Article Written by Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt for TheForward.com
Yoni Chesner was no fashion expert when he was growing up. He was a yeshiva student; his first job was making $6 an hour in a bagel shop in his hometown of Baltimore.
“I went to the clearance section at Ross,” he says now, chuckling.
But one visit to the Saks Fifth Avenue Company store in Aberdeen, Maryland, popular among local religious Jews on the hunt for good suits, not only changed his style, but his entire career. Chesner was nineteen at the time he first visited the store, which sells merchandise that is returned to Saks stores nationwide, and he saw a business opportunity.
“I bought a few designer sweaters there, and put them up on eBay,” he said. “Before I knew it, I turned $300 into $900.”
“In the beginning it was a disaster,” he said. “Customers were like, what is this thing? But we’ve turned it around since, we’ve built inventory through lots of channels, thank God, bli ayin hara.”
At the moment, a $435-Burberry scarf is now going for $245; another flash deal offers a $1,850-Chloe shoulder bag for $995.
“We don’t have the customer who wants to walk into Chanel and buy a handbag at full price,” he says. “Yeah, you feel like a million bucks, they offer you champagne while you shop. But for us, we are giving the bargain, the thrill of the find. That’s our customer base.”
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