The Ultimate U to leave retailing for e-tailing


POSTED: Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Ultimate You, a consignment store that also sells new clothing, accessories and jewelry, will close the first week of April - marking the business' 27th anniversary.




On the Net:

        » www.theultimateyou.com

» stores.shop.ebay.com/ The-Ultimate-You


“;The economy has forced this,”; said President and Chief Executive Kelsey Sears (no relation to Sears and/or Roebuck).

One might believe the consignment business would be robust these days.

“;Everybody thinks that, but my monthly expenses are $4,000 and that's a lot of sales. You need big sales and people aren't spending their money.”;

Sears noted that TV money advisers are telling people not to invest and to hold on to their cash and “;most people are reining back and holding on to see what happens.”;

“;It's an amazing time,”; she said, choosing “;amazing”; over some other word because “;I'm trying to be positive,”; she chuckled.

Sears will continue her business online via her eBay store.

“;I'm going to really concentrate on handbags and jewelry, fine, fashion, new and vintage - and only high-end clothing that will sell on eBay - Chanel, Hermes,”; she said.

She was inspired to start the store by Carmen Hedlund of the old Carol & Mary, a high-end clothing store, as well as the wife of an airline pilot.

She used to be a United Airlines stewardess.

“;You mean flight attendant? Nope. Stew,”; Sears volunteered, because people always try to correct her. “;We were stews.”;

She remains active with the Clipped Wings club.

“;In our era, you couldn't be married,”; or the airline would clip their wings.

She also was a Realtor, working for Bruce Stark, then Alexander & Baldwin in Wailea.

The Ultimate You “;came out of the ashes”; of the real estate recession in the early 1980s.

The Monsarrat Avenue store was one of the first consignment stores on Oahu, she said, “;started with a little loan from First Hawaiian Bank.”;

The shop has moved six times, mostly within Kakaako - on the spot where Pier 1 was built; a two-story building near a fishing supply store; the spot where the Ward Theaters are now; the site of Nordstrom Shoes; and inside Ward Centre.

Then she landed at Hee Hing Plaza on Kapahulu Avenue “;with total freedom”; and no stringent mall hours.

It is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday “;with extended hours coming soon,”; along with some evening promotions, she said.

For the remaining weeks, “;everything is going as low as we can mark it”; ... it's all about “;the excitement of the treasure hunt,”; Sears said.

Most of the clothing and handbags are new. “;That's very shocking to people. Half the store comes from Nieman Marcus,”; she said, adding, “;our prices are better.”;

Well, frugal is the new cool.


Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Reach her by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).