Second-Hand an Increasingly Popular First Choice

You wouldn’t know it based on how the shares of mainstream apparel retailers have fared — but then again, Wall Street can be a little slow on the uptake when it comes to recognizing major economic and social shifts — but the proliferation of thrift and consignment shops selling all manner of clothing, from casual outfits to designer-label fashions to wedding gowns and formal wear, suggests Americans are growing more and more comfortable with the notion of not buying new and not paying full price for apparel. As the following reports seem to make clear, a bargain can be very trendy:

“Recession Has Many Looking Thrift Store Chic” (USA Today)

For Patrice J. Williams, shopping at thrift stores started out as a way she could dress like other women in her office without breaking the bank.

Now, she thinks of thrift shopping as a “treasure hunt” — one that benefits her closet and her wallet, says Williams, a 29-year-old freelance writer living in New York City.

“I didn’t tell people I thrifted at first,” says Williams, who created a blog dedicated to helping readers shop on a budget. “Now, I proudly tell my friends that my dress cost 50 cents.”

With millions of people looking for ways to save money in tough economic times, a growing number of consumers have turned to resale shops to find their clothes, furniture and household goods, said Adele Meyer, executive director of The Association of Resale Professionals.

Resale shops are thriving, popping up across the country. Within the last year, the number of resale shops has increased by 7%, Meyer said. Much of the recent growth can be attributed to young shoppers, many of whom are passing on trips to the mall in favor of thrift stores, says Britt Beemer, founder and chairman of America’s Research Group, which has studied the trend.

“Ms. Cheap: Wedding, Formal Consignment Shop Opens” (Tennessean)

I always like to keep up with the latest news on the cheap retail front, and today I’m happy to report a new wedding and formal wear consignment shop — Something Old Something New — that opened last month in Lenox Village off Nolensville Road.

The owner, Beth Glascock, learned the ins and outs of the special-occasion dress market through her volunteer efforts with the Fairy Godmother outreach program that she and her Vanderbilt Orthopaedics office organized to help needy high school girls get dresses for their proms.

Now her brand-new, for-profit shop specializes in wedding gowns, bridesmaid, flower girl and mother-of-the-bride dresses, as well as other items you might need for a wedding, such as veils, shoes, vases, candles, guest books, wedding planning books and more, all on consignment.

A lot of the dresses are consigned by individuals, but Beth also has dresses from shops that closed, and she has aligned herself with several boutiques and stores, including one in New York, that often have excess wedding and formal inventory.

Beth said she is getting customers locally as well as some bargainista brides who make the trip from Alabama and Kentucky.

“Lynchburg Consignment Shop Specializes in Designer Jeans, Stylish Apparel” (The Burg)

There’s not much inside The Burnt Orange that isn’t for sale.

Owner Katie Hyatt will give you a good deal on everything from the clothes she consigns from local people (name brand jeans are her specialty) to the hangers they’re displayed on.

Just don’t try to make off with the Texas star that hangs on one of the consignment shop’s exposed brick walls.

“Everything in the store is for sale except for my Texas star,” says Hyatt, a native of Austin. “If you want to buy one of my wooden racks, you can.”

She’s even been known to sell the clothes off her back.

“I wear everything from the store,” says Hyatt, who recently sold her entire outfit to a woman who complimented it. “I want to encourage people to save and be wise about their money in this economy, while also feeling good about themselves.”

“Teens Open High-End Fashion Consignment Shop” (WTVT)

Walking through this Wesley Chapel Consignment shop, you can find just about every designer label: Gucci, Prada, Chanel, Ferragamo, Tori Burch and Christian LaCroix, to name a few.

What you will also find two other gems: the owners, Amber and Allie Malott — 16-year-old twin sisters.

“We love nice things,” they chime in together.

They had planned to open their boutique in a few years, with their own collection they designed. But then they met fashion consultant Tim Gunn at an event in Tampa, and he gave them some advice:

“He said to study business and marketing if we want to become fashion designers, without interning. We said somebody really needs to make a high-end consignment store. And we eventually said, nobody is, so we better,” Allie said.

They read fashion magazines to stay on top of the trends, and they do dress to impress, every day.

“That’s the whole thing about high-end clothing. They make you feel really good. The fit, the material, it just makes you feel special,” Allie said.

“Consignment Stores: A New Destination for Designer Fashions” (Crofton Patch)

The number of consignment stores in the county are growing as consumers, including fashion divas, realize they are the place to snap up designer bags, shoes and other items.

As a college student on a tight budget, Briana Printy discovered the way to stretching her clothing budget was to shop in consignment stores where the racks were filled with the designer labels she craved.

Inspired by the items she found and the shoppers she met, Printy, a Crofton native, opened her own store called Eye of the Beholder on Maryland Route 3 two months ago.

“Consignment shops are a great alternative to big box stores and department stores,” she said. “Stores like mine are where people can find lightly-used but high-quality designer items at good prices.”

“Startup News: New Site to Sell Your Old Clothes; New App to Sell Your Old iPhone Photos” (BetaBeat)

Secondhand News

The online consignment shop Refashioner.com (http://refashioner.com/) went live this week. Billed as a “curated, online eco-mmunity” for buying, selling and trading vintage clothing, users can apply to create a “closet” and upload pictures of used clothing to sell—which must be approved by the “ReFashion police.” For more info, we direct you to the site’s 10-point sustainable fashion manifesto.