Making the most of consignment shops

11/3/2011 - The Washington Post &

Making the most of consignment shops

By Natalie P. McNeal

Hi, My Frugs! I had an awesome Twitter #dealchat with Jeanne Nicholson, marketing director of Second Time Around consignment shop, last week. Yes, that Second Time Around of Bravo TV's Fashion Hunter's fame. I just had such a great conversation with her that I asked her to do a Q&A for the blog. Please enjoy these insider tips on consigning! I have more info from the other #dealchat guest, Imperfect Concept, coming soon! xoxo!

Frugalista's Fab Interview with Jeanne Nicholson of Second Time Around Consignment!

1) What are the things that consignment shops look to buy from people? What designers and fabrics are the most coveted? I hear cashmere is a fabric that will sell well. I really enjoyed the Birkin Bag Fashion Hunters episode!
Cashmere is always a great winter style option! I would say that the number one item that sells the best would be a handbag. If you have a handbag by a top designer - such as Louis Vuitton, Hermes, YSL, Marc Jacobs - you've got consignment gold, especially if the bag is leather. People always snap up the Louis Vuitton bags that we have in the store, and with our wish lists, sometimes they don't even make it onto the floor! Since you don't need to worry about it fitting, handbags are a staple that every woman can invest in.

2) How much of the money can a person who wants to sell to you expect to get? What percent of what they pay for it? Or does it depend on the quality or if J-Lo wore it on the red carpet?
If your item is new with tags, we automatically price it at half of what the tag says. If it's been worn, then we price the item at 1/3-1/4 of its original value. If you have a celebrity item, then that will up the price a bit, especially if it's a high-profile celebrity and the item is in good condition! You can definitely get a good amount of money for things that you'll never wear again.

3) Why is shopping consignment a good idea? I think it's great for the environment, but I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Shopping consignment is great for the environment and your bank account. As someone who has consigned and bought from consignment stores, once you try it, you'll never go back. It's a completely different way to live the shopping hunt, it's like going into your stylish best friend or sister's closet and coming out owning the best stuff! The best part is that you can find the most unbelievable deals at consignment store, hands-down.

4) When is the best time to find sales and deals at consignment shops?
Just like a normal retail store, we too have end of the season sales for winter and summer merchandise. But at our stores, we also have sporadic, shorter sales, such as our Columbus Day sale and Black Friday sale, so it definitely pays to be on our email list to get the inside scoop!

5) Do you think becoming friends with the sales associates is a good trick to find out when the good buys are in stock?
The sales associates can be your best style friends. Not only do they know what's on the floor, but if you tell them what designers and what pieces you're dying to have, they can keep you in mind for when they get those items in the future. And you never know, they could have an item that you've been wanting in the back currently being processed and it hasn't hit the floor yet. Those are the times it pays to chat them up!

6) How is Fashion Hunters going? How many fashion historians do you work with? It's really like you are buying or selling fine art, no?
Fashion Hunters has been incredible for STA. Style is style, no matter if you're buying clothing or art. People really take it to heart, which is why we think so many people can relate to Fashion Hunters and the consignment process. People definitely take their items personally, which is why it's important for us to authenticate them and be accurate about their original values. We're so grateful that such big names in the fashion industry have been willing to go on camera and assess the pieces that you see on the show, sometimes it takes a special expertise in this field!

7) What is it like working for STA? Have you noticed an increase in interest since the economy has changed?
Personally, this is a dream job! Marketing for a high-end fashion company that makes designer apparel affordable is incredibly rewarding (and fun!) The economy has been a huge factor in the consignment world. People are really looking to get the most for their money, and with consignment, you can get name brand merchandise for a fraction of the original value. Consignment has also become a great way for people to get a return on their original investment. If you're not going to wear an item, you can consign it and make money instead of having it take up space in your closet, and it truly becomes a win-win.

Should a person dress up before bringing in their clothing?

At our stores, we say come as you are! If you have high-end designer items, you could come in dressed in a trash bag and we probably won't notice!

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