Portland native Kerianne Heil Burchardt is ready to mark six years in business (in March 2020) as the owner of her consignment shop, Savvy Swap. Her journey to store ownership began after she graduated from Portland High School in 2007.
Kerianne decided to attend Middlesex Community College, where her sister Michaela Heil had also attended. Kerianne’s goal was to start a career in the fashion merchandising industry and enrolled in the business and marketing program at Middlesex.
“I’m a huge advocate for completing basic courses and saving money while getting a good education. Middlesex is a good value. That’s being smart about it,” she said.
Like many Middlesex students, Kerianne worked full-time while attending college full-time for over two years. She worked at a pizza restaurant, a hair salon, and also in retail at the Meriden mall to put herself through school.
“[Former professor] Donna Leonowich was my advisor at Middlesex, and I loved her straightforwardness. She didn’t beat around the bush, and I really appreciated that,” Kerianne said.
Kerianne remembers she was often the leader of class group projects and presentations and found herself making sure things got done. Though it was sometimes difficult to schedule classes around her work schedule, she persisted and completed her coursework by 2010.
“I developed many relationships with students and remain in contact via social media with them today,” she added.
She transferred all her Middlesex credits to Lasell University in Newton, Massachusetts, and earned a bachelor of science degree in fashion and retail merchandising in 2012.
During an internship with Nordstrom’s in Boston, Kerianne learned about visual merchandise displays and attended corporate meetings. Eventually, she was hired to work in retail with the manager of that department. After a year, she came back to Connecticut and worked in Nordstrom’s men’s department before being promoted to department manager in accessories.
While she was there, Nordstrom’s underwent a renovation and they were getting rid of mannequins and other store supplies. Kerianne, knowing she wanted to eventually own her own shop, was allowed to take these items and filled several trailers’ worth of store display items and put them into storage.
As she focused on opening her own shop, she reduced her Nordstrom’s schedule by working in men’s sales for six months. On April 1, 2014, her store Savvy Swap Consignment opened at 275 Main Street in Portland.
“I always loved shopping consignment and thought it would be a fun retail store to manage,” Kerianne explained. “The best part about it is I didn’t have to save thousands of dollars for inventory. Consigners just brought it all to me.”
Her boutique features gently used or new pieces from top brands such as Ann Taylor, Anthropology, and more, all at affordable prices. Customers can also consign items and receive 40% of the actual sale price.
“The store has been great. It’s really growing in town. I even get new people from all over the state on a daily basis, as well as from Massachusetts and New York,” she added.