Encino’s Hand Me Ups: New children’s resale shop part bargain bazaar, part community center

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SusanspillmanBY SUSAN SPILLMAN

With its colorful, handprint-design sign and window full of trendy little outfits, “Hand Me Ups” looks like your typical cute kids’ boutique from the outside.  Inside, however, you’ll discover a brand new children’s resale shop that’s part bargain bazaar, part community center.

Owners

Owners Laura Becerra, Hibiscus Kafar and Amy Ramaswami (not pictured) have created a store as well as a place for coffee, discussion and one afternoon a week math tutoring. Photos by Susan Spillman.

The two-month old store, located on Ventura Blvd. in Encino, is comfortably packed with gently-used clothing from a size 3 floral Gymboree dress ($9.00) to size 10 Juicy Couture sweat pants ($18.00) as well as toys such as teddy bears, board books and action figures ($1.00 and up).

Come Wednesday mornings, you’ll also find mom’s chatting over coffee and tea, checking out the bulletin board for announcements and flyers or inquiring about large items – such as cribs and baby swings – that the store keeps listed on its computer database.

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Everything is sold on consignment, with a 50/50 split.

“I was always comfortable with the idea of second-hand clothing but I wasn’t always comfortable brining my kids to some of these stores,” says co-owner Hibiscus Kafar. “I wanted a place that would be clean, fun and friendly.”  Kafar, a Northridge mother of four, started honing the concept with a couple of friends when she was laid off from her job as a senior gemologist at Ambar Diamonds last year.  “It was the first time that everyone we knew whether they were in banking or real estate or the entertainment industry was being affected by the economy and looking for ways to save money,” she explains.  “In these bad economic times we also wanted to create a sense of community.”

Toys

If items aren’t sold within three months, Hand Me Ups offers to keep them on the racks for another three months, donate them to charity or will return the items.

In addition to the Wednesday morning moms’ coffee klatch, Hand Me Ups holds children’s math classes Thursday afternoons, with a tutor who teaches elementary math using abacuses.

Kafar’s partners are Laura Becerra, a senior caregiver and mother of three daughters who lives in Palmdale and Amy Ramaswami, a bookkeeper turned stay-at-home mom of two who lives in Porter Ranch.  “Everyone brings something different to the table,” says Kafar.  “The three of us had no money, just hope and a prayer.”  With their husbands, they painted the interior walls lime green themselves, bought racks from a second-hand store and began gathering items from friends.

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The owners have created store that is clean, fun and friendly.

The store also sells a few lines of new, hand-made products, including clothing knit and crocheted by residents of the Jewish Home For the Aged in Reseda.  “The women there celebrate every time something is sold,” says Kafar.

Hand Me Ups is a boon too for those looking to pare down their kids’ cluttered closets.  “Sometimes I buy things that never get used,” says Deidre Cicinelli of Encino, who stops by with 11-month-old Sylvie and several bags of clothes.  “I usually wind up giving them to friends but thought I should try and get some money for some of this stuff,” she says.

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The store also sells a few lines of new, hand-made products, including clothing knit and crocheted by residents of the Jewish Home For the Aged in Reseda.

Everything is sold on consignment, with a 50/50 split.  If items aren’t sold within three months, Hand Me Ups offers to keep them on the racks for another three months, donate them to charity or will return the items.   “We want to be equally prosperous,” says Kafar, “a win/win situation for everybody.”

Hand Me Ups is located at 17005 Ventura Blvd., Encino, CA 91316 (818) 986-2000.  handmeups@gmail.com.   Hours are Tues.-Sat. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Susan Spillman is a former staff writer for USA Today.  She has also freelanced for a number of publications including:  Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide, The Wall Street Journal and Cosmopolitan.   She grew up in the San Fernando Valley and currently lives in Encino with her husband and two children.

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Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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