When Sue McCarthy opened her first consignment store in St. Louis, there were about twenty others. Every one of them is closed now. Her business model was “tell people what you’re going to do, and do it right.” It worked. A closet canvasser of celebrities and the founder of a multimillion-dollar resale empire known around the world for its abundance of Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci and Prada, Sue McCarthy—founder and CEO of the Vault Luxury Resale and star of reality TV’s Resale Royalty (The Style Network) — has made a name for herself by going after big names. Ironically, she didn’t even have a name until she was five years old and growing up, her family’s house didn’t have plumbing or walls, let alone closets. Through unbelievable adventures and adversity, she beat the odds of her humble beginnings and has achieved acclaim as the nation’s upscale resale queen. In her new autobiography, Good, Better, Best, McCarthy takes readers behind the scenes of the world of luxury resale and into the closets of some of the world’s wealthiest and most stylish women—including celebrities and even Vegas call girls! She has rubbed elbows with Oprah, Heidi Klum, and Rachel Zoe, who produced the 2013 reality TV show that featured her and her daughters in their St. Louis store
How did you get into the industry?
I never ever paid full price when shopping. The first time I went into a consignment shop, I knew I could do it and do it better. We have really redefined resale and changed the industry at The Vault Luxury Resale.
Any emerging industry trends?
I think successful resale store owners are working more with social media; in this industry now you have to let the public know what you have to offer! I see more and more resale businesses getting more and more involved in their communities. When you’re a small business, you want to give back to the community in which you live: this breeds success.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
The resale industry, as a whole, is expanding. People are editing their closets more frequently and they want quality but at a lower price point. They want to touch, feel and see the labels.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
I always wanted to own a business that nurtured women. I believe in beautiful fashion for everyone—no matter the economic status. Now, of course, very affluent women shop at our store because of the brands we carry, but you’ll also see folks who stop in for a shirt or pair of earrings because we carry items at all price points.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
The Vault Luxury Resale has worked with so many local designers. Now, we are working with new designers to have an innovative local designer showcase – before 2019 hope to have that in place. It would feature racks and cases of items designed by local talent.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
Contributing to the community and using our gorgeous space to host events. The Vault Luxury Resale hosts 4-6 events per month and new people are introduced to our space and store. We’ve hosted events for Salvation Army, Boys and Girls Club, and other charities and organizations.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
Most difficult challenge: changing business mode from consignment to buying outright was a major shift. Prior to that, our staff canvased suppliers to see what they wanted. We found out what people wanted and we gave it to them.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
Our service is unparalleled in the industry – nobody provides the service that we do – first encounter: need help – they carry things in for them. We often provide food and drinks. Shopping at The Vault Luxury Resale is an experience.
How do you motivate others?
ALWAYS do the right thing.
It’s a huge motivation to people when they recognize that they can always trust you to do the right thing and honor your word and commitments.
Career advice to those in your industry?
Everyone should read “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. I read this book at least 20 years ago and still recommend it to anyone starting a business today. Its simple message still holds true – “As a man thinketh so a man is.” When I read his book, I realized that his business recommendations closely aligned with my life principles. I have used his 13 steps to success in many of my business decisions. The collaborative wisdom of the most successful people in the world has transformed how I approach business challenges.
As the leader of a business, how do you ensure you have adequate corporate governance?
Make the rules and practices very clear to the staff – what you want them to say/do because they’re a direct representation of The Vault Luxury Resale.
What do I do best?
I am a pretty great networker. I care about people and am good at letting them know I care about them. People may not remember what you said to them, but they will remember how you made them feel. I try to make people feel really good.
Because of my humble beginnings, I go out of my way to treat everyone the same—from millionaires to those living on the street. It’s a blessing to make a difference in someone’s life.
What makes me the best version of myself?
People have told me that I’m one of the most generous people they know. I believe that if you give, you get. I strongly believe The Vault Luxury Resale thrives because we give so much to causes we care about.
What are my aspirations?
I’m 70, I’ll be 71 – retired, then came back to work
I love being at the store – would like to be off a little bit more, but at the present time it’s too busy
I would like to have more staff in place – on a hunt for those who will match the culture and work ethic at The Vault Luxury Resale.
I want to continue growing the business, but enjoy the success of the present moment!
My Biggest Success?
I think my biggest success is to be a role model for young people – if you live your life with honesty, integrity, and generosity you can’t help but be successful. It makes my heart smile when someone comments on the fact that they realize that we are where we are because of that. To be that positive role model for young women is my greatest success.
My Most Challenging Moment?
I would have to say, it was knowing that I could do whatever I wanted – convincing myself that I could believe in me. Once I learned that, I never had to count on someone else for my success or my happiness – I knew I was responsible for that. I am the reason it will happen and has happened.
Mantra: I am a child of God filled and surrounded by His perfect love and peace. I say that probably 100 times a day.
I use my ‘I ams’ – I am healthy, I am happy, etc.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
Inspired by Mahatma Ghandi – Mother Theresa – Luz Long (Carl Ludwig “Luz” Long) He was the German man who befriended Jesse Owens: in the face of all that adversity, he did the right thing and befriended him. A person of excellence is someone doing the right thing when no one is looking and when it’s not necessarily easy
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
Vancouver – it’s just a beautiful, vibrant city
My Favorite Products/Objects?
A good Tumi luggage and handbags – well-made, wonderful quality
LOVE to go to a good spa (favorite: Mii Amo in Sedona, AZ)
My Current Passions?
At this stage of my life, I’m very much into comfort. I like to fly first class (because I travel so much)!
A nice, comfortable car – Always driven a Cadillac and now I have my Chrysler 300!