I think the conversation may have come up after discussing a children's consignment event that occurs in our area about twice a year. I know a lot of moms that buy used kids clothes but never considered doing it for themselves.
Admitting that my clothes didn't come from the mall made me feel a little, well cheap.
In truth, I hate the thought that a lot of the clothes I bought at the mall and that still hang in my closet have only been worn a few times for a variety of reasons. Maybe they don't fit as well as I would like, I changed my mind about the item after I got home and never returned it, they need to be drycleaned which no longer fits my lifestyle, or I just don't have anyplace to wear them now that I have kids and don't work outside of the home. Not to mention that over the past four years I have either been pregnant or trying to shed my baby weight so my clothing size has changed several times.
In college I shopped at a consignment store and I even took clothes there to consign a few times. I would use the money I got from the clothes I took in to buy "new" clothes. I started doing it again a few years ago.
Consigning is easy to do. To find a store near you just look online or in your local yellow pages. Many places require an appointment to drop off clothes to consign. With the downturn in the economy many stores are booked a month or so in advance.
Check what the store's policies are. Many may only take desinger labels (that does include brands found at Macy's, Sears, and even Target and not just store brands like Gap and Aeropostale). Visit local consignment shops beforehand to see who sells clothes similar to what you have in your closet since that is probably where you will sell the most. When you arrive for your appointment, they will go through all of your clothes and may only accept certain items that they think will sell. They will also usually only take clothes that are in season. Right now the local shop where I consign is only accepting winter items (including boots, bulky sweaters, coats, etc.). They don't usually take just clothes but also shoes and accessories such as belts, scarves, jewelry, and hats. Keep in mind that they are looking for items in excellent condition and in style.
Within a set period (ex. 8 weeks) you may recieve 50% of what they sold your items for. Some stores may share a different percentage of the sale with the consigner. Stores vary on their payment policies also. Some may require you to go into the store and they will pay you in cash regardless of the amount or give you credit. Other stores may send you a check at the end of the consignment period if the amount of your sold clothing is over a set dollar amount (ex. $10).
At the end of the consignment date, you can pick up your clothes or they will donate them to local charities. Some stores may give a courtesy call to remind you to pick up your items. The one I frequent does not. You can request a tax form at the end of the year for any donations of your clothing that were made.
Shopping at consignment stores is like shopping at garage sales or thrift stores. Always check for stains or tears. Only buy items that are new with tags or in "like-new" condition. Sometimes the employees checking in items may miss small imperfections in the garments. All sales are usually final so examine the items and try them on before leaving the store.
You only want to buy clothes that you will wear and not buy items just because they are a good deal. Otherwise, you may just be adding more clothes to your wardrobe that you'll never wear. Also, if you don't find something on the day you visit keep in mind that they are usually getting new inventory in daily. Many stores also run sales when they start to take clothes for the next season on consignment. The consignment shops I have been in all accepted debit, credit, and cash for purchases just like regular stores.
These are some of the items I came home with from our local consignment shop. The items ranged from $2 on clearance to $12 (with the exception of the Lucky Jeans which were $40 but they made my butt look good so I thought that was a good enough reason to splurge). All of the clothing were from designers like Levi, Eddie Bauer, Ann Taylor, DKNY, and Old Navy and were like new.
So instead of sending your clothes to Goodwill right away or throwing them out, you can try to make a few dollars by dropping them off at a consignment store. Recycling the clothes in your closet and also buying used clothes is greener and a lot cheaper than shopping at the mall. Happy consigning and shopping!