Consignment vs. Retail

10:36 PM, Jan 22, 2014   |    comments
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KUSA - We're all looking for ways to save money.

When it comes to clothes - sometimes buying used can save thousands of dollars.

You can get good deals at consignment stores, especially on designer brands. However, not everyone has the time to look through racks of clothes that only have one size of each piece.

But if it saves money, it may be worth the time.

"You get name brand, but at a third of what you would pay retail," Your Best Friend's Closet owner Elizabeth Reinig said. "And that's our starting price."

At many consignment shops the prices will go down every month. So some shoppers may choose to wait to purchase something pricey - in the hopes that the next time they stop by it will be less expensive. But, the next time you go back, the piece you wanted may be gone. (It's happened to me before.)

I once paid $63 for a Diane Von Furstenberg dress that likely retailed for well over $300.

Some may think $63 sounds like a lot to pay for a used dress. But if you've done your homework and priced specific brands - you'll know a great deal when you see one. It was a great deal!

But if you're not prepared to spend $63 on a dress, remember that
consignment shops have a wide range of merchandise - from high-end designer pieces to less expensive brands. Some will even have a clearance rack where you can find stuff for a few bucks - if it's been there a long time.

Just like at retail stores, if an item has been hanging a rack for months - it goes to the clearance section. I always start there first - and then work my way to the designer rack.

The biggest downside to consignment shopping is that some stores have a no return policy. Once you pay it's yours. That's because the store is obligated to pay the consigner their portion of the sale.

Your Best Friend's Closet has a generous policy for the consigner. If the consigner left good clothes at the store, they can expect to make some good money when their clothes sell.

I have done this and rather than accept a check for my items they sold - Instead I apply the balance they owe me to my next purchase. It's used as a credit for my next shopping spree.

Plus, if you use a credit (from clothes you sold), the store will take 10 percent off your next total purchase. It's kind of like a loyalty card. But this time you only have to give them your name (and address - if you choose to receive a check every month. I always shun the check for the credit!

The biggest upside to shopping retail is that you can return just about anything, as long as it's in a timely manner and the garments still have tags and look new. Having the option to change your mind can be priceless to some shoppers.

Nordstrom, for example, has a good, flexible return policy, that is likely the reason so many shoppers continue to shop with the retail giant.

"We'll make sure we can take things back and make it as easy as possible for you," Nordstrom spokesperson Kelly Skahan said. "Our ultimate objective is always satisfying our customers. We want then to be really satisfied with the merchandise that they purchase from us."

I have also been very satisfied with clothes I have purchased at Nordstrom. But if I changed my mind, the return process was always a pleasant one. Knowing you can return an item means you don't have to agonize over something before you buy it. If you change your mind in an hour, you know you can take it back and a Nordstrom salesperson will welcome you with a smile.

I do agonize a little at consignment shops before I buy a pricey piece. But in the end - I make a commitment, walk out of the store with my designer piece - and know that I can't return it. Nor do I want to because it was such a good deal!

And when I try garments on - Reining tells me if she likes it on me or if she doesn't. Sometimes she says, 'That's perfect on you,' and other times she will say, 'It's not you.'

I always end up walking out with clothes I love and that I feel comfortable wearing. But I must say I have also worked with outstanding salespeople at Nordstrom too, who are ready with honest opinions.

Whether your decide on retail or consignment, be sure to find a sales associate who you trust and understands your taste.

If you're wondering about men's consigned clothes, you can find a few in the metro area. Maybe men will start consignment shopping once they figure out how much they can save. They can use the money they save to buy a bigger flatscreen TV to watch the Broncos win the Super Bowl.

Find out how to save more than $1,000 in one shopping trip here.


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