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Whitestone store has what children need

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In the final years of her life, Ann Disponzio talked frequently about how she would have loved to have opened a consignment shop.

After living most of her life in New York, the former Bellerose resident moved to West Palm Beach, Fla., where she discovered the concept of consignment, in which people bring items to a store which sells them and splits the profits with the item’s original owner.

Disponzio died nine years ago, but her granddaughter, Eleni Giakoumas of Whitestone, kept her dream in the back of her mind.

She was shopping for clothing for her young children at a going-out-of-business sale at a Whitestone luxury children’s boutique when the idea struck her to rent the space herself and turn it into a children’s consignment shop.

She called her sister, Whitestone resident Anna Xylouris, who hung up the telephone on her sister when she first told her about the idea, but eventually warmed to it. A month ago the store opened on the first floor of 150-51C 14th Ave., and the women´╗┐ named it Raggedy Ann’s to honor their grandmother, who had introduced them to consignment.

“She always wanted to do this, but she never was able to, so finally my sister and my mom and I finally did it,” Giakoumas said.

Raggedy Ann’s accepts new and gently used — or as Giakoumas calls them, “pre-loved” — clothing, toys, DVDs, maternity wear, strollers, furniture, playpens, accessories and any other items made for either pregnant mothers or children from newborns to 16-year-olds.

The store is rigorous about what it will take for consignment and Giakoumas, Xylouris and their mother, Louise Disponzio, a Whitestone resident who helps run the store, ensure that only high-quality items are accepted.

“Everything that comes to us has to be washed and in excellent, salable condition,” Giakoumas said. “We go over everything. It must have no missing buttons, no stains, the zippers have to work — everything.”

Many items in the store are brand new, as consigners often bring in unwanted gifts or items their children outgrew before they had the chance to use them. There are an array of top designers available at any given time, such as Ralph Lauren, DKNY, Hurley, Miss Me and Juicy Couture.

The consignment process at Raggedy Ann’s is simple: Accepted items are priced and displayed in the store and profits are split between the store and the consigner.

“When the store sells something, [the consigner] gets 40 percent and the store gets 60 percent, so no one loses in the situation,” Disponzio said.

The store has been a great success so far, Giakoumas said, to the point that she created a requirement that all potential consigners schedule an appointment before bringing in items and that the store now only accepts items that are season-appropriate, meaning winter items are not currently being accepted.

“I think it’s perfect in this economy to introduce this to Queens,” Giakoumas said. “It’s a new way to shop, because everything’s much cheaper.”

For more information or to set up an appointment to bring in potential items for consignment, call 718-767-7300.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

Updated 5:56 pm, October 10, 2011
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