I still love a good treasure hunt. As a girl, I once hid a shoe box of bouncy balls, cards and other odds and ends. Then I drew a map, collected a group of friends and “discovered” the treasure. I was thrilled to find my box of nick-knacks, even though I was the one that hid them. As an adult, I experience the thrill of a treasure hunt by shopping consignment stores. I love finding a beautiful, like-new silk blouse in a consignment shop. It’s a small treasure, and I feel like a pirate when I pay $15 for it.
With the exception of a few end of season sales, nearly all the clothes I purchase for myself and my children have been secondhand. I doubt that I will buy many clothes from traditional stores again.
I can afford better quality clothing by shopping consignment. If I were to shop mainstream, most of the clothing I could afford would be from the cheapest department stores. I wear these clothes out within a year. Thus shopping at stores like H&M and Target becomes quite expensive. Secondhand clothes from reputable brands last as long or longer than clothes from the cheaper department stores.
Consigned clothes are also more fun to wear than the clothes I buy new from cheaper stores. I love wearing my silk top or my cashmere sweater. My designer jeans fit and look better than the pair I bought from Target. I can feel and look rich without having to spend my children’s college fund.
Shopping for used clothes is less morally complicated than buying new. This might be my personal problem, but when I buy new, I wonder about the people who made my garments. Did they receive a living wage? Were they well treated? Should I even worry about these things, or should I assume that they consider a lousy sweatshop job better than no job?
I also worry about the environmental impact of my clothing choices. I eat mostly organic and grass fed, shouldn’t my cotton shirt be grown in a sustainable manner?
These moral questions can be easily assuaged when buying used clothing. My money is not supporting a morally ambiguous company, but (often) a local retailer. Also, I’m reducing the amount of waste by wear clothes that would be discarded.
I shop consignment stores over thrift, because I don’t have days to devote to shopping. The merchandise in consignment stores has been examined for quality and style. Thrift stores are less organized and have poorer selection. Better deals can be found at Goodwill and Salvation Army, but I don’t want to spend the time looking through the clothes to find them.
The best consignment stores are located in the wealthier towns. Wealthier people will buy more expensive clothing and wear them less. Consignment stores are like boutiques and often reflect the tastes of the owners. So, when I find a store I like I’m willing to drive an hour to shop there.
Recently, I have begun shopping at online consignment stores. It’s so much easier than trying to shop with two toddlers in tow. Shopping at traditional stores usually ends in a game of hide and seek under the coats, a slew of mangled shoes, and politely annoyed saleswomen. Since having kids, I avoid all stores unless absolutely necessary.
Online consignment stores are a saner option for moms of little ones. Stores like ThredUp, Twice, and NiftyThrifty offer a wide range of selection at a good price. Carefully check the sizes before you order and try to find reviews on the clothes. These websites accept refunds, but they charge shipping cost.
P.S. Follow this link for $10 to shop at ThredUp!