Hot Coco

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

There's absolutely no shame getting designer labels for less if your budget is tight - and at this point, whose isn't?

Julia Smythe knows when she was a single mom in Palm Springs, California, the consignment shops that dotted streets were her key to standing out by blending in.

So in that spirit, she and daughter Coty Hildebrand opened Coco Couture just a few weeks ago. The boutique is filled with women's vintage and consignment clothes, shoes and jewelry, and some home decor and housewares.

The grand opening was last weekend, and they've arranged tables, chests and coat racks in the opening section of the store to usher shoppers into the decent-sized Grandview space. Vintage chairs by the dressing rooms add to the "living room" feel, and racks to the right side of the store hold clothes arranged by category, not size.

"People come in, and they're like, 'Oh, I remember this' or 'Oh, I had this,'" Smythe said. "So even if they don't buy anything, it's fun for them to look around."

Smythe and Hildebrand admit they're picky, choosing only well-maintained consignment items that hardly show signs of use.

"When they walk in and don't know it's a consignment store, I guess we did what we set out to do," Smythe said.

But it's not just about the styles and labels you like, Smythe learned while selling vintage apparel through eBay. There's a buyer for just about anything, she added. So Coco carries clothing and accessories to appeal to all ages and price points, from straight-leg, paisley-print corduroy pants to a heather-gray jacket with short poof sleeves that ties at the waist.

Among the vintage selections are sequin-covered shifts and a knee-length sleeved silk jacket with billowing sleeves in bright pink. In many cases, it's about the look - which is definitively dressy - and not the label.

There's also tiny clutches, a few oversized bags and a handful of shoes, most of them heels. The jewelry selection, divided between several display cases near the register and on stands around the "living room" area, is something Smythe is most proud of.

Strands of beads and pearls, colorful rings that glitter and a big selection of brooches, along with new pieces from two local designers, make up the collection.

"We're all about frou-frou and glamour," Smythe said.

Coco Couture

1423-A Grandview Ave., Grandview