out what’s next.
Perhaps her biggest passion is making the store a place where generations shop together.
“I didn’t see stores where mothers could shop with their daughters,” she recalls. “I see it happening now, people bring in their kids.”
Bertolani puts a lot of effort into making the store and inventory appropriate for daughters, mothers and grandmothers to be able to shop together and all be able to find clothing.
“We live in a world that is starting to lack in customer experience, especially with everything shifting to online,” she says. “We know most of our customers by name. We start fitting rooms and essentially shop with them while getting to know them.”
Now in her seventh year of ownership, Bertolani says she is thankful for her staff and for being a family-run business. Her husband, Steve, takes care of the bookkeeping and tech side of the business. Her mother, Kristin, has been working at the store for 14 years.
If you go
The Moth Hole is located at 11787 Fair Oaks Blvd, in Fair Oaks, and its website with store hours and more information is www.mothholeconsignment.com.