By Damaris Hay
Judy Roth for six years owned a Surfside consignment shop, Judy's Armoire, and was tired of going it alone.
A few miles south, Karen Cookson had her vintage boutique, La Maison Chi Chi, for nearly as long. She also was up for a change.
In October 2006, with no hostile takeover involved, the two shops merged: Armoire Chi Chi.
"Judy was alone. I was alone, " said Cookson, a former model and stylist. "I was interested in growing my business bigger and I didn't want to do everything by myself."
They revamped Judy's store and created a one-stop shop for high-end designer consignment and vintage pieces. About 60 percent of the stock is consignment, 40 percent vintage, said Roth, a former schoolteacher.
Elegant and quaint, Armoire Chi Chi is chock full of designer items. It has handbags, shoes, dresses, silk scarves, jeans, artwork and tall glass cases stocked with one-of-a-kind jewelry. Clientele includes fashion-forward middle schoolers, news anchors and ladies who lunch. Marisa Tomei and Star Jones are among celebs who make rounds at the store.
"We have loyal customers and we're very thankful for that, " Cookson said.
Prices range from $20 for a necklace to $9,000 for an Hermès bag. Roth says she accepts only those garments in pristine condition.
A few years ago, vintage was red-hot, shown everywhere from elite New York runway shows to mass-market Banana Republic shops. But the owners are quick to say that celebrities, socialites and fashionistas have worn vintage and consignment for decades and continue to seek it out faddish or not.
"Vintage is in your soul -- it's always going to be popular to people who understand it, " Cookson said.
Armoire Chi Chi, 9484 Harding Ave., Surfside; 305 868-3870
What we love: White and black mink '70s bomber jacket, $600
Why: Just because your zip code isn't ultra high end doesn't mean you can't be covered up and fabulous
What: Koret patchwork handbag, $250
Why: Coveted and special for sure -- and shouldn't all your bags be a reflection of you?
What: The shoe shelves: selections include Prada, Sonia Rykiel, and YSL just to name a few...
Why: Because you can count on very few sharing your look of lime green patent leather Chanel.
Shop a rainbow of vintage shoes at Armoire Chi Chi. Photo: C.W. Griffin/Miami.com staff