Tamara Otero-Tovar took a giant leap of faith when she opened her 1,908 square-foot Ahwatukee Trade-Up Women’s Consignment Shoppe last July.
Now she’s sharing the holiday season with needy families with a toy drive through Friday.
“I wanted to share with the community and was looking for something local that targeted local children in need, we could help benefit during this Christmas Season,” said Otero-Tovar, who owns the shop with her husband, Alexander Tovar.
“I found a number of nonprofits helped kids out of the area and even out of country but then, almost accidentally, discovered the Kyrene Foundation and their Kyrene Family Resource Center, and I knew this is who we wanted to help this year.”
Her 6-year-old son Sebastian attends Kyrene de las Lomas Elementary School – right across the street from the store.
Otero-Tovar and her husband have two other sons, Mountain Pointe High School alum Antonio Tovar, a varsity basketball player who graduated in 2017, and 4-year-old Stefano Tovar, who often accompanies his mom to the store.
Her husband Tovar sometimes works from the store in his career as a diamond and commodities wholesaler.
Retired from the U.S. Army after 20 years, he values and sometimes purchases items customers bring in by appointment only. Sometimes his customers opt to trade for shop items.
He’d resided in Ahwatukee as a child, as did she, and has owned two homes here. They purchased their new Ahwatukee house in September 2018.
The couple married last October at the Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, California, after nine years together.
Otero-Tovar’s inspiration for the shop grew from her own enjoyment of consignment and resale stores she began frequenting as a child.
“I’ve been going to consignment shops all over the valley since I could remember,” said Otero-Tovar, who was born in Mesa and moved to Ahwatukee at age 19.
“Growing up I remember all the thrift stores and consignment shops my mother would go to. I loved the ‘wonder what I’ll find today?’ feeling. After being a stay-at-home mom for six years and having two younger kids, going out became such a hassle and I’d always hoped to have a consignment shop locally,” she said.
Her expansive shop contains many high-end labels in clothing, shoes and purses.
“The reason for taking this large space was I wanted my customers to feel calm and not have a hectic store packed with too many things overwhelming them,” she explained.
“I personally hate going to clothing stores where it’s just so packed and you don’t have too much room for comfort. This place feels very light and airy.”
She said she’s received “many compliments on how open the space is,” though she admitted “others think it’s too plain.”
“I’m more into the minimalist lifestyle,” Otero-Tovar added. “It’s not perfect and definitely needs some decorations, but we’re doing everything little by little as money is very tight at the moment. Mortgage and rent have eaten up my savings.”
Despite tight funds, and in remembrance of her own youthful financial struggles, Otero-Tovar felt the compulsion to help children-in-need this season.
“I struggled growing up in a household with five children and one income. My mother was a stay-at-home mom and my dad was the only one working. We relied a lot on resources, and food banks at times when things got really hard,” she said.
“Even here in Ahwatukee, I personally know a few families I help out with rides to and from school because they don’t have the means. I’m always making sure I help out when I can.”
She recalled when she was growing up, “we relied on parent volunteers to take my siblings and I to school and it has always stuck with me to do the same for those in need.”
Otero-Tovar said new toy donations will be accepted through Dec. 20 so the Kyrene Foundation Family Resource Center can get the toys to Kyrene families in need.
To sweeten the toy drive at her store – located in the Equestrian Centre on Warner Elliot Loop – Otero-Tovar is offering a 15 percent discount per each unwrapped new toy donation.
Her shop boasts a wide selection of name-brand women’s dresses, sweaters, skirts and slacks to shoes and handbags.
Monique Cole of Chandler is one repeat customer who’s glad she stumbled upon Trade-Up Women’s Consignment.
“I have been traveling all across the Valley shopping at resale and consignment stores since I was little with my mom,” said Cole, who counts among her favorite finds a cross-body light blue Michael Kors purse.
“I’ve also purchased a few great name pieces, one of them, brand new, with the tags still attached,” said Cole. “I’ve always been drawn to little mom-and-pop shops and this is just that place! I love how friendly and helpful Tamara and her husband are every time I stop by to shop or bring items in to sell.”
Trade-Up Women’s Consignment is on Facebook, where owners regularly post photos of newer items like a Max Mara blazer for $28 and a vintage John Carlyle camel-colored suede and leather jacket for $65.
The upscale consignment store, 12020 S. Warner Elliot Loop, is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., but closed 3:40-4:30 p.m. so Otero-Tovar can pick up her son from school.
Information: TradeUpWC.com and Instagram @tradeupwomensconsignment.