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How To Consign, Turning your Cluttered Closets into Cash, by Kate Holmes of
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Your Must-Know Guide to Resale by Consignment Guru Kate Holmes

How to choose the best resale shop for you

Pat and Terry are avid resalers. "Weíre always on the lookout for those magic words: consignment, resale, used. Weíve even been known to make illegal U-turns to investigate new sources!

What consignment or resale or thrift has the best stuff to buy? Both have filled their closets with gently-used clothing and their homes with pre-owned furniture. They've found everything from nostalgic treasures to the latest fashions, even a crepe pan and a garden gnome on their latest excursion. "Itís a lot more fun than mall cruising, and of course we save a bundle." Patís a collector of vintage handbags and jewelry; Terry outfits a growing number of grandchildren with everything from school clothes to games and toys.

"Thereís one thing weíd like to share: find the right shops for you. Itíll save time, and once you get to know the staff, theyíll even put items aside for you to see on your weekly visits."

Choosing the right shop for you is simple with these thoughts in mind:

First, is the shop located in an area where you work, live, or shop? Convenience plays a big part here. After all, an hour in travel time can cut your pleasure in finding the perfect buy. Store hours and the availability of parking are also features youíll appreciate.

Does the shop carry what youíre in the market for? A large variety of possibilities as well as the quality you want can justify weekly visits. Quick turnover of stock is important too: are there lots of newly-arrived goods to choose from?

Are you pleased with the value? What you are willing to pay depends on the appeal and usefulness of the item. A $20 sweater that was originally $200 is only valuable if it fits your body and lifestyle. Price is not an absolute: Itís not unusual for experienced resale shoppers to snap up items which to the uninitiated seem overpriced. "But Iíd rather spend $400 for an antique mahogany desk than $150 for a pressboard mass-merchandised one," says Terry. "The antique has value. The cheap new desk wonít last and it certainly wonít please me the way the antique will."

Do you enjoy the atmosphere of the shop? For some customers, a jumble of dusty merchandise is a great treasure-hunt. Others prefer a more upscale ambiance. "I like a neat, organized, clean store for clothing. Iím more willing to dig through cardboard boxes when Iím looking to add to my vintage jewelry collection," notes Pat.

Is the service in a store pleasant? Will the staff help you find what youíre looking for and suggest alternatives? Do you feel welcome? Do they offer the features you want, such as credit card acceptance, layaways, and approval sales?

Are you valued as a customer? Is there a mailing list you can join to receive sale notices, special event invitations, and coupons? Does the shop offer you a frequent buyer club card or a preferred customer discount? Do they maintain a want list for special items youíre searching for, and will they call you?

How to Shop Resale & SAVE!Pat and Terry have their favorite shops they visit regularly, but they also have one more word of advice: Never pass up the opportunity to investigate an unknown business.  

 "Some of our best finds have been in the most implausible places. We have found great buys in items that a shop doesnít normally deal in." Pat found a 1920's beaded bag in a secondhand furniture store and Terry remembers the handmade baby quilt discovered under a pile of avocado drapes from the 70's. The best value might be items a given shop normally doesnít deal in, such as a first edition book in a housewares specialty shop or an incredible designer suit in a lower-end basic clothing store.

You will, for sure, find several resale shops that you include in your shopping trips most often. But never forget: sometimes the best treasures can be found in the most unlikely places. Once in a while, take a day to explore shops off your beaten path. . . and be sure to carry cash for that once-in-a-lifetime find!

Find a shop near you on our Clickable Map & Directory!

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