When Karlin Clark shared with her husband her idea of selling used clothes in the spring of 1999, he welcomed it with laughter.
Clark, owner and manager of San Marcos' Second to None Upscale Resale, first conceived the idea when her husband was struggling to sell the building where the consignment shop is now located at 142 W. San Antonio St. Despite her husband's initial skepticism, within three weeks she had the building full of clothes. The idea was not an easy sell because, according to Clark, there were no other consignment shops in the area at the time.
"It just wasn't a big thing, at least here in San Marcos," Clark said.
In the 15 years it has been open, Second to None has grown from 300 consignors in its first year to its current number of several thousand consignment accounts a year.
The shop has grown in other ways, too. Twelve years ago, a friend talked Clark into selling the friend's couch at the shop. Clark was so pleased with the profit that she decided to permanently add furniture to the shop's selection. A new floor plan for the shop includes knocking down some walls and moving all of the clothes to the upper level to make room for furniture items.
Elise Gervais, who does contracted work for Second to None's website, said anybody who walks into the store recognizes Clark as the "lady with the crazy, wonderful red hair and big personality."
Charity has also become a significant part of Clark's business venture. In addition to donating many of the shop's items to various organizations in the area, Clark serves on the advisory council of Hands of Hope, an educational program that aims to give women life and job skills. Clark's mother, Mev Allen, helps outfit the women in clothes appropriate for their classes, and all the clothes the women wear at their graduation comes from Second to None.
"The desire is to get them off the streets into jobs, into lifestyles that pull them out of the circumstances that they're in," Clark said. "It is amazing. They come in and just leave like butterflies."