By Kathy Gibbons
TRAVERSE CITY — Christina Esparza has bought and sold clothing through the Ebb Tide Resale Shop for nearly as long as she's been a mom.
"I have a 14- and an 8-year-old, so I take anything that they grow out of; pretty much anything that they don't use," Esparza said. "It's been great because I either use the check in there (to buy other merchandise) or cash it."
That was what Edith Blanche Brown had in mind when she opened Ebb Tide, which celebrates 20 years in business this year.
She started out by taking over a small consignment business her daughter and son-in-law, Diane and Steven Nevi, had launched, and she expanded into larger space at Logan's Landing to take in more merchandise — both in variety and quantity.
Today, Brown is retired and living elsewhere part of the year, though she comes in and volunteers to work once a week when she can. The Nevis bought the business about five years ago. Diane Nevi said that during times when people are as mindful of their carbon footprint as they are of living within a budget, the business couldn't be more relevant.
The 2,800-square-foot shop has 6,425 consigners who receive 40 percent of their items' selling price. Like Esparza, they have the choice of keeping the proceeds or using it to shop at Ebb Tide, selecting from clothing for men, women and children, coats, boots, shoes, wedding dresses, custom jewelry, household items like dishes, bedding and knickknacks, collectibles, DVDs, CDs, lamps, antique china and more.
The store offers Avon products and sells a line of locally made text mitts — open-fingered gloves made out of old sweaters by Darlene Hays of Traverse City.
"We seem to get more and more consigners all the time," Nevi said. "We still have consigners & from 20 years ago.
"We get the stuff that people don't want to donate, but want to get a little bit of money out of it. We get the Hollister, the Abercrombie, the Jones New York."
After three months, most merchandise that doesn't sell goes back to the consigner or gets donated to a church, Nevi said.
"I think people as Americans have so much stuff, for one, they want to clean stuff out of their house," Nevi said. "And that's a bonus for some people who really are on a budget.
"They can stock their house after it burned down a couple of months ago, or their cabin they bought on the lake. They can come and find stuff here that is fairly inexpensive."