Everything old is newly discovered at Paula Moland’s consignment shop on Shem Creek
By LEAH RHYNE Photos by JAMES STEFIUK
Sometimes, a beautiful thing is born from chaos. In the case of Paula Moland, chaos and heartbreak filled her life throughout 2017, but something lovely was born from it: her new business on the shores of Shem Creek called The Red Dresser. Since its opening in November, the small space has been full to bursting. But where did the idea for this beautiful new place come from? And where will it go next? Moland shares her story.
Paula Moland has always been a business woman. She began with day care centers, creating happy places to foster small children through their early years. But after the death of her son in January of 2017, followed far too closely by the death of her husband in October of the same year, Moland found herself in need of a major change.
An artist friend made a simple suggestion. Noting the eclectic furnishings in Moland’s home, the friend told her she should open a consignment shop, finding interesting and quirky items to help fill other homes in the Lowcountry.
“My world was crashing all around me,” says Moland. “A new store sounded positive and fun.”
She set up shop in the first place she visited, one minute from the shores of Shem Creek. She needed a business name, so she came up with ten choices, then polled her friends. “What do you think this store is, and would you shop there?” she asked over and over. When several chose The Red Dresser as their favorite, and someone told her it sounded like a funky little consignment shop, Moland knew she had a winner.
From there, her biggest concern was inventory. Once she opened the doors, would she be able to pull in enough to fill her store and provide an interesting shopping experience for customers?
It turned out her worrying was for nothing. Not only was the storefront full, but Moland had to rent two additional storage units. “I think it’s the location,” she says. “People from the Old Village and downtown are downsizing, maybe, and they bring their items to me.” Whatever the reason, The Red Dresser is stocked.
A few smart business decisions also helped to fill the store. Offering free pick-up and delivery once a month has assisted people who may not have a truck to lighten their own loads. Taking in items in a variety of styles has also helped.
“You can find a lot in the store,” she says, mentioning this summer they even sold a light up alligator. “We run the gamut. From high-end antiques to prints and artwork that were purchased by their owners for hundreds—but we sell for twenty or thirty dollars—we have a little bit of everything.” To date, Moland’s favorite item, however, has been a $6,000 French Morbier clock from Wales. “I kind of wanted to buy that one myself.”
For those new to the world of consignments, here’s how things work at The Red Dresser: You bring in your items (or have them picked up from one of their suggested delivery companies), then Moland prices them for you and puts them up for sale in the store. She has also recently launched an online store, and items are being uploaded there daily to expand exposure. Prices are reduced, typically by 20%, at three, six, and nine weeks of display time. If the item hasn’t sold in 12 weeks, the owner has to pick it up, or it becomes property of the store.
For inventory, The Red Dresser is interested in all sorts of items. Midcentury modern furnishings, antiques, unique art, vintage instruments, china and anything to do with wine (seriously, they mean it). They want it all! The only caveat is the item has to be in good condition. “There aren’t any fixer-uppers in my store,” says Moland with a laugh. “But the items people have brought me—sometimes you have to wonder if they ever had them out in their houses. They’re in such great shape.”
As her online store expands and she continues pulling in high-quality, quirky inventory, Moland has no immediate plans of expanding her space. “It’s chaos inside,” she says. “But I love it. I have over two thousand items in there, and now people can look online before they shop.”
If life is chaos—ugly at times, beautiful at others—then Moland and The Red Dresser are ready to face it all. 843-936-3697, reddressersc.com