Consignment shopping is an excellent way to purchase clothes for kids and babies. You can often fine brand-new clothes for less than one-third of the retail price. And most cities now have specialty consignment shops for babies, children and teens.
The consignment process is simple. If you are a seller, the store sets its criteria for accepting merchandise and sets the price — usually 50% of the new retail price.
Expect a consignment shop to have very high standards for what they will accept: must be a current style; must be brought in clean; and must have no visible wear, holes or stains. You can even bring in new items with tags still attached (you won't believe all the new things in a consignment store). You bring your items to the store to be reviewed and submitted for sale (most stores have limited hours for this process, so call ahead).
Your items will be put on the sales floor and displayed for 30 to 60 days. Once sold, you will receive 30% to 50% of the purchase price, depending on the store's policy.
Most consignment shops reduce the sales price regularly until the item is sold or the time runs out. At that time, you have the option of either picking up your items or agreeing to have the shop donate them to a charity.
Stores will often give you the choice of taking your proceeds outright or crediting it to your own store account. Most people discover that building their account to allow for shopping in the store is the best option. With this choice, money rarely changes hands.
Have you ever paid a lot of money for an outfit only to find you don't like it after all? Of course you have! Many times, people are reluctant to part with clothes they paid a lot for and never wore for one reason or another. Consignment shopping solves the problem.
The first step is to let go of the guilt and get rid of the clothes. When you start buying your clothes at consignment stores, that guilt is never there. If you decide you don't like something you bought, take it back and consign it. You didn't pay much for it in the first place, 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 one out the next time you're in the nearest big city. Even if you make a trip once or twice a year to clean out your closet or add to your wardrobe, it will be worth the effort.
These days, there's no reason you should spend a large percentage of your income on new clothes. Let your kids see all the great bargains at a consignment store. Even your teens will be impressed, provided you scout out the best stores ahead of time.
Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."
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