Fashion store owner acts on her instincts

Unusual pieces are the norm and in stock at Act Two

Whether it’s a Birger Christensen mink coat, a mourning dress from 1880 or an orange salt-water crocodile handbag from Australia, Inga Welsman equates finding fashionable pieces to locating treasure.

“How do I pick the items? By my nose,” she says. “It’s strictly basically if it is unusual. It has to be unusual and they have to be in tip-top shape.”

Sixteen years ago she started Act Two as a second hand shop and then shifted her focus to vintage and designer items for both men and women.

“It came from a secondhand store to a treasure chest basically where people really look for treasures, whether it’s a hat or a beautiful handbag or a Chloé dress or a Dolce & Gabbana dress or an Armani suit,” she says. “It’s a treasure trove, it’s not a second hand store in that respect anymore, it’s more people looking for the piece.”

Although she has always been located on Mt. Pleasant Road, in December she relocated to a bigger location taking over the space from the recently closed Bean Sprout children’s boutique near Penrose Road. Welsman says she was initially drawn to the area through her own shopping experiences before she decided to start her own business.

“I was a shopper here for antiques so I thought it fits right into it,” she says. “All the high-end stuff with the beautiful furnishings.”

She chose the name Act Two because it symbolized the second act the clothes, shoes, handbags and furs are getting, although she now also carries new designer fashions.

“My personal highlights are basically when I find really cool stuff,” she says. “That can be once a week or maybe only every three months, but really exceptional, beautiful things.”

Over the years she says she’s also had celebrity encounters such as Nicole Kidman, Johnny Depp, Angela Bassett and Penny Johnson Jerald, who played First Lady Sherry Palmer on 24 and is currently on Castle and who proceeded to invite Welsman out for drinks at The Sutton Place Hotel.

Welsman says her customers have ranged in age from 12 to 94-year-olds and says her goal is for her clientele to be fashionable and chic.

“Ninety-four-year-olds, they have a deja-vu at the vintage like, ‘oh I remember this’ and the teenagers, 12, 14-year-olds they start getting into these little capelets from the ’50s and ’60s or they come in for a pair of shoes,” she says. “And the 90-year-olds want to be chic too.”

About this article:

By: Ann Ruppenstein
Posted: Feb 9 2012 3:59 pm
Filed in: Business
Edition: Toronto