Porefessionals Day Spa owner Celeste Friend, left, is shown shortly after signing her lease on this store with landlord Sarah Long. (Corey Levitan)
OCTOBER 26, 2017, 12:00 PM
By Corey Levitan Sarah Long points out a Hermes handbag — a Scheherazade pink crocodile-skinned extremely limited Birkin edition — on her display shelf that she says would easily fetch $120,000 at a Christie’s auction in New York City. That’s almost an entry-level Ferrari at the dealership next door.
And it’s used!
“If you go to Hermes and say, ‘I want this bag,’ they tell you that you have to have two references and you have to buy $500,000 in stuff from that store before they sell this bag to you,” Long said.
She purchased this storefront at No. 4 7514 Girard Ave., in a partially hidden retail cul-de-sac, in 2014. After a yoga studio vacated earlier this year, she earmarked the barely 200-square-foot space for a second location of her Authentic Luxury Goods consignment store. Her original location, on Sixth Avenue downtown, sells similar high-end used bags or holds them as collateral for loans.
“If you clean your closet and you have two Hermes, if you throw them away, you waste $10,000,” she said, explaining that women tend to use such bags only once or twice, since they’re so valuable, so most remain in perfect condition. “So if you come to my store, I give you $5,000.”
Long said many phone calls to her store come from La Jollans who are interested “but don’t want to come to Sixth Avenue.” They also demand privacy when they shop, she says, so she planned to open her La Jolla store by appointment only.
About a month ago, Long installed display shelves and signage out front. But, she says, she ran smack into resistance from — since condos share the space — the complex’s homeowners association. One issue, she said, was her wordy window. It spelled out “LOAN,” making it appear to be a pawn shop. (Misspelling two brand names probably didn’t help.)
“It’s not a pawn shop,” Long insisted. “I explained to them it was luxury items. They’re thinking this is low-end.” (A 2016 San Diego Union-Tribune story on the high-end resale handbag market last year supports Long’s claim, name-checking Authentic Luxury Goods and proclaiming “these days, there’s cache, and cash, in that classic Chanel.”)
Long says she was also informed that according to the HOA community’s CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions) the only second-hand merchandise that a store on property can sell is jewelry. So she leased the space to another tenant instead. Porefessionals Day Spa, an esthetician salon and boutique, plans to open Nov. 1. The space was once occupied by a medical spa anyway, and still includes some of its fixtures.
“I’m very excited to be in La Jolla and work with the folks here,” said Porefessionals owner Celeste Friend, who previously performed facials, vacuum extractions and microdermabrasion treatments on a mobile basis. “It’s a beautiful building. I spent five months searching for this perfect space, so I’m really happy with it.”
Ferrari San Diego general manager Bill Story disputes Long’s version of the story somewhat. He claims Long was simply told she needed to present her signage to the HOA’s architecture committee for approval beforehand, which she did not. He says that a tenant came along as she was deciding what to do, so she closed the consignment store before opening it.
Long owns another vacant store in the complex, No. 7, which is adjacent to No. 4. Its 600 square feet formerly housed an Edward Jones financial advisement agency.
“If the HOA board approves,” Long said, “I may open the Authentic Luxury Goods Store there. If not, I will rent it out again.”
Story maintains that Ferrari will support whatever Long decides to do. “We’re excited and we wish her the best,” he said. “I don’t want vacant stores in the building.” He adds: “Hopefully, her customers will buy a Ferrari from us.”