By Beth Altena
“I’m excited to be back,” said Tracy McKay, the former and now again current owner of Pinstripes and Polka Dots. McKay was a fixture in Rockford with her cheerfully-named shop which was open for business in another location in downtown Rockford from 2004 to 2008. She is now re-opened in the space vacated by Gumballs & Overalls,which closed its doors in May of this year.
The business is a consignment shop which also carries an assortment of furnishings, room décor and some home-made items. It caters to customers buying for infants/newborns through young adult as well as maternity clothes.
“Customers can bring in their children’s clothes and they get a profit,” McKay said. She noted that consigners have the option of 40 percent of the sale of the clothes, or can choose an in-store credit for 50-percent of the sale price. The contract for sale is a 90 day timeframe. Customers can have McKay price their items while they wait or drop off consignment and come back later.
The hand-made items include fun capes ranging from Michigan or Michigan State, superman, the classic Rockford R on an orange cape and a variety of other super hero selections. Pinstripes is also a vendor for hand-made doll clothes that fit the American Girl dolls, jewelry, newborn knitted and crocheted hats, frames and prints for kids rooms and lots of décor featuring owls, which are very popular.
McKay said the first four years of Pinstripes was “a good run” but the decision to close doors came as personal lives were busy with her sister starting her family and needing more time for that. “Now my kids are older and it’s the right time to be back,” McKay said.
Consignment and resale stores have become very popular as American consumers are more interested in shopping locally and making better use of goods. Kids clothing are a perfect example of a second use for a product, since kids grow so quickly. Anyone with children will likely remember the frustration of purchasing clothing or back to school outfits only to see their child rapidly outgrown the size. Consignment is also popular because inventory changes constantly, so high-quality, brand name items are always coming in and selling for a fraction of what they would cost brand new in a mall store.
McKay said she recently moved to downtown Rockford and is enjoying getting to reknow the town. Plenty of former and now current customers have stopped in to welcome her back. “We are really enjoying the town and the people here,” she said.
If McKay’s sister is less present in store operations, her daughter Abby, is more so than she might have been five years ago. Now 15, Abby helps in the shop, which is cheerfully decorated and boasts the classic creaky wood floors found in several of the historic buildings in downtown. The space has a cool tin ceiling and even a fun, funky display in the center which is an actual birch tree. “I always wanted a tree in my shop and now I have one,” said McKay. The lighting is nice and bright and a play room in the back allows shoppers to browse at their leisure while children play with toys.
McKay said she believes the restaurants in her stretch of Courtland help draw visitors to her area east of the “square” of Squires Street. She also looks forward to the upcoming Harvest Festival, which draws crowds to downtown.
Pinstripes and Polka Dots is open Mondays noon to 5 p.m., on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday the store is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Thursdays it is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday it is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can reach Pinstripes by telephone at (616)884-5242. The store has specials weekly, so visit often to find that special buy.