Warwick schoolteachers by day, and self-professed “shopaholics” by night, Cranston residents Karen Calabro and Jean Ranallo are realizing their dream of opening their own women’s consignment shop in their hometown.
Ana-Lia’s Women’s Consignment shop is opening for business on Saturday, May 25, after several months of whirlwind preparation and hard work by Ranallo and Calabro and their families. The opening of the store is a dream come true for the friends.
“We’ve wanted to do this for at least the past six years,” said Ranallo.
Calabro said that it was the love of shopping for bargains together that had the two friends dreaming of opening their own store.
“We have always been shopping buddies. We’re such shopaholics, every time we’d leave a store with a good bargain we’d say, ‘We could do this. We should open up our own store,’” Calabro said.
Ranallo said that knowing a good bargain on a high-end clothing item or accessory was their strength.
The women started tossing around the idea of starting their own business online, but once they did the research they realized it was too expensive to go that route, and they started looking for a local spot to open their own store.
“We really wanted to bring the store to Cranston. There’s lots of places like this in other cities and towns, but we really wanted to be in Cranston,” said Ranallo.
Once the two determined that they were looking for a retail spot, they began their search.
What came up was the quaint storefront at 729 Pontiac Avenue, directly across the street from Waterman Elementary School. With a beautiful tin ceiling on the inside, and big windows perfect for displays in the front, the women knew they’d found their spot.
Although the two had plenty of shopping experience and years of retail experience between them, owning a business has provided them with experience of a whole different kind.
“We both work full-time. We have jobs, husbands and families. There was a lot of ‘should we do it’ conversation,” said Ranallo.
Ultimately they went for it, and they are so excited that they did. Seeing their vision come to be has not been without stumbling blocks, but the two teachers have made each bump in the road a teachable moment.
“We’ve had lots of on-the-job training,” said Calabro. “We’ve had all kinds of issues with things like paint and software, but each one we tackle and move on. We’ve definitely persevered.”
The store name, Ana-Lia’s, is a combination of both Ranallo and Calabro’s daughter’s names.
“We are together because the kids met in first grade, so we decided to name the store after them,” said Calabro.
With their name chosen and their location settled, the women began advertising locally, asking for people to drop off their high-end, fine women’s consignment items at the store to be sold. In consignment agreements, the donor receives a part of what the item is sold for, as does the store. Before they knew it, they had clothing, shoes, purses and jewelry flowing in. The name brands that have come in so far include well-known names such as Michael Kors, Dolce, Bloomingdales, Salvatore Ferragamo, Joe’s Jeans, Carmar and Gianni Versace, to name a few.
“We’re so excited about some of the items we’ve gotten. They’re unusual and not your run-of-the-mill items,” said Ranallo. “We’ve even got matching shoes and purses, and gorgeous jewelry.”
The women hope to expand to items such as prom dresses and eveningwear as the business grows.
The store will open for business on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with Ranallo and Calabro on hand to show the items they’ve collected so far. They are still taking new pieces daily.
For more information, visit the website at www.analiasconsignment.com or call the store at 785-1022. The store also has a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/analias.consignment.