One day in August, as a new consignment store opened up in the corner of a strip mall, a group of teenage girls from my neighbourhood, Quebrada, got their first glimpse of the new store.
It was a place they had never been to before, but they had an eye on.
They had been told they were in for a surprise.
The young women, who were dressed in the latest fashion, had arrived in a white van and had spent the night in the consignment shop, buying everything from t-shirts to shoes.
They were there to shop for their clothes, but it was also to make new friends and make new memories.
The shop’s owner, Ricardo, says he has been collecting clothes for several years, but has always felt “like an outsider.”
His customers come from all walks of life, but he feels they are all coming to his store to be friends.
He has a special place in his heart for them.
“I love to meet new people, but I also love to make friends,” he said.
Ricardo, who works in a hardware store and is single, and his friends go shopping together.
They meet up in person once or twice a week, but for the most part, they go to consignment shops together.
But this year, they went on an extended shopping spree.
It started with the t-shirt that Ricardo bought for his friend, but also included items from his wife’s wardrobe.
The store’s owner says it is a blessing to meet people and make friends at consignments.
“It’s not about finding out what you like, it’s about how you like to be.
It’s a good way to find your niche,” Ricardo said.
A couple of weeks ago, the pair went shopping together for a wedding dress.
The shopkeeper had to ask his wife to pay for the dress, but Ricardo and his pals managed to pay the full price.
It’s a small change for Ricardo, but his shop has made a big difference in the lives of the young people.
“If we have people who come here, they’ll know that we care about them, that we want them to succeed.
We want them here and they’ll come back.
And that’s how it’s going to be,” Ricardo explained.
Rescue workers were able to rescue the couple from the consign shop and a neighbour also helped them get to safety.
It took a while, but one of the women who helped rescue the two women and the couple escaped unharmed.
But Ricardo says the main reason he has felt so good about this consignment business is because it’s helping him become part of a community.
“The shop has changed the life of a lot of people in our neighbourhood.
We are happy to be part of that.
I feel like a new person.”
The community at large, including the women and men who have been shopping at the shop, say it’s the same thing.
The owners of the shop said it has been a success.
“There’s been a lot more support from people, from other shop owners, from the community, because it has changed our life,” Ricardo added.
But, the shop’s owners say the real success comes from the young women who visit the shop.
They are the people that help Ricardo and other people to shop together.
The business is growing, with two more shops set to open in the next two weeks.
The owners said the consigning trend is changing the culture of the community.
“The more we shop, the more we get involved.
And then the more that people will buy from us,” Ricardo told the CBC’s Isabelle Gaudin.
The owner of the two other shops, Carlos Ponce, said he is also hoping the trend will continue, and that more young people will become consigners.
“What is happening is that a lot young people are choosing to go out to the consigned area, and now they’re not afraid of going back, because they’re going to have a good time with other people.
And they’re also not going to shop in a big store like the mall because they don’t want to have to buy clothes,” Ponce said.