Beach towns are prime spots for consignment shopping, and not just on rainy days.
The Ladies’ Room in the Victorian seaside town of Cape May, N.J., is just a short three-block walk from the retail action on Washington Avenue, the three-block row of shops along a pedestrian walkway that make up Cape May’s main street. The walkway runs parallel to the town’s sparkling beaches along the Atlantic Ocean.
After strolling Washington Avenue, we encourage you to walk north past the town bandstand and charming Cape May Stage to Jackson Street, where you’ll find The Ladies’ Room, an eight-year-old consignment shop with informal and formal dresses, beach wear, shoes, handbags, jewelry and accessories. (There is free parking in the rear, a premium offering in a location so close to the beach.)
Housed in a turn-of-the-last century wooden frame building that had a nightclub and small hotel in its long history, this consignment shop does brisk business in summer season with lots of inventory turnover. Stop first for its ultimate bargains: a $5-per-item rack at the right as you step into the store. These sales are cash only – credit cards may be used for all other purchases. We found four fantastic little black dresses, a deep purple satin wedding guest dress and a chic black blazer among the pristine treasures on this rack. Marybeth, the owner, had just moved two dozen garments to this sale rack, so we saved $18 to $31 per item with the serendipity of good timing.
Prices on the rest of the well-organized rounds are, of course, higher than thrift stores as the labels tend to be better (Eileen Fisher, Lafayette 148). There was a good selection of barely used (and new with tags) handbags, including a beige “snake” structured tote with plentiful zippered pockets for $14 to an oversized beige and orange Coach canvas weekend tote for $65 (originally $240).
There are more beaded long formal gowns than you’d expect in a beach-oriented town. Mothers-of-the-bride and groom could do well by hitting this shop first on their quests. All dresses were in terrific condition and ranged from extra-large sizes to petites and from $26 to $75. Price tags are timed and longer-on-the-rack garments get reduced.
Don’t overlook the items in windows and shelving throughout this two-level store. Some of the best merchandise is on display. The sales staff is happy to quickly undo a display for your benefit.
Cape May is at the southern tip of New Jersey at Exit Zero on the Garden State Parkway. Located where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, is also is reachable by a 90-minute car ferry from Lewes, Delaware. Its unspoiled wetlands are a bird-watcher’s Mecca and its dozens of grand Victorian hotels host nearly year-round festivals (featuring strawberries, music, oysters, fun runs, local vineyards, beach bicycling, sustainable farming, African-American history, clamshell tossing and more music). From historic trolley tours to the incomparable Fralinger’s almond macaroon shop, there are plenty of reasons to visit this seaside resort. The Ladies’ Room is just one more.
The Ladies’ Room, 219 Jackson St., Cape May, NJ 08204. 609-770-7524
Open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day, usually from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Call for days/hours off-season.