Everyday Cheapskate: second-hand clothes, first-class style

While most retail stores are hanging by a thread due to the onslaught of COVID-19 on the US economy, thrift stores, especially consignment stores, have the opposite problem; business is booming! According to thredUP.com, a leading thrift store, the clothing resale market will grow from $28 billion to $64 billion over the next five years.

A consignment store is a type of resale store where, instead of relying on donations, people bring in the items they wish to sell in the secondary market. When items sell, the store and seller split the sale, often 50-50. Consignment stores sell clothing, homewares, art, furniture, and even books. However, clothing is the most popular category.


Consignment shopping is a great way to find great deals on lightly used clothing and sell lightly used children’s and baby clothes for less than a third of the retail price. And most cities now have specialty consignment stores specifically for babies, kids, and teens.

Expect a consignment store to have very high standards for what they will accept. For example: Clothing must be of a current style; clothes must be brought clean and clothes must not show visible wear, holes or stains.

Typically, your items will be listed and displayed for 30-60 days. Once sold, you will receive 30% to 50% of the purchase price depending on that store’s policy.

Most consignment stores have a process where they regularly reduce the sale price until the item is sold or the time is up. At that point, you have the option of picking up your items or having the store donate them to charity.

Stores will often give you the choice of picking up your product directly or crediting it to your own store account. Most people find that setting up their accounts to enable in-store purchases is the best option. This way, the money rarely changes hands.

Have you ever paid a lot of money for an outfit only to find out you don’t like it after all (who hasn’t?), but then feel reluctant to part with clothes you paid for? expensive and that you have never worn for one reason or another? Consignment purchases solve the problem.

The first step is to let go of the guilt and get rid of the clothes. When you start buying your clothes from consignment stores, that guilt is never there. If you decide you don’t like something you bought, take it back and record it. You didn’t pay much for it to begin with, and you can use the money you get from consigning it to buy something else.

If you don’t have a consignment store in your town, check the nearest major town the next time you’re there. Even if you take a trip once or twice a year to clean out your closet, it will be worth it.

These days, there’s no reason you should feel pressured to spend a large chunk of your income on new clothes. Let your kids see all the great deals at a consignment store. Even your teenagers will be impressed, provided you research the best stores beforehand.

About Cheapskate Everyday

Marie invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments to https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, “Ask Mary.” Tips may be subject to tips.everydaycheapskate.com/. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.coma frugal living blog and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living”.


Elizabeth J. Harless