In Chicago: Doing Good While Looking Good

Good things can come in small packages and in small spaces. In Chicago’s interesting Old Town neighborhood there’s a terrific resale shop tucked into the ground floor of one of the many stone townhouses that line Wells Street. Here’s Peggy’s report: 

Mercy Beaucoup! Resale Boutique comes across its cute name honestly, as the proceeds from this well-run shop benefit the Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, which has been helping low-income children in Chicago since 1887.

The shop, which was created seven years ago, has a constant turnover of top condition women, men’s and children’s clothing and accessories, thanks to permanent markdowns of 20 to 50 percent after an item has been on the racks for three weeks or more.

 

“We only put out things in really good condition,” store manager Lynn Spaeth explained. “We have high end like St. John, to middle range, like Ann Taylor and The Loft,” she said, showing me the priciest items — a Burberry scarf ($125, usually $450) and Gucci shoes for men.

But most of the dresses, blouses, pants, shoes and even coats are in the $10 to $40 range.

 

I scored a terrific pair of Isaac Mizrahi beige aerated oxfords for $14. I love the look, they’re well constructed and very comfortable.

 

I also bought some Calvin Klein black wool pants for $10 and a new Carter’s fleecy baby onesie for $3. I almost bought a lovely navy cashmere men’s Chesterfield winter coat for a mere $40 before deciding the size wasn’t right. Ditto on a pair of dark brown Taryn Rose shoes for $25 (retail $375) after concluding I didn’t wear enough of that shade.

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Because it’s the run-up to the holidays, the shop featured a raft of showy evening wear. I liked the sleeveless leather and tulle black Aidan Mattox dress for $40 (new with its $275 tags intact), which is shown above, and a silver brocade top that could be paired with a pastel violet floor length skirt for a bargain $14 for them both, thanks to the time-linked sales discounts. A lovely black lace dress with a long sateen jersey skirt was $40, new with tags on.

 

Also new was a Tahari long pale gold lamé dress for $55 (tag showed it was $258 at retail).

 

The racks carry clothes from sizes 0 to 22. The men’s department had shoes in pristine condition and the shirt rack had Brooks Brothers white oxford cloth standbys for $7 and an Ermenegildo Zegna version for $40 (retail price $150).

Bargains, thanks to the timed pricing, are plentiful. A Nine West black jersey dress, suitable for year-round office wear, was $17.60 with the stickered discount. A Jones New York black wool wrap skirt, original tags on, was $15. A Jessica Howard silver and black brocade dress listed a discounted tag of $12.

To deal with Chicago winters, there were new, tags-on $8 Thinsulate gloves, $3 earmuffs, a handsome array of near-new boots and a lovely Georgio Armani green sweater, made in Italy, for $75.

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The shop relies on items donated by supporters of the Mercy Home, which houses 140 youths in crisis in its original home for boys in the West Loop area and the girls home, located on the South Side in a mansion once owned by the Walgreen family. The charity has been helping children in poverty and distress since 1887 when Chicago Archbishop Patrick Feehan, a native of Ireland, urged local priests to solve the crisis of homeless boys. What was originally St. Paul’s Home for Working Boys became the current mission to help boys and girls facing abuse or distress from poverty. The printed reports from the charity, “The Waifs Messenger,” speaks to a bygone era, but the problems and Mercy House’s mission continues.

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Shopping at Mercy Beaucoup! gives you the win-win feeling that so many charity resale and consignment shops offer.

Mercy Beaucoup! Resale Boutique 1545 North Wells St., Chicago, IL 60610. 312-202-6794 

Open Tues-Sat. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. www.mercybeaucoup.com

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