Consignment Shopping Tips + Why There’s Never Been a Better Time
I recently stopped into one of my favorite consignment shops, a place that doesn’t look like much from the outside but is a stickler for quality, and the racks were loaded with impeccable cashmere sweaters for under $40, wrap dresses by DVF and more. I ended up walking out with a Vince jacket and cashmere v-neck, a Theory sweater and an Anthropology top all in flawless condition for a tenth of the retail price.
I have a theory about why resale shops are brimming with quality goods at the moment that I’m going to call the Kon-Mari effect. As people are letting go of the pieces that no longer “spark joy” for them they are filling the racks at consignment stores with quality pieces. I spoke with one owner who had to stop accepting items for a month while she plays catch up and clears some space on the shelves and I’m sure she’s not alone.
Here’s what that means for you, along with a few tips for consignment shopping any time of the year.
The store “shoppers” are able to elevate their standards when there’s an influx of quality goods as shelf space is limited; meaning you get a better selection at slashed prices. In order to make the most of this…
Choose a shop that caters to your style. If you’re looking for on-trend pieces, Buffalo Exchange is usually an excellent place to start and if you’re looking for designer labels check out Wasteland in the Haight. For quality basics, Mary’s Exchange in Noe is a small shop with high standards (and the source of the aforementioned surplus of cashmere).
Go often as the inventory changes frequently. Most stores roll items out continuously unlike traditional retail cycles.
Don’t forget about the kids! Because they’re continually outgrowing items, there is a huge resale market for quality children’s clothing. Monkei miles is our favorite spot in the city with Chloe's Closet coming in a close second. You can also find maternity wear and toys at Chloe’s.
Shop off-season and look for investment pieces. One of my all-time favorite items I’ve picked up at a consignment shop is a tan leather jacket that I purchased on one of the warmest days of the year. While it wasn’t what I went in looking for and I may have been sweating in the dressing room, I’ve pulled it out of my closet over and over again for the past few years. Classic items made from quality materials will never go out of style so if you spot such an item and it fits, it’s usually a good investment. If it also happens to be off-season item like mine, the markdowns are generally much better, so it pays to keep an open mind.
Finally, know what to look for and what to avoid. I’ve never regretted picking up a silk blouse or a leather jacket but it can be easy to fall into the trap of gravitating towards trendy, fast fashion pieces that may not have a lot of life left in them and also may not be that much of a bargain when you look at the original retail price. Buy what you love no matter what but if you’re looking for a deal the cheapest item in the shop may not equal the best value. Conversely, don’t get too caught up in labels. While finding a DVF wrap dress for twenty-five dollars is a steal, if it’s not your style or it doesn’t fit properly it’s just going to clutter up your closet, and you should leave it for the next lucky shopper to find.
On a side note, while it seems as though everyone is currently in purge mode, it’s also an excellent time to consider your purchasing habits before filling those shelves back up. Checking out a shop that gives clothing a second life isn’t just good for your wallet. It also means less fast fashion heading to landfills and allows you to invest your money in higher quality pieces you can wear for years to come, a concept that should truly “spark joy.”