Corner Shop

How to Score a Find at The Guild Shop

Go ahead, get that designer bag—it’s for charity.

By Sarah Gabbart October 8, 2013

Tucked into a cozy warehouse on Dunlavy sits a Houston treasure. Racks upon racks stuffed with the kind of diversity that makes up our city—blue jeans here, St. John suits there—sit among cases of fine jewelry and fun baubles. Among the sad clown portraits and behind every Hawaiian-print Mumu waits a serious score. At the Guild Shop, fortune favors the patient—and the consistent.

Louisa Symmes, executive director of The Guild Shop.

Voted the city’s best resale shop on numerous occasions, The Guild Shop is filled with just the kind of things that keep regulars coming back: mid-century modern furniture and high-dollar art are some of the store’s biggest draws, as are the gently-used designer items like a recently-spotted Louis Vuitton Speedy bag for a third of the cost. The trick to finding what you’re searching for, says Executive Director Louise Symmes, is to come back daily.

The Guild Shop is known for killer finds. What are your most popular items?
When we started in 1962 it was the mid-century—now that style is very popular. We get [items from that era] in very often and they fly out the door! As far as clothing, people like the vintage look. We don’t specialize in vintage, but we’re always getting in those kinds of items. We’re now focusing on a new program we call “Premier Designers” for high-end accessories—we have a lot of beautiful designer handbags, scarves and other stuff. Our goal is to get the word out that we want folks to consign their designer items here—being this close to River Oaks has helped us get stuff that's in great condition. 

We’re very well known for our jewelry—we have really high-end items, like Roberta Coin and vintage Mexican silver form the 30s and 40s, but we also have inexpensive costume jewelry. We also have a lot of really great furniture—real wood, very stylish pieces. A lot of moms come in to help furnish their child’s first apartment with real furniture for IKEA prices.

A beautiful mid-century dresser found at The Guild Shop.

Any tips on snagging something great?
Come daily. We put new inventory out every day. People that get the best deals here come back regularly. 

Any great items you’ve picked up over the years?
Sadly not too many—usually I’m cashiering and checking people out going “I wish I would have seen that!” You have to get to the good stuff fast to snatch it up! I did get a Michael Kors bag once that only needed a little work to look good as new—it was a find! 

A Louis Vuitton Speedy handbag, Calvin Klein dress, and a pair of Kate Spade shoes, all at The Guild Shop. All for a fraction of retail cost.

Can you tell me a bit more about The Guild Shop’s mission?

The Guild Shop
2009 Dunlavy

Our mission is to serve the elderly in the community as a resale shop through, primarily, financial assistance to St. James House. We were founded in 1962 by some women at St. John the Divine church and we’ve been in business ever since. This is our third location. Around the same time, St. James House was being built for the Episcopal clergy and these women had an idea that they wanted to have a consignment shop where the proceeds go to charity. They were determined women and they did it—they have been around for over 50 years. [In addition to consignment items] we also take donations and offer a service that picks up large donations and handles estate sales.

The most important part of what we do is help elderly people in need. We’re a Christian ministry and we keep that in mind when working with the community, our customers and our volunteers, without whom we couldn’t exist. We have over 150 volunteers that work here—six days a week—and they keep this place running. It’s a big group of people working for a good cause. Together, we give over a quarter of a million dollars a year to help the elderly.

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