Someone once said, “when the affluent sell their clothes everyone wins.” And that statement is true thanks to consignment stores. But not all consignment stores are the same. For example, the clothes worn by models during Fashion Week in New York will make their way to expensive designer stores and the affluent will buy them because they are trendy, well-made, have a brand name, and they are expensive. Some of those expensive trendy pieces will eventually make it to consignment stores, and they often go unnoticed. They go unnoticed because most consignment merchants don’t know how to sell expensive shoes, clothing, and accessories. These fashion blind consignment merchants unintentionally hide a Louis Vuitton bag or a Stella McCartney dress under mass merchandise purses and off the rack dresses.

In order to be a successful consignment shopper, people must know what’s hot and what designers are on top of the fashion game. That’s not easy because the high-end fashion market moves from one look to another in a blink of an eye. What looked good last year isn’t in favor this year for the elite who spend more on clothing, shoes, and accessories every year than most people spend on an automobile. So consignment stores fill a void. But they are often hit and miss shopping adventures for people who don’t have a clue what high-end look to buy and when to buy it.

Rati Levesque, a former boutique owner, saw what was going on in the consignment industry, and she decided to change the way consignment stores look, and how they sell high-quality merchandise like Gucci bags. In 2011, she helped start The RealReal, a consignment store that offered those Fashion Week looks to clients in a setting that deserved their expensive fashion presence. Levesque’s consignment concept is all about selling high-end merchandise at the right price at the right time.

Rati’s company employs stylists instead of sales clerks who know what’s hot in the luxury fashion industry. And those stylists know what the luxury market pricing scale is on the consignment level. When Levesque and her stylist get high-end consignment items in their inventory, they immediately do the research so they know how and when to offer that merchandise to their clients. In other words, The RealReal stylists are merchandisers who help people find the shoes, clothes, and accessories that make them look runway ready in a timely way.

The RealReal has stores in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and the company’s website offers timely consignment merchandise that is in sync with fashion trends. The company stores are not ordinary consignment stores with half- empty racks and folding tables stacked with thrift store merchandise. Levesque decided to make the company stores look expensive and that decision paid off. The company moves more than 8 million items through their consignment concept locations. Levesque and her knowledgeable stylists broke the consignment mold, and it’s paying off for the people who people want to sell their expensive Louis Vuitton bags, and designer footwear at a decent second-hand market price. And the Levesque concept is paying off for the people who want to but luxury pieces, but don’t know enough about the market to buy the right pieces at the right time, and at the right price.

Buying from a consignment store doesn’t have to be a hit and miss shopping experience anymore. Rati Levesque changed that type of consignment buying adventure when she decided to merge high-end consignment merchandise with high-end, but understandable, consignment items that hit price points that most consignment shoppers can afford. You don’t have to be rich to shop like an heiress anymore. You just need to shop at the right consignment stores, and Rati Levesque stores are the right stores.