The Consignment Shop Experience

High fashion at a bargain price

Don’t call it a thrift store. There’s nothing cheap about the high-end, lowcost clothes you’ll find at the area’s chic consignment shops.

What is a consignment shop?

As savvy, budget-conscious moms should know, a consignment shop is the place to go to score lavish secondhand designer clothing, shoes and accessories — think Gucci, Prada, Burberry — for 30 to 40 percent less than retail. It’s also where fashion-forward moms, as consignors, can make a profit on the closet-cluttering stuff they and their kids no longer wear or fit. Here’s how it works:

Is It Worth Your Time to Consign?

It may be worth your time to consign:

  • If you’d like an expert to set a price and sell for you; selling on your own may yield higher payoffs, but you will have to work for it.
  • If you sign a contract with a reputable store; don’t turn valuables over without something in writing.
  • If you don’t expect huge payoffs. Crystal, MoneySavingMom doesn’t consign to make additional income: “If I get a month’s worth of weekly Starbucks visits out of the deal, I’m happy.”
  • If you have flawless items, dry-cleaned on hangers; brands like Coach, Prada, and Chanel for women, Northface, Rothschild, Nike and Urban Pipeline for kids.
  • If your fashions were purchased within the past two to three years or are vintage pieces from the 1920s–1970s.
  • If you schedule an appointment with the shop; tell them what you’re selling, don’t waste your time or theirs.
  • If all toys and equipment are like new, up to code and recall-free; you may have to research.
  • If you have time to gather and sort your possessions; busy moms don’t always have that kind of time.
  • If you are prepared to be turned down; what you think is wonderful might not be.
  • If you don’t mind waiting for items to sell; you will need to follow up on your sales.

Becoming a consignor depends on how much time you have, the items you plan on selling and what you expect to gain. Try it on for size at a seasonal resale event first, see how it fits, then decide if you'd like to further pursue consigning.

Consignment shop owners curate trends by agreeing to sell gently used secondhand items for consignors. The consignor owns the item until the shop sells it, at which point the profit is shared, usually in a 40/60 consignor/shop split.

Store policies vary, but merchandise typically remains on display for 30 to 90 days. “Shop frequently, because things change all the time,” advises Lise Esper, owner of 2nd Chance Resale in Bear, DE.

Consignment quality

Reputable consignment shop owners adamantly uphold the quality of the items they accept to sell. Davida Levin, who’s owned Worn Yesterday, a dedicated children’s and maternity consignment shop in Manayunk, PA, for 27 years, is well regarded for her “eagle eye. My customers know I’ve already examined the items for spots and tears.”

“I’m very, very fussy,” says Sandee Straccione about the merchandise she selects to sell at Debutante’s Consignment Boutique in Moorestown, NJ. Only pristine condition will do for her elegant inventory of clothing and accessories, stuff like strappy Jimmy Choo sandals and Louis Vuitton handbags.

Why shop consignment?

Kids grow and styles change fast. Parents shop consignment to save money on quality clothes, toys and baby equipment, jewelry, school uniforms, dance gear and formal or special occasion wear.

Favorite Local Kids' Consignment Shops

PA: Bella Boutique, Chester Springs
Butterflies and Bullfrogs, Chalfont
Christine's Consignment Boutique, West Chester
Evergreen, Pottstown
Next to New, Schwenksville
Twice as Nice, Pottstown
Worn Yesterday, Manayunk
DE: 2nd Chance Resale, Bear
Designer Consigner,
Hockessin & Rehoboth Beach
NJ: Best Dressed for Less, Burlington Township
Debutante's Consignment Boutique, Moorestown & Voorhees
Dragonflies & Ladybugs, Marlton

“I look for quality brands I couldn’t afford otherwise and trendy stuff that I’d rather not pay big bucks for,” says MK reader Laura Kelleher, who frequents Bella Boutique in Chester Springs, PA.

“I do almost all my shopping at consignment,” says Natalie Adamcewicz- Wipf, a 2nd Chance Resale customer. “I’m especially on the lookout for shoes for my daughter; her feet grow faster than the rest of her.”

For Michele Horvath, a fan of Best Dressed for Less in Columbus, NJ, consignment offers a less-costly way to garb her clothes-finicky daughter. “If it ends up being a bad choice, at least I didn’t pay full price for it. And with any luck, my younger daughter will wear it one day.”

That someone else will wear it one day is the perennial goal of consignment. “It’s a green way to shop,” says Levin. “No matter if it’s a Prada diaper bag or a pair of size 2 boys True Religion jeans, we’re always recycling.”

Janet Tumelty is a South Jersey freelance writer.

Hot Consignment Shop Trends

  • Debbie Bedrosian Vozzo, owner of Butterflies and Bullfrogs in Chalfont, PA, flies through high-end items from brands like Northface, Rothschild, Burberry and Tea, plus a colorful array of girls’ party dresses with beading and sequins.
  • Rocker and punk styles sell well at Dragonflies and Ladybugs in Marlton, NJ, says owner Jamie Robinson. Ditto anything with skulls and crossbones for toddler boys.
  • Christine’s Consignment Boutique in West Chester, PA, is decked out for the holidays for mom, with mint-condition little black dresses, sequins, velvet and evening wear from St. John’s.
  • Designer Consigner in Rehoboth Beach and Hockessin, DE, touts its A-list designer roster, including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Michael Kors and Dolce & Gabbana.
Categories: Money