BY CHRISTIE DEL AMO JOHNSON
Used Is The New “New”
Debra Dees has been a bargain hunter ever since she was a teenager. “My mom was a single mom who raised us to be cost conscious,” she says. “We had to look for things second-hand if we wanted to have a nice dress.”
Now, Dees helps others in their hunt for bargain buys at her own shop, Corner Closet, in Macon. She says you can get items and clothing at one-third to a quarter of the regular price in resale shops. “I just think it makes perfect sense for families and professionals,” she says. “It saves money, helps to support the community, and recycles.”
Local consignment shops and sales are seeing more people selling and buying gently used items for both children and adults. Over the past couple of years, Macon MOPS’ (Mothers of Preschoolers) bi-annual consignment sale has seen this trend firsthand. The sale, which donates a portion of its proceeds to local charities such as Jay’s Hope, Rooms from the Heart, and The DOVE Center, has become so popular, they’ve decided to start accepting junior sized clothing. “People who used to giveaway their toys, baby items, and clothing, are now looking for other ways to dispose of them and make money at the same time,” says Dawn Vargo, Consignment Chair.
Whether you’re buying or selling, here are some tips on how to walk away with more money in your pocket during a resale.
- Start by cleaning your closets. If your child has outgrown clothing or a product or if you haven’t worn a garment in two years, it’s time to let it go. Use two boxes—one for clothing in gently worn condition to be consigned and one for charity.
- Be choosey about what you consign. “If you really want to make money and not just clear your closet, you want to bring in things people are going to want to buy,” says Dees. Don’t take in Supercenter clothing, choose only name brands that people recognize. Make sure labels are visible, not torn out, and that the style is current.
- Wash and iron your clothes. Clean any toys or furniture: Make sure your clothing is wrinkle-free and doesn’t smell like cigarettes or perfume. Also, make sure any toys or furniture has been wiped clean.
- Make sure your item has not been recalled. Jaime Dowd, owner of Baby County in Warner Robins, says many stores, including hers, are checked out by Consumer Safety Product Commissioners to make sure they are following guidelines. “We have a book that lists everything that is recalled. We don’t accept any item that is on that list,” she says.
- Know the store’s pricing policy. Most consignment shops make about 50% of whatever they sell, while some charity sales may offer a bit more in exchange for sellers handling their own tagging and hanging. After a couple of weeks, shops may also markdown your items.
- Be sure to get an itemized drop-off receipt from the storekeeper for the items you are reselling. Double check the receipt and read the contract before signing.
- Only buy items in like-new condition. Dowd, also an avid consignment shopper, says always makes sure clothes are clean, free of stains or holes and ironed. “Look for quality. I buy a lot of name brand stuff at consignment sales,” says Dowd. “You can get name brand stuff at a fraction of the regular store price.”
- Don’t be in a rush. Take your time and walk the racks. At Macon MOPS’ sale, there are thousands of items. “Look for your size rack and take time to look at each piece,” says Vargo. Unlike at a retail store, there are usually very few or only one of each item. “If you rush through, you may miss a great deal.”
- If shopping for yourself, never go by the label’s sizing. A dozen designers will label a dozen different sizes as size 8. So you must try on the item before buying. Kids clothing sizes are a bit more consistent, but sometimes vary. Many consignment businesses will not accept returns.
- Make friends with your local resale store owner. New items are coming in all the time. If the sales people know you and what you’re looking for, they are usually more than willing to give you a call. At Corner Closet, they have a wish list you can fill out that helps Dees and staff keep an eye out for that special something you want.
“People are conscientious about the value of the dollar right now,” says Dees. “Consignment shopping allows the families to, in hard economic times, dress well and look good.”
Local Consignment Shops for Child Products
1102 Russell Pkwy., Warner Robins
Corner Closet Consignment
5580 Thomaston Rd # 10, Macon
Sweet Pea’s Consignment Shop
4725 Northside Drive, Macon
3155 Mercer University Drive, Macon