As our outdoor chores wind down and the last leaves are bagged, we turn our thoughts indoors and inside our clothes closets. We evaluate and analyze. We see the clothes that we love and we wore until they wore out. I call them “faves” or “BFFs.” We see the clothes we never actually liked and we are ready part with. I call them our “closet mistakes.” We see the clothes that no longer fit but may still be in very good condition. I call them “better-on-someone-else.” We see the garments that we can easily bid farewell. I call them our “no tears.” Finally, we see the clothes that wear out a bit but we enjoy wearing them so much, we think out of the box to figure a way to keep wearing them. I call them our “don’t-go-yets.”
For instance, my favorite gray skirt has light streaks on the bottom of the left side. It is a cotton blend skirt and after countless washes, some of the dye has lifted away. I was considering tossing the skirt. I reframed my need for the skirt and decided the elastic waist will make it a great skirt to pull on quickly for my puppy Shepsi’s early morning walks.
Some people may want to get money for their “better-on-someone-else”s or their “no tears.” In order to do this, the clothes have to be in very good to excellent condition and from a recent season. I have had clients that loved their clothes so much, they did not see what I saw. They did not see the little pulls or snags on the sweaters or the little yellow stains on the white blouses. They also did not see the lipstick stains on the lining of their designer bags or catch a whiff of the smell of the handbag. These clients remembered the stunning outfits they created with these clothes, the places they went in them, the simchas they attended or the people they were with. In short, if you are serious about re-selling your clothes, check them extremely carefully. You could even ask a friend or family member for their opinion. A second pair of eyes is always helpful.
Consignment shops are places that afford us the possibility to make some money from our high-end clothes, shoes and jewelry. In my experience, the store always inspects rigorously. The reputation of the consignment shop is on the line. Although some people think of a consignment store as merely a place to sell used clothes, slightly above a thrift store, this is an incorrect impression. When you enter a consignment shop, you will probably notice a decorative touch and eye-catching displays. The shop’s merchandise will likely be different each time you visit. The best pieces are recognized by savvy shoppers and grabbed up, but new merchandise is put out frequently. Consignment shops tend to have a rule that a garment can either be no older than three years or a true vintage piece.
Over the years I have gone to several consignment stores, always with an eye for whether a shop would be a good fit for my clients’ clothes and for me to bring my business. I like to be welcomed when I walk into any boutique or small shop. I look for an inventory of both trendy and classic looks. If the management stays in a huddle talking amongst themselves and barely gives me a look, I will choose another store. If the owner or manager remembers me, engages in friendly conversation and suggests I post my business card on their bulletin board, that is the kind of place I want to work with!
Recently, I brought two bags of clients’ clothes and shoes to my favorite consignment store, Consignment Closet and Gift Boutique in Jamesburg. This store has a charming ambience. Although it is a bit of a drive, it is worth it and I have been going there for several years. The owner, Denise Meyers, puts her heart and soul into her shop. Unlike other brick-and-mortar consignment stores, this one will accept fewer than 10 pieces at a time. Those stores or websites that insist on a minimum of 10 items seem to assume people who wish to consign have a huge amount of clothes, in perfect condition, to eliminate from their closet. A store that wants a maximum of 10 items is living in the real world.
Denise told me that buying clothes in a consignment shop has slowly gone from “acceptable to mainstream.” Her clients are “having fun when they shop and feel exhilarated over the small amounts they spent on their favorite designer names... Consignors love knowing their items will have a second life.”
Denise shared a humorous story with me. A consignor brought in a classic designer bubble trench coat. She realized it was a little too small when she bought it, but it was so beautiful, she couldn’t resist it, even at full price! The fabric and the pattern and colors were amazing. As the woman lifted the coat to hand to Denise, she suddenly pulled her arms back. She told Denise it was very hard for her. Again, she lifted her arms to hand the coat to Denise and again she pulled back. It was only when Denise suggested the woman put the coat back in the bag and walk away that she was able to part with it.
It is true that a consignment shop cannot offer a garment in multiple sizes. On the other hand, the prices for good-quality clothes are sometimes amazing. A friend told me she was in a consignment shop during a chaotic time. She asked the saleswoman to take a jacket from the window display and waited patiently. When the saleswoman returned to help my friend, she cut 25% off the price in appreciation. You will never have that experience in Macy’s! To me consignment shopping is like a treasure hunt. You could find beautiful clothes, shoes, jewelry or accessories. You can make room in your closet, make some pocket money, and you can deal with really nice people. It’s a win, win, win.
I invite you to share experiences you have had with consigning.
Ellen Smith is Central Jersey’s kosher organizer and tzniut wardrobe stylist. For over 13 years, Ellen has helped people restore order and create calm in their homes and souls. Ellen believes “Clutter clogs, but harmony heals.” Contact Ellen for a complimentary consultation at [email protected]