The Vault Luxury Resale Will Reshape the Way You Buy Luxury Items
I had the pleasure of interviewing Sue McCarthy of The Vault Luxury Resale
Sue McCarthy knows that most women would adore a Louis Vuitton handbag, a Hermes scarf, or a piece of David Yurman jewelry, but not all of us can afford it. This is one of the many reasons the successful entrepreneur and style maven has created the perfect brick-and-mortar and online store, The Vault Luxury Resale.
Each day as many as 1,000 items — designer clothing, handbags, jewelry, and other accessories — are brought into the store from a variety of suppliers, and McCarthy and daughters, Diana and Laura, (and the rest of the experienced team), select the cream of the crop to sell.
“We pride ourselves in dressing women and children at every price point and size,” McCarthy says, “and for making luxury goods accessible for all.”
Principled by her tireless work ethic, fierce love for her family, and loyal customers, McCarthy can help you find everything from the perfect holiday gift or an entire wardrobe for yourself, friends, or family members.
What makes The Vault Luxury Resale so successful? McCarthy says it is a blend of hard work, tenacity, and passion.
“My daughters and I love fashion, luxury items, and travel, but we each bring a little something different to the table,” McCarthy explains. “I have an innate business sense that helps me choose great locations for stores. I have a natural curiosity (and small ego) that helps me learn from both likely and unlikely places.”
She said that her daughter Diana McCarthy Ford,brings her talents of event planning and marketing. “Diana has planned events on all seven continents and has been awarded the prestigious Event of the Year from International Live Event Association. She plans & leads shopping excursions to New York, London, Paris, Scottsdale and Chicago, all hosted by The Vault Luxury Resale.”
McCarthy calls her daughter Laura McCarthy Maurice a label savant. “Laura knows what were Chanel’s best years as well as the release dates of Louis Vuitton bags. She also has a knack for fashion and style and is able to dress people in their own individual style, not cookie cutter. She has amazing people skills so she can genuinely and honestly let someone know when a piece looks amazing and when it doesn’t. “
Can you please share with us your background?
I believe that my early years shaped my work ethic and outlook on work and family. I spent my childhood sleeping on rollaway beds in the kitchen or cots on the floor, wherever there was space, always sharing what little bed space I had. I didn’t sleep in my own bed until I was a teenager. There was always another family living with us, more mouths to feed. More people to take care of. It was a huge drain on my father’s resources, but he did the best he could.
My father always strove for better, better, better; never stop trying to improve. His motto: “Good, better, best. Never let it rest until the good is better and the better is the best,” were the words I lived by. And I still do. I went from being poor, defenseless, and subject to the whims of others to being my own boss, the owner of a successful women’s run (residential and commercial) painting company. It was my first business and I have continued to run The Vault Resale by the same principles with which I began my life in business.
Please share with our readers how you started The Vault Luxury and the mission behind it?
I found a 400-square-foot space on McKenzie and Gravois (in St. Louis). I called it Women’s Closet Exchange and opened it in the spring of 1991. I chose the name because I thought it evoked what we did – exchange items from women’s closets. (Two years later, I regretted the name, thinking it was too long.) It was a good location, on a busy road with high visibility at a rent that I could afford.
The only problem was that I had no clothes to sell. I went home and took everything out of my closet and the girls’ closets and I put it in the store. I had five racks. I put three racks in the front of the store and filled them with well-organized, color-coordinated merchandise. I filled the other two racks with merchandise and put those in the back room.
I wanted to give an impression of abundance, of more, more, more. And that you’d have to keep coming back to see the new stuff. (I am a big fan of the adage ‘fake it ‘til you make it.’) It was enticing and it worked. Years later, the business was renamed The Vault Luxury Resale, which is currently located at 2325 South Brentwood Blvd. Brentwood, Missouri, (Suburban St. Louis.)
What makes your store stand out from others that are in your space?
When it comes to our in-person shopper – we treat everyone exactly the same; with the utmost care and respect. We don’t care how much you spend. Our mission is to provide each customer with a really good time. We know that our customers have a lot of choices; they can spend their money anywhere. So, it’s the least we can do to make sure that they have a good time.
What roles do your daughters have in the business?
Diana is the director of luxury goods and gatherings. She has a great deal of experience in event planning and I use this to plan the events and curate the closets in New York.
Laura is the “handbag hustler.” She knows more about handbags than Bergdorf’s. We are still doing closets in St. Louis, Nashville, Chicago, and New York. We had one of our best closets in Nashville; a super high-end client with beautiful treasures. Going to the closet of a celebrity or socialite is extremely enjoyable because it’s like going on a treasure hunt.
What do you enjoy about working with your daughters?
It’s really like Christmas every day here because you never know what’s going to walk in the door. The Vault Luxury is a family business. A lot of people can’t believe that a mother and her two daughters can work so well together, but we do. When the girls started working with me, they became as passionate as me, and immediately relished their roles in the business.
