Bethany Clough

An $11,000 handbag in Fresno? Yes, you can buy that here now

Three Birkin bags by designer Hermès at the newly opened Scepter & Sash. The handbags are rare and highly sought-after. The green bag in the middle is for sale for $11,000.
Three Birkin bags by designer Hermès at the newly opened Scepter & Sash. The handbags are rare and highly sought-after. The green bag in the middle is for sale for $11,000. SPECIAL TO THE BEE

Handbags from Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton. A pair of red-bottom Christian Louboutin heels for $595. Cartier watches.

These high-end items aren’t things you expect to see for sale in a place like Fresno, but they are here now. Sceptre & Sash Authentic Luxury opened recently at 1528 E. Champlain Drive, just a few doors down from Yosemite Ranch restaurant. It sells handbags, jewelry, watches and other luxury goods.

Most are pre-owned – or “gently loved” – but this is no thrift shop.

For example, there’s a green Birkin bag that an employee with white gloves was putting on display when I was there. The price tag: $11,000.

Birkin bags are highly sought-after bags designed by Hermès (pronounced Air-mez) and carried by celebrities. A recent sale of one at a Christie’s auction in Hong Kong broke a record selling for just over $300,000.

Many other bags at Sceptre & Sash aren’t as expensive, but a Louis Vuitton can still set you back $795.

And yes, the store has very tight security, including two armed guards and each purse locked in place with a cable.

It’s the type of store that some people hear about and dismiss with sentence like, “Fresno can never support something like that.” But during 10 years of writing about boutiques with a range of prices, high-end store owners have said that we do have more wealthy customers here than you might think – they’re just quiet about their wealth.

And often, they go to Los Angeles or Las Vegas for big-ticket items like Sceptre & Sash carries. The store is hoping to get those customers to shop locally.

“They can do it in Fresno, they don’t have to go out of town to get it,” says general manager Maritza Lazar.

The people who own Sceptre & Sash are the same family behind Fresno Coin Gallery and its four locations. The Foster family’s company buys and sells gold, silver and platinum, along with collectable coins and valuable jewelry (which is why it employs three jewelers). It also acts as a pawn broker.

All those years of buying and selling led them to open a high-end store, says Sceptre & Sash president and co-owner Stephen Foster.

“This is our boutique experience, our best brands,” he says.

The store gets its handbags and jewelry from a variety of sources, including the public, hundreds of dealers it has relationships with and trade shows around the world.

“Everything is pre-owned and there are some items that haven’t been used before,” Foster says.

For example, when they buy a jeweler’s overstock, the engagement rings and wedding rings sat in a display case but were never sold.

There are plenty more jewelry and watches too, including diamond bracelets and a flawless yellow diamond. Pieces come from Bulgari, Tiffany & Co., Rolex and more.

The store is not an authorized retailer of any of those big-name brands, saying it frees them from requirements like minimum purchases. It also allows the merchandise to be discounted anywhere between 25 percent and 80 percent.

They also make sure the handbags and jewelry are not knockoffs. They come with a lifetime guarantee that they are authentic and customers can bring purchases back within two weeks for any reason.

The store is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. Details: 559-434-4589.

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough

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