In today's economic "crunch" it is every woman's dream to be stylish for pennies less. Consignment and thrift store shopping is having a heyday. You can save up to 95 percent off retail prices if you shop smart. Here are 10 tips for the ins and outs of how to buy and sell gently used clothing:
1. Consignment stores will typically price your item at one third of the retail value. Once it sells, they'll pay you 35 to 50 percent of that price, or a little more in store credit.
2. Each consignment store has a unique personality. Since a store's inventory usually comes from the surrounding community, scout out neighborhoods. If you are after high end, classic pieces, head to a fancy neighborhood. If you are looking for funkier, more trendy items, check out a college area.
3. Buy brands you know and like. That way you'll buy pieces that work with what you have and will fit as you expect them to. Always try on garments. Remember that the previous owner may have had them altered.
4. Know when to shop. Most stores have a day that they roll out new merchandise.
5. If you love it, buy it. Chances are there's only one. A piece that is almost perfect can be altered.
6. Inspect each garment carefully before nailing a purchase. Look for hallmarks of good quality such as weight, well made leather belts and purses that are heavier. Shoes tend to show their age. Check for overly scuffed bottoms and try them on to be sure they are still supportive. Fabric like cotton and jersey tends to wear thin. Hold the items up to the light to inspect for worn patches or holes. Check unexpected areas for pilling like the hips (where purses rub.)
7. It doesn't hurt to bargain. Prices are negotiable to a certain extent. Pieces that have been in a store for a while or have damage from shelf life may be fair game for a mark down.
8. The better condition your articles are in, the better chance you have of selling them. It's wise to freshen up pieces. Have them dry cleaned, iron out wrinkles and replace missing buttons.
9. If it's your first visit to a consignment shop as a seller, bring a cross section of your closet so that you can get a sense of what types of items they are interested in carrying.
10. It's always best to sell in season. Peddle fall items right now.
For a fashion challenge, choose an outfit from a fashion magazine that you like. Now, try to create the same look with items purchased in a thrift or consignment shop. You will be amazed with what you come up with for only a fraction of the cost. Have fun!