I love working with my daughters and since they joined the team our revenues have doubled. Now, we certainly have our issues. What family doesn’t?
We each have different talents that we bring to bear on the specific things we are responsible for in our company, we rarely step on each other’s toes or cause hard feelings. When we disagree, we get over it quickly and it’s resolved in a day. I think what makes it work so well is that we respect each other and the talents that we each have. I am the CEO, and I now take a much more expansive view of the business, allowing my daughters to take the lead on a day-to-day basis. My trust in them is complete. As is my appreciation for their strengths.
You and your daughters have been in celebrity closets in New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Milan, and Paris. What are you looking for in a ‘closet buy’?
We look at 1,000 pieces a day at the Vault Luxury Resale in Suburban, St. Louis, so we really don’t need to travel for items. That said, we are more likely to come to your home to do a ‘closet buy’ if you’ve got the goods, by which we mean so many fabulous bags, shoes, jewelry, and clothes that you can’t possibly make it into the store. Here is some advice: know what we want – we want labels from the better department stores and boutiques purchased in the last two years. Also, know what you are selling and be organized and ready.
What are some of the designers that are popular at your store?
Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, YSL, Hermes, Tory Burch, Kate Spade. Marc Jacobs, David Yurman, Stella McCartney, Lululemon, Athletica, J. Crew, Eileen Fisher, Vince, Theory, and the like.
What life lessons did you teach your daughters and why is that so important to you?
When my girls were ages 12 and 15, they would find a woman or an elderly man in our neighborhood, and my girls would go and clean their house and do errands for them a few times a week. They were raised to understand that part of living in this world is giving back in this world. That’s the way I was raised, as well. I have been incredibly blessed with two wonderful daughters and four teenage grandsons. I taught them that attitude is everything and that perception is reality. We appreciate beautiful things, but we don’t hold on to stuff; none of us are materialistic.
What is your advice for other store owners that you meet at national conferences?
Never think you’ve got it all figured out, that there’s no room for improvement, or that you can’t learn anything new. When I go to our national conferences now, I talk to as many people as I can. At this point in my resale career – nearly 35 years and seven stores – I am considered a leader in the industry.
Why is philanthropy so important to you and your values?
From the beginning of this business, I thought it was important to give back to the community that supports you and I continue to feel that way. And as a result, we have raised more than $500,000 during that time as part of our philanthropic efforts. We love to work with women in transition and who are having a hard time.
We feel it is a privilege to help these women who are coming out of prison because they really don’t have a chance from the very beginning, and they keep going back. So, this summer for our Buy One/Gift One program, we took 40-50 purses, and in them, we put tampons, deodorant, a resume builder, and an uplifting thought-for-the-day. These are nice purses; I don’t believe in giving junk. It feels really good to give back. We will be expanding this initiative in the future.
If you could go back and talk to your younger self, what would you tell her?
It’s going to be amazing; just you wait.
What are the new sales projects you are working on now?
We recently launched a brand-new VIP luxury rewards program. This is our brand-new loyalty reward program to thank our shoppers. We also host local vendor bazaars at special times throughout the year. We invite St. Louis entrepreneurs, designers, and authors. There are a lot of clothing and jewelry designers’ artisans and we invite them into the store. This is hugely successful for us and we are getting ready to have another one in December. The idea is to share their success, boost up other entrepreneurs, and share one another’s networks and connections, and help them become a formidable team.
What are your Top 10 Tips for success?
- Integrity is everything.
- Have a passion for what you are doing.
- Always do the right thing.
- Never think you know everything.
- Embrace change.
- Treat customers like queens and surprise them with thoughtful touches.
- Manage expectations and educate gently.
- Be careful not to bruise egos.
- Treat your staff well.
- Give back to your customers and your community.
Where do you see The Vault Luxury heading in New Year 2022 and in the future?
For the future, we are getting ready to launch a YouTube channel where we go back into people’s closets. Some of the first closets will be in New York, St. Louis, and Chicago. This will be along the lines of Resale Royalty, my popular 2013 reality show produced by model and entrepreneur Rachel Zoe, which is currently gaining attention from an entirely new audience. We are extremely excited about this.
How can our readers connect with you on social media? [provide website and social media links]
Vault Luxury Resale Website: Website
FB: The Vault Luxury Resale https://www.facebook.com/thevaultluxuryresale
IG: The Vault Luxury Resale @TheVaultLuxuryResale https://www.instagram.com/thevaultluxuryresale/
IG: Diana Ford @DianaFordShopGirl https://www.instagram.com/dianafordshopgirl/
IG: Laura Maurice @laurammaurice https://www.instagram.com/laurammaurice/
IG: Sue McCarthy @mccarthy648 https://www.instagram.com/mccarthy648/
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