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06 March 2012 @ 11:05 am
Consignment Sales & Thrift Shopping - A How-To  


Ok I’ll admit it. I am a hardcore 2nd hand shopper. I enjoy “the hunt”. I like looking through other people’s stuff. And to be honest I also take a great deal of pride in the fact that I can provide nice things for my family “without spending needlessly”.  Finally obvious finical advantages aside I thrift shop because I believe it is one of the very best forms of recycling that anyone can do.

As I have said in earlier posts I have been doing the penny-wise thing for about 25 years now so for me buying on the cheap is sort of 2nd nature. I have a roster of thrift stores I shop regularly and I have fair idea who gets what sort of merchandise when and where to go to get what I need, whether it is a fleece jacket, nice wooden toys or resin planters for my front porch.  Sadly, thrifting like this takes time and patience which a lot of folks understandably have in short supply.

This is where the consignment sale comes in. 

For those of you who have not checked out a consignment sale before think concentrated, well-organized, squeaky clean, seriously FRUGAL shopping.  No funny smells, repairs needed, missing buttons or odd parts, just row upon row of gently used to nearly new items at 50 to 90% off retail. Further these sales are seasonally focused events. So you can be certain that you are going to have a very good chance of finding those swim shoes and trunks you need for this Summer, not sweaters that might not fit next Fall.

Interested in giving it a whirl? Great! Read on for some advice to help you get the most out your next consignment adventure.

Planning the Hunt:

  • Check your closets and ask yourself the following questions.
    • What size (pants, shirts, etc) does every family member wear?
    • What pallet of colors does every family member wear? I favor black and jewel tones, my spouse likes grays, browns and earth tones and Lil’man loves orange and fall colors.
    • Is there anything we could particularly use? I just dropped a dress size so I need new bottoms for teaching.

Now make a list for each family member on an index card and post it on your refrigerator to take to the sale.

  • If you are seeking a big ticket item hit the Web and do some research, so you have a fair idea what you want before you go through the door. This is the best protection against a poor impulse buy. Last year I was looking for slip-proof pool shoes. So I spent sometime in my local retailers checking out styles and options. I ended up getting Lil’man a nice pair of Keens for a fourth retail.
  • Set a budget. This is important. Think seriously about how much you are willing to spend, where in your books that money will come from and stick to that number. Write your budgeted amount on your index card.

What to take/wear:

  • Your index card list
  • An I pod or Mp3 player with batteries
  • Snacks and a beverage
  • Recyclable grocery bags to bring home your booty
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Be prepared to leave large purses and bags in the car or if you are on foot/public transit consider bring a backpack you can “check” at the sales counter.
  • Also if you are going to be buying for yourself wear something were it will be easy to pull clothes over your head and check a mirror (I favor jeans and a sleeveless tank top).

While you are shopping consider the following questions:

  • Is this item a good value?
  • Will it go with the items I already own (color, styles, print)?
  • Is it something we will actually use?
  • Do we have a similar item already?

Finally I suggest:

  • You take plenty of time to look and browse every section of the sale.
  • Shop alone. Leave your children at home and have some “you” time.
  • Before going to the register carefully “purge your pile” to make sure you are buying only what you want.

Frugally yours-

KC