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BARGAINS / GERI COOK

The Perfect Mix : Jean's Star Apparel offers a variety of clothing, including haute-couture fashions.

September 17, 1993|GERI COOK

SHERMAN OAKS — Were it not for resale boutiques, the possibility of many of us owning fashions by Chanel, Valenti no, Ungaro or Issaye Miyake would be remote. However, when a $2,000 Chanel, tenderly cared for, can be had for $400, the impossible becomes a reality. Not all resale stores carry haute couture, and some specialize in it.

My tastes fall somewhere in the middle. I like to see Anne Klein and Adrienne Vittadini, Escada and Donna Karan, with some haute couture designers sprinkled in.

Jean's Star Apparel fills that bill perfectly. The mix is just right. Come to think of it, everything about this boutique is just right: the size (cozy but not crowded), the personnel (knowledgeable and accommodating), the hospitality (refreshments provided). I suspect that many customers come just for the conviviality.

Maybe this perfect mix comes from many years of experience. Jean's Star Apparel opened in 1958 when Jean Harding startled her friends by selling "used clothing." Jean's daughter, Janet Snyder, joined her mother in 1981 and has been at the helm ever since.

Snyder, who is totally involved in the resale concept, is one of the few resale store owners in Southern California active in the National Assn. of Resale & Thrift Shops, for which she is a sought-after speaker.

For anyone thinking of starting her own resale operation, a better role model than Snyder couldn't be found. She is grateful to her consignors as well as her customers and maintains good relationships with them. This goodwill comes in part from her solid business practices; consignees are paid monthly for their garments once they are sold.

On a recent visit to research Jean's Star Apparel's annual blowout, some astonishing bargains surfaced. Marked down for the sale that begins today was a white Oscar de la Renta suit (Size 4/6) that retailed new for around $700 and now tagged at $45. A $1,100 Jenny dress will sell for $150, and a $400 DKNY faille jacket should move fast at $35. A handsome red gabardine suit by Eleanor Brenner (Size 10) that looked as if it had never been worn was $400 new, $175 at Jean's regular prices and marked all the way down to $43.85 for the sale.

Snyder has a down-to-earth viewpoint for setting prices: "I keep my overhead low and only sell what they can wear. I know what my customers want--quality, current styles and reasonable prices--and because of that, the merchandise moves fast. This brings a repeat business of about 75%."

Jean's Star Apparel has a wide selection of accessories: A black Carlos Falchi handbag (new $750) can be had for $34.95. Instead of $1,000 for some El Vacquero boots, someone will whisk them away for $150; a pair of sleek never-worn pumps from Spain at $35 can finish off an outfit with inexpensive panache. Unlike many upscale resale stores where the costume jewelry is new and pricey, here the glitter is resale as well.

WHERE TO SHOP What: Jean's Star Apparel. Location: 15136 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays. Special sale hours: open at 8 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. Cards: American Express, MasterCard, Visa. Call: (818) 789-3710.

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