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Changing Tides: Helga’s Choice Consignment gets new owner and name

Business by: Chrissy Ruggeri, September 21, 2022

Helga Bagatais of Helga’s Choice Consignment with the shop's new owner, Denise Glozek, a mom of four and professional organizer.

A longtime consignor and professional organizer, Denise Glozek has made a new home on Main Street, in what was previously Helga’s, the long-standing, well-loved consignment store in Northport Village. A Huntington resident and single mom to four children, Denise is bringing her professional background to the shop, where she’ll continue to offer a welcoming and unique experience for patrons of all ages.

As a professional organizer for the past 15 years, Denise would visit clients’ homes to straighten out their tangible items and set systems in place so that their homes stayed neat and orderly. “By nature, I’m organized. From when my kids were in first grade, they could run my household,” Denise said during a conversation in her shop last week, standing behind her desk while her daughter, Ryan, sorted through clothes.

Denise taught her four children household basics at a very young age and, as a result, they knew how to empty the dishwasher, turn off the water main, mow the lawn, do their own laundry and more. She found in her work, as she went into clients’ homes to organize, they’d often complain about “doing it all” themselves and how hard that was to manage and maintain. She said having four kids at home forced her to “walk the walk,” and seeing other families struggle inspired her to start speaking at assemblies in local schools, encouraging children (and parents) to learn life skills so that they’d be better capable in school and beyond.

Denise first became familiar with Helga when she shopped at Cow Harbor Kids Consignment with her children. “It was the go-to. You were in a pickle, you needed something, go to Helga at Cow Harbor. It was awesome,” she said. When Helga moved down Main Street and opened her consignment boutique in 2014, Denise continued to shop there and became one of her first consignors. But it wasn’t until last winter, almost twenty years later, that Helga asked Denise to come into the shop and help organize the backroom. Denise started spending time there, doing what she does best. Helga took note of Denise’s passion and skill and one day, Denise explained, Helga said to her: “I think I found the person I’m willing to sell my shop to.” This was a surprise to Denise, but something clicked when she considered the offer.

Helga wanted to leave “her baby” in good hands and wasn’t willing to sell it to just anyone. She knew that Denise would put the same amount of love and care into the space as she had for so many years. When Helga asked her about taking over the shop, Denise said she paused; she needed time to think it through. “I called my two daughters, my sister and one of my dear girlfriends and said ‘Girls, what do you think?’”

Her personal advisors agreed: Helga’s would be the perfect place for Denise to settle in and hang her hat. Prior to taking over the shop, Denise had been traveling all over Long Island for her clients, from Queens to Dix Hills to Commack. Purchasing Helga’s would give her a homebase.

Denise’s friends and family also knew that the shop went well with her existing focus on sustainability. “I have never been into retail, I’m not a fashion bug by any means, but I’ve always been into reducing, reusing and recycling,” she said. Denise makes an effort to purchase only items that can be used over and over again, so owning a consignment shop, where clothing gets upcycled, and another chance at being worn and loved, is the perfect fit. A few days after the offer, Denise gave Helga an answer: “Yes.”

Denise worked with Helga for two months to learn the ropes. She and Helga made the change of ownership official on July 1, and the transition was seamless. They didn't even have to close the store; Denise’s two daughters handled the desk while their mom signed the papers and afterwards, they all got to work.

Having an organizing background has been essential in her new role, Denise said. Today, there are over 3,600 consignors that come into the shop with their used (and sometimes unused) items. She feels a strong sense of responsibility for the clothing because they belong to other people, so she has implemented a similar – but updated – system to Helga’s, to care for and keep track of the men and women’s clothing, accessories and more.

Denise has set some new rules for consignors as well. She asks that each item comes clean and on a hanger. The items have to be in the current season and in style, too. Some brands won’t be taken, including Old Navy, Target, Shein and H&M.

The backroom has become a well-oiled machine, although Denise says they still have work to do. She has set up a system that gets clothes in, sorted, tagged and added to the floor for their six-week stay. Although not a requirement, consignors are encouraged to donate their clothes if they are not sold within six weeks, with items going to Career Couture Boutique, a nonprofit run through the Suffolk County Department of Labor that provides free clothing for job interviews and employment opportunities.

With Helga’s blessing, the shop name will be changed. Denise didn’t make this decision right away; she wanted to sit with the name and see how it felt. But now as she sees the changes taking shape, she’s ready to move forward with the new name: Changing Tides Consignment. “I won’t change much on the inside. I still want people to come in and feel like it’s Helga’s, it’s warm and cozy, but I feel like it’s mine now,” Denise explained.

Her goal is to have people come into a clean, tidy, organized and welcoming space. She wants to have something for everyone, from young women in their 20s, to women who have been shopping at the store since its opening. She has a rack of men’s shirts too, and always invites the men inside when they’re sitting on the outdoor bench, waiting for their wives to shop.

Denise’s daughter and some girlfriends have been helping her at the store as she gets acclimated. Ryan, her oldest daughter, is a 25-year-old history teacher who previously worked as a permanent substitute for the Cold Spring Harbor school district, after graduating from the University of Alabama. She plans to move to Charleson, South Carolina in the spring to attend graduate school. At that point, Denise will lose her right-hand girl, but the women are confident that they’ll have everything running smoothly by then. Her younger daughter, Brooke, has been helping her with social media, and plans to ramp up Changing Tides’ online presence in the coming months.

All of Helga’s consignors are still in the system and new ones are welcome, but you do have to make an appointment. In fact, if you called today to make an appointment, you wouldn’t get in until mid-December (so get your winter items together). Although Denise hates turning people away, and calls it her biggest challenge, she knows that sticking to this system works and is fair to all consignors.

As for Helga, who we all know and love, she has retired and plans to spend more time with her elderly father in Holland. She is also getting hip replacement surgery, which she had put off until her business was sold and in good hands.

Changing Tides Consignment is located at 139 Main Street in Northport Village.

With Helga’s blessing, Denise has decided to start fresh with a new shop name, Changing Tides Consignment.