Secondhand clothes, but first-class style | Advice


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.

Dear Mary: I have a great pair of leather shoes that I just love, but they aren’t in a color that goes with much in my wardrobe.

I bought them over 10 years ago and would love to purchase another pair in black. The brand is Karen Moore Shoes.

Dear Pam: I’ve had no luck finding that brand. However, I’m not convinced you need to replace these shoes simply because they are the wrong color. Because these shoes are made of leather, a reputable shoe repairman should be able to dye your shoes black.

While prices vary throughout the country, you could get an excellent-quality job for far less than the cost to replace them. I’m so sure this will work out for you that I’m going to congratulate you for having the foresight a decade ago to invest in classically styled, excellent-quality leather shoes!

Dear Mary: The tag on my favorite pair of slacks is marked “Wash by hand.” Is there any way that I can get around this? They are 97% polyester and 3% spandex.

Dear Amberleah: This is curious because polyester and spandex are both washable fabrics. I have a feeling the manufacturer is erring on the side of caution to limit all liability. I am hesitant to suggest you go against that instruction, but I would wash them by machine in a heartbeat. I’d turn the pants inside out and wash them alone or with like colors on the gentle cycle using cool water. Then I’d lay them flat or hang them from the ankles, not the waist, to dry. Never put spandex in the dryer. Of course, I am not officially recommending that you do this (wink, wink).

Dear Mary: What can I do to make my white sheets, duvet cover, towels, socks, T-shirts and delicate items that have yellowed or become a dingy gray white again?

Dear Karin: Here is my favorite recipe to remove stains, yellow and dingy gray from whites: Pour 1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda and 1 cup Cascade automatic dishwashing powder into a large pail, bucket or other container (an ice chest works well). A

dd the hottest tap water you can get. (I usually boil water in a tea kettle, pour that in and then finish filling with extremely hot tap water.)

Stir until Super Washing Soda and Cascade seem to be fairly well-dissolved. Add the stained and or discolored item(s) immediately while the water is still hot, making sure everything is saturated. Cover if possible, and allow them to soak for anywhere from a couple of hours to overnight. Wring out and launder as usual.

Mary Hunt writes this column for Creators Syndicate. She is the founder of, a lifestyle blog, and the author of “Debt-Proof Living. Submit comments or tips or address questions on her website. She will answer questions of general interest via this column, but letters cannot be answered individually.

Next Post

A Quick Analysis On Arrow Financial's (NASDAQ:AROW) CEO Compensation

Tom Murphy became the CEO of Arrow Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:AROW) in 2013, and we think it’s a good time to look at the executive’s compensation against the backdrop of overall company performance. This analysis will also assess whether Arrow Financial pays its CEO appropriately, considering recent earnings growth and total […]