Dillon Basse / Special to the News-Leader
Second Hand Rosie began as a lifelong dream of Rosanna Psulkowski. “Rosie,” as most people know her, had just recently become an empty nester after the youngest of her six children finally left for college. Now that they were out of the house pursuing their goals, Psulkowski decided it was time to pursue some of her own passions.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to have some sort of upscale resale in the area,” she said, “It had to be in the area though because I am going to be here for life.”
For years, friends of Psulkowski frequently told her they wanted something on the island like a secondhand shop but one that fit their age group, something in the downtown Historic District that they could walk to, something a little more upscale that they wouldn’t have to drive to the south end for. Her friends would also talk about having tons of extra clothing that they didn’t really know what to do with, so she put two and two together and Second Hand Rosie was born.
At first, she would have women tell her they were cleaning out their closets and she would buy it all out. Now, she has people who actually downsize women’s closets for a living working for her.
“I buy it all outright as opposed to consigning where six months later you get a check,” Psulkowski said. “I usually take one day and itemize everything and then write everybody a check. People love that.”
Business was going well, as it seemed to be for so many other small businesses owners, when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Psulkowski lives right across the street from her store, so during every day of the shutdown, she would look out and see her shuttered business. This led to some depressing days for her since she had no clue what was going to happen. However, this was not Psulkowski’s first experience with serious adversity.
“I’m a cancer survivor,” she said. “I’ve learned you have to put one foot in front of the other every day.”
That’s just what Psulkowski did. She would go into her store every day to scrub and clean everything she could. Every item of clothing was either hand washed, laundered, or dry-cleaned. She also spent a lot of her time shopping online for clothes so that there would be an abundance of new items for her customers when the store reopened. When she was finally able to open again, her persistence had paid off.
“It was like Christmas,” she said. “People were so excited. Everyone told me how happy they were to finally shop in a store again.”
Psulkowski is a people person, and she is all about the in-person experience of shopping, so when asked about how she saw a change in her social media use after the pandemic, she explained the only difference was that she actually had to start using it.
“My store is all about people coming in, touching, and trying things on,” she said. “Those live Facebook things … that’s not me.”
At Second Hand Rosie, customers are encouraged to come in and try things on. If they don’t feel comfortable with that, Psulkowski even lets them take the clothes home to try them on. She believes people are craving real, in-person social interaction.
“We’ve lost so much this year, and I think people just want to talk about it,” she added. “People come in and I serve them glasses of wine while they shop and they just talk to me about everything they’ve had to endure this year.”
Her advice for other small business owners in the area, many of whom are her friends, is to just not give up. Psulkowski also says to support each other. During the shutdown, she and her family were ordering takeout constantly from places like Wicked Bao, Ciao, Amelia Tavern, and Salty Pelican, just to name a few.
On top of supporting small businesses, Psulkowski’s number one goal is to empower women. This October, she will be donating 10% of her sales to Micah’s Place in Fernandina Beach to support women who have suffered from domestic abuse. She will also be donating anything she doesn’t sell to Micah’s in order to provide formal clothing for women who are trying to start careers after having to abruptly leave their previous situations.
Whether you’re shopping for your next dress for date night or you just need a place to drink a glass of wine and get some things off your chest, Psulkowski will welcome you to Second Hand Rosie. She also offers private shopping appointments. Call (904) 891-8986 for more information. Second Hand Rosie is located at 809 Beech St. in Fernandina Beach.
Editor’s note: Dillon Basse grew up on Amelia Island and recently graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in communications.