Consignment Shopping To Stay Stylish In A Down Economy

By Jaclyn Cashman

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Oct. 19. 2011

Watch the segment that aired on Oct. 17 on WGBH's Greater Boston.


BOSTON — Most shoppers, even label lovers, agree that clothing doesn't give you a great return on your investment, only your sense of style.

To stay stylish in this rugged economy, people are turning more to secondhand clothing.

Sam Hollister is a realtor by trade, but her passion is finding great shopping deals. She found a consignment shop in her neighborhood a few years ago and boasts that 60 percent of her clothing is used. She says she turns over her collection by bartering.

Hollister said, "If I sell a 300-dollar dress I am probably only getting less than 100 dollars for it, but I use that credit to buy another dress so it is kind of like operating at zero, which is great."

The Closet on Newbury Street has been in business for 34 years. Kevin Kish started the business in his living room and explains how the process works today.

Kish said, "It is good to have an appointment. Once someone does that, we ask them to bring in their 15 best pieces. We price it for them and mail checks every month."

The question everyone wants to know is how much can they make.

Kish said, "The contract says we set the price, but we do listen to our consigners. We don't want them walking away or being upset with the clothing that we sell."

Generally, an article of clothing sells for half or a third of the original price. If the item doesn't sell in 30 days the price drops by 25 percent and 50 percent after 60 days.

Each consignment shop offers different deals. The Closet gives you half the sale price, while Second Time Around writes a check to the consigner for 40 percent of the profit.

Another option for the cost conscious shopper is to rent a dress for a Friday night party. A company out of Harvard Business School called Rent the Runway came up with the idea.

Rent the Runway allows women to rent designer dresses and accessories starting at $40 for dresses and $10 for accessories. Letitia Tandean is a BU Student and an RTR Rep.

Tandean said, "I know a lot of college students and I know we can't get a new dress every week. It is a way to expand your wardrobe without really expanding it."

Tandean doesn't get paid in dollars but credit toward a free rental.

Tandean said, "If we get girls to sign up we get dress credits and if we get a girl to rent a dress we get more credits."

RTR lets you rent the dresses for 4 or 8 days. You don't have to dryclean it once you are done — just pop it in a mailbox.

If you don't want to share the profit with a consignment shop, you can also try your luck with eBay. However, it is very important to post photos that really show off the clothing and provide a quality description. The better the photos you post, the greater the profit. You should share your eBay links on Facebook and Twitter to publicize what you are selling.



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