Thrift-shopping and consigning: Great ways to save

October 1, 2008 12:31:09 PM PDT
Thrift and consignment shops can offer everything from dollar bargains to discount designer furs. You may be able to sell what you have in your closet, and save on clothes, if you know how they work.

We visited two thrift shops, just blocks apart in Narberth, Montgomery County.

The Hamper Shop is run by the Lankenau Hospital Women's Board. They take both donations and consignments.

Store Manager Cyndi MacBain says they accept just about anything sellable, from clothes to toys, to household items and more.

Consignments stay on the floor for four weeks. And if they sell, the person who consigned the item gets 60% of the sale price, the Women's Board gets 40%.

If the item doesn't sell in four weeks, the consigner can either donate the item or come pick it up. Items that stay longer than four weeks get reduced in price each week until they end up in the store's "Last Chance Annex," where everything costs $1.

We found an outfit from Bergdorf Goodman's on the racks there and spoke with Gretchen Deeck of Devon, Pa., who picked up a needlepoint rug for $1.00 In addition to saving money, Deeck says she loves the treasure hunt aspect of thrift-shopping.

Right now, the Hamper Shop is accepting Fall and Winter consignments. Donations are accepted all the time. Consigners can make appointments to consign up to 20 pieces at a time.

In contrast to the "we take anything that's sellable" attitude of The Hamper Shop, Revivals Consignment Boutique owner Robin Ecklund is quite picky about what clothes she takes. They must be designer names that are sold in boutiques or in upscale stores like Neiman-Marcus, Bloomingdales, Nordstroms, etc.

Items stay on the floor at Revivals for three months. Ecklund splits the sale price with the consigner 50/50. Each month, the price drops 25%.

When we went to Revivals, Ecklund had just receive 60 vintage designer furs from an estate. Though they were priced much less than their original costs, they still had price tags in the thousands.

As with the Hamper Shop, Revivals requires would-be consigners to make appointments.

Regular consigners know their stores. We met one consigner who consigned some high-end items to Revivals, and was going to take the items Ecklund rejected over to the Hamper Shop.

Here are some general tips if you want to consign your clothes.

1) Items should be clean, not torn, and still stylish (unless they are true vintage. Items from the 1960s seem to be selling well now).

2) Consign items that are appropriate for the upcoming season.

3) If the item sells and you recoup 10% of your original purchase price, you've done well.

4) If it's not something you would consider buying yourself, chances are it won't sell. You're better off donating the item to a charity thrift shop and getting a receipt for a tax deduction.

Here are links to the two consignment shops we visited:

The Hamper Shop

Revivals Boutique


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