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Consign yourself to the hunt

Ellen Albanese

A Tahari crepe jacket dress for $116. A Kate Spade bag for $70. A Crate & Barrel leather sofa for $750. Such are the bargains to be found in Cape Cod consignment shops. In the best-case consignment scenario, fashion-conscious people buy high-end clothing and home furnishings, tire of them quickly, and make them available to their neighbors at bargain prices.

Cape Cod is a hotbed of consignment shopping, with at least 14 stores from Falmouth to Orleans offering everything from designer clothing to vintage jewelry to furniture and baby clothes. Most have automatic markdown policies and donate items that don't sell after 60 days to local nonprofit organizations, ensuring ever-fresh inventories. Many have "wish lists." Looking for an Herm├Ęs scarf or size 10 ballet flats? Leave your name and number, and you'll get a call if the item comes in. Owners belong to an informal network, which produces a brochure you can pick up in any shop.

Here's a look at the Cape's consignment shopping trail. Since serious shopping requires a strong constitution, we've added suggestions on where to stop for lunch. And should your companion be a non-shopper we also include some fun places to explore in the vicinity of the shops.

Falmouth/Mashpee

Second Time Around, 10 Joy St., Mashpee, 508-539-3900. Lots of little black dresses and formal wear in this clean, well-organized shop, one of a chain with locations throughout New England and beyond. Fashions include Tahari, Ann Taylor, J. Crew, and lots of Talbots. There's a good selection of shoes, scarves, and handbags, and even maternity clothes. Dharma Imports are colorful tanks and tops made from recycled saris. Said Jennifer Green, visiting from Florida, "Everything is so clean and inviting, you'd think you were in Bloomingdale's."

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