When I was a teenager – many, many moons ago, my mother owned and ran a clothing consignment store. Now, I grew up in the small town of Austin, MN. This consignment store was in operation in the early 1960s – long before consignment stores were in vogue, so to speak (at least in southern Minnesota). In truth, the fact that my mom was selling used clothing was a source of embarrassment to me. Nevermind, that I was often the recipient of some special garment, still stylish and in good shape, from clothing someone dropped off to be consigned. I would never divulge to my friends where that particular piece of clothing came from. Back in the day, we referred to garage sales as “rummage” sales – not exactly a positive reference. This store of my mom’s seemed like a huge rummage sale to me!
Fast forward to the 1990s and present day – consignment stores abound; and, now I purchase about 75% of my clothing from such stores and am proud to brag to my friends about the bargains I find.
Wow, my mom was way ahead of her time in her thinking to have a consignment store. I, as an insecure teenager, did not appreciate that at the time.
The consignment stores of today are very selective in what brands of clothing they will accept – some even going so far as to only taking high-end designer brands. All of them require the clothing to be in excellent condition and in current style. My mom operated more like a thrift store of today where as long as the clothing was in good shape she hung it on the racks for sale. In-style fashion wasn’t necessarily as important a requirement. (I must add though, you can find some surprisingly great pieces at thrift stores these days if you are willing to plow through the racks.)
So, here’s what I love about consignment shopping -
- Like items are grouped together (e.g., all the sweaters are in one place) as opposed to other retail stores where you might find skirts or pants in four different locations or departments of the store, depending on their brand. I don’t have to run to different parts of the store to compare similar garments…much more convenient.
- Often items are arranged by color. If I have a particular color in mind and/or just want to look at colors I know I can wear, I can go right to that color grouping and save time.
- Clothing prices are substantially lower than what I find in department/specialty stores. I can get more outfits for my clothing budget dollars!
- Though the clothing is used, occasionally, an item still has original price tags indicating it has not been worn by anyone else (someone didn’t like it when they got it home, size/color was wrong or whatever). These are my favorite finds!
Now, granted over the years, I have purchased an item here and there that hasn’t worked out once I got it home – like, what was I thinking!? (A bargain is not always a bargain!) The good news is, I can take the garment back to the consignment store and consign it in my name, therefore earning cash towards future purchases; or, I can donate the mistake to charity for someone else to use. I’m not out a huge sum of money for my error.
More often, I come home with items that I wear to their death. Some of my favorite standbys have been purchased at consignment stores.
And, don’t forget handbags and jewelry. In a previous post, I indicated I am going to try and shake up my conservative wardrobe and jazz up my style. I said my first step in that process is to start wearing dangly earrings (as opposed to boring posts). Upon deciding to make this style change, I immediately went to my favorite consignment store and purchased a pair of flashy silver dangle earrings – at a substantially lower price than I would have paid at a regular retail store.
Likewise, I satisfy my handbag fetish by regularly shopping for a different bag at the consignment store. I can only switch purses as often as I do because I purchase used ones. I could not afford to do this if I paid retail prices.
If you are into consignment shopping or get into it after reading this (hooray, if I’m that persuasive), a really fun thing to do is shop a second-hand store you find while traveling to a different part of the country. Styles in other locales might be different than you’re used to and can provide some new interest to your wardrobe.
A few years ago on a girls weekend trip to San Diego, my friends and I shopped a couple of consignment stores in the area. I believe all of us that were comfortable with this type of shopping made purchases that day. My “find” was a denim jean jacket which I am still wearing today.
Just a quick mention – shopping home consignment stores is great fun also. Take a look at the table setting I recently scored. The table runner, candle holder centerpiece, napkins, glasses and plates were all purchased second-hand for under $40 in total!
So, my advice today is to shop consignment. What do you have to lose?
Let me know how it works for you.