Fashion & Beauty

Consignment Shopping Pays Off

By Rachel Paxton

Is your closet full of clothes you never wear? Most women have a closet or dressers full of clothes they never wear. I did too, until I started consignment shopping. A clothing consignment store sells your clothes for you and generally gives you 30 to 50 percent of the selling price. That's a good deal, considering the fact that nobody is wearing the clothes that are just collecting dust in your closet.

The first time I got involved in dealing with consignment stores, I went through my closet and dressers and took out all of the clothes I never wore. (This was hard, considering I had very little money and was terrified of not having any clothes to wear). I took a couple of grocery bags full of clothes to a local consignment store and within a month or two had at least $50 is my hands. I couldn't believe it! Now that I actually had the money in my hands, I didn't feel as badly about giving up my clothes.

I spent some of the money on new clothes at the consignment store (for about 1/3 or less of regular retail prices), and went home to find out if I really had gone through all my clothes. As the seasons changed and I brought out other clothes that were stored away, I found other clothes I had I wouldn't ever wear. I still had some clothes I had worn in high school.

I always sold my daughter's outgrown clothes. The money I received for her clothes I usually spent on new (consigned) clothes for her. I also took in her outgrown toys and baby accessories. Some of the money I received I spent on her, and I spent a little on clothes for myself (my wardrobe was starting to fill up with clothes I actually wear!), and the rest was just extra cash. What a deal! None of my hard-earned money (I was a single mother at the time) was going for new clothes anymore; my daughter and I had all the clothes we needed and I had extra cash besides.

Of course I had other problems to deal with in my life, but trying to find the money for clothes suddenly dropped off the list. I have found that many people don't want to bother with consigning clothes. Either they aren't willing to part with their clothes, even if they never wear them, or they just don't want to take the time to take them to the consignment store. Many people give their clothes away to other people or Goodwill instead of reselling them, which is also an excellent choice, especially if you are not financially strapped as I was at the time.

When friends and family saw that I was "trading" in used clothes for new clothes, they started giving me their clothes to take in. A few, like my mother, started to take her own clothes in, but I found for the most part people would rather give their clothes to me, even when they didn't have extra money to buy new clothes.

So, I started taking in other people's clothes and profiting from their decisions to clean out their closets. Then I started shopping at garage sales. Many people practically give unwanted clothes away. You can find very good deals at garage sales, especially if you go right before they close up for the day. You can buy clothes for yourself or your children, or you can buy them solely for the purpose of re-selling them. However, I only recommend doing this after you have been taking your own clothes in for awhile and find out what type of clothing your local consignment stores will accept.

The consignment store reserves the right to not accept clothing that does not meet their standards. The store I shop at will donate unwanted clothes to charity for you, if you wish. You also have the option to take the unwanted clothing back. It has been my experience that they will take most clothes that are freshly washed, folded or hung neatly. They will not accept clothing with unraveling seams or holes. They also will not accept any clothes with any obvious stains.

Occasionally they will not accept outdated clothing. But in the 10 years that I have been shopping at consignment stores, the only items they didn't accept were an old coat in an outdated color, and clothes that were out of season (you can't sell a winter jacket during the summer). Usually most of the clothes consign will sell easily, depending on the size and location of the store. Most stores keep clothes on the rack for 3 months. If the clothes haven't sold in that length of time you can either take them back or they will donate them to charity.

Even though I'm married now, we still have a tight budget and can't afford to spend much on clothes. But even if I had extra money, I still don't think I would spend much on new clothes, after everything I have learned. It's just not worth it.

There are many reasons for consigning clothes. Some do it to make a profit. Some do it just to be able to buy clothes at the consignment store, which I did for many years out of sheer necessity. Others enjoy the benefits of buying low-priced quality clothing AND making a small profit besides! Whatever the reason, it is well worth the effort. In these times of recycling and trying to conserve resources, it only makes sense to "trade" clothing with other people instead of buying new clothing. Almost everyone has clothes they don't wear that someone else would be thrilled to wear.

Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who publishes the Creative Homemaking Recipe of the Week Club, a weekly newsletter that contains quick, easy dinner ideas and money-saving household hints. To subscribe send a blank e-mail message to Visit Creative Homemaking and in the Home and Garden section of
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