Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this


By Miriam Raftery

September 22, 2008 (LA MESA) - If your budget is tight amid today’s rising prices, take heart! A fun way to shrink your clothing budget without sacrificing style is to treat yourself to a shopping spree in a delightful East County resale shop.

My personal favorite resale outlet is Act II, which has two stores in downtown La Mesa, both on La Mesa Blvd. I first discovered this treasure trove over two decades ago, when I worked for the San Diego Symphony and often needed elegant outfits for concerts or parties. Founded 26 years ago by Dolores Butler (top left photo, with fashionably matching dogs), Act II is now operated by Dolores’ daughter, Deanne Ross.

“We buy everything from sportswear to evening wear,” said Ross, who added that the shops purchase gently-worn clothing in top-notch condition (no stains or rips) plus occasional new clothing acquired by the owner on special shopping trips. All items must be current fashions purchased within the past year or two. Shops also carry new accessories including jewelry, scarves, purses and hats as well as new and used shoes.
Act II even offer personal shopping services free to help customers select flattering outfits and accessories.“People who are fashion challenged like coming to us,” Ross noted.

I invited a friend, Gayle Early, and a store employee, Andrea Froelicher to model complete outfits in three categories: weekend casual clothes, business attire, and evening wear suitable for a night on the town. Instead of sticker shock, we savored easy indulgence with these head-to-toe ensembles ranging from $58.40 to $96.04 – fully loaded with accessories exuding glitz, glamour and panache.



“I like layers and hats,” said Andrea, whose weekend casual outfit (photo right) included a Ralph Lauren cream jacket ($18.99), David Buchman sweater ($15.50) and classic Vertigo black slacks ($18.50). A perky new hat ($16.95), scarf ($14.50), shoes ($10.99)and leather handbag ($9.95) completed Andrea’s attire, all for just $80.43.

“I love this because it’s something I never would have chosen for myself,” Gayle said of her casual wear ensemble, which included A Ralph Lauren shirt ($8.50), Calvin Klein jeans ($10.50), plaid hunter’s cap ($9.95), and camel-colored jacket ($11.95). A leafy necklace ($15.50), boots ($15.95) and scarf ($4.50) added warm fall touches, for a total of $76.05. Don’t these lovely ladies look game for fall football on a cool, crisp autumn eve?


Office wear: Andre and Gayle with
store owner Deanne Ross


Next came business wear suitable for working in an office. Andrea modeled a black Sisley blazer ($14.50), black slacks ($18.50), and silk blouse ($8.99) accentuated by a white silk scarf ($4.50), bold necklace ($8.50) and whimsical new cow print purse ($22.95), totaling only $76.44.

Gayle’s professional look included a green St. John knit sweater with fringed cuffs and hem ($19.90), black pants ($10.50), and Chicos shell top ($9.50). New earrings ($5.50), necklace ($8.50) and classic black scarf ($4.50) completed Gayle’s adventure in power outfit, which cost just $58.40—such a deal!



Poised for a glitzy night on the town (left photo), Andrea opted for a sexy, persimmon-hued evening gown by Jessica McClintock priced at an unbelievably low $28.50. Shimmery gold wrap ($14.95), sparkly shoes ($9.95), gold purse ($8.50), dazzling faux amethyst necklace ($15.50) and earrings ($8.50) added to the elegant effect – all for just $86.90.

Gayle chose a two-piece black evening ensemble with shimmering silver embroidery ($34.50). Bebe high-heeled strappy shoes ($20.99), silver wrap ($14.99), glitzy bracelet ($12.50) and hoop earrings ($ 8.50) completed her opulent yet sophisticated outfit for a bargain hunter’s dream price of $91.48.

I saved the best for last. Once you’ve worn those special occasion clothes, you can get part of your investment back by reselling them Act II, which unlike most resale shops pays cash instead of requiring a consignment.

For more information on store locations, hours, or buying days and times, visit

Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.