Retailers always want the most visible location for their business. And in Houston, that often means a Westheimer storefront. Baubles & Beads, voted Best Non-Chain Retail Store in Westchase District, defies that rule. Tucked into the back side of the Woodlake Square Shopping Center and facing an apartment community, rather than Westheimer, this customer favorite still manages to attract new customers every day.
Owned by MaryKay Edwards, the store has been around 50 years, 28 of them in Woodlake Square. Baubles & Beads has been in its current location since the center was remodeled in 2011.
The store is an upscale resale boutique, featuring 100% consignment clothing, handbags, shoes and jewelry. “Some of our customers come here almost every day just to see what is new,” said Manager Cindy Martinez. “Our inventory is always changing.”
Consignment clothing stays on the rack for 90 days and, if it sells, 40% of the proceeds are paid to the consigner in cash or store credit.
Martinez credits the store’s success to their customer communications. “Our customers will call and ask what we have that’s new. Or they’ll ask us to help them assemble the perfect outfit for an event,” she said. “You can’t go wrong with our prices.”
It’s “just right”
Martinez sounds a little like Goldilocks in describing her store. “It’s not too little and it’s not too big. We try not to price anything too high. But, for the sake of our consigners, we don’t want to price it too low either,” she said. With ordinary consignment items, Martinez and her staff can offer prices on the spot. But with higher end items and luxury goods, she’ll go to the Internet to determine the consignment price. “I do online research. I shop eBay and the regular chain store websites to determine what an item might sell for,” she said. “Sometimes it takes 2-3 days to figure that out.”
One of the most exotic items Martinez ever received on consignment was an mink fur jacket dyed cherry red. While that might not appeal to everyone, a well-known customer went straight to the bank to withdraw cash to meet the $5,000 purchase price.
Martinez grew up in the fashion industry. Her mom was a seamstress and previously she worked in merchandising for Charming Charlie’s. She employs a staff of five, including three part-time students, helping them learn about the fashion world as they gain valuable on-the-job experience.
“We enjoy the adrenalin rush of helping someone find the perfect outfit or the perfect accessory to complement an outfit,” said Martinez. “Our customers are like family. I see them out in the community and we share a connection.”
Without a website to promote the store, Martinez earns business through word of mouth. “We have third generation customers who shop our store,” she said.
Baubles & Beads, 9630 Westheimer Suite 100