Her method for getting free consignment store clothing

My Story: Free Consignment Clothing

contributed by Van from Alabama


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I learned this from my older sister. She has passed away now, but according to her Navy Chief husband, she never let go of a nickel until the buffalo cried. When their family was stationed on Guam, my sister had to take down a lot of furniture, art and carpets, because the captain's wife was angry that her house was not as nice. Why? My sister thrift shopped and hit the yard sales for every item she owned. She was a master at finding out when someone was moving and being there first to pick up cheap, good items she had seen.

She taught me how to dress a family for nothing. First, you need to have consignment stores available that have what your family needs. Then estimate how much you will need to spend each season on clothing at that consignment store to cover all of the family's needs. Take into account preferences for name brands, etc. Now, at the end of summer, when the thrift stores and yard sales are discounting summer clothing, buy name brand, clean summer stock that will still be in style next year in all sorts of sizes. Pay no more than $1.50 per item on average. You will on average double your money when you consign. So, invest enough to make what you decided you'd need to clothe your family in addition to what you initially laid out. You will be consigning at several stores to be sure each family member is covered. During fall, winter and spring, clean, iron, repair, add buttons, and cut strings to present your clothing well. Store it until the consignment store is taking summer items. Get to know the folks behind the counter at the thrift store. Let them tell you when the discounts are planned. Be the first there for the best bargains.

Repeat this process at the end of each season. When a year has passed, you will have accounts at your chosen consignment stores that will cover your clothing needs and yield the initial investment back to you. From then on, the family will be clothed on money from the last season. Yes, my sister did this, and I did it for my five children. Although my young ones have flown the nest, I still do this for myself. The tough part is putting in the initial investment. Start a savings account especially for that goal, and you will find you are able to do this quickly.

Here are some tips. Stay with high resale items. You do not have to consign the same items your family needs. For children's clothing, the best mark-ups are on girls' dresses or two-piece matching outfits. Bay clothes are too plentiful and you cannot make money unless you get them for about $.25. Boys' clothing does not yield as much, so stick to girls' stuff and use the money to buy boys' stuff if needed. Men's suits do well, as do men's pants and golf shirts. Women's pants, skirts, sweaters, and shirts do well. Also high-end casual dresses for women do well. Stay away from prom dresses. They do not have good resale value. For women, you are looking for designer labels (Talbot, Anne Taylor, Evan Picone, etc.). Bring a small flashlight to inspect the items. Do not buy items that look worn or have sweat stains at the armpits. Do not purchase stained items unless you are good at stain removal. Wash and wear sells better than dry clean only. However, woolens that are dry clean only do well. Look for expensive items that need a button or a quick seam repair.

Most importantly, stay in touch with your consignment store owner. Call and ask what items he/she is generally short on. Ask what styles are doing well. Ask what brands they accept and do not accept. If you buy an item you cannot resell, donate it and keep the receipt for the tax write-off.

Once you get good at this, it is amazingly fun and will save you a lot of money. At present, I clothe myself and my husband and make a little pin money, too.


"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it to MyStory@stretcher.com

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  • Visit the TDS library for more on clothing. There's something there for everyone from information on stain removal to buying retail to sewing and repairing your clothing.

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