A discount clothing store aisle

Six tips to get the most out of your bargain hunting

July 27, 2021 Written by Maria Pippidis, County Director and Extension Educator

Resale, consignment and thrift shopping can be a way to find like-new clothing for bargain prices. Typically, secondhand shops price items 25 to 75 percent off of new retail cost. A dress that may cost $100 new might be priced at $25 in a consignment shop. During end-of-season sales, prices may be discounted even more. Here are 6 tips to get the most out of your bargain hunting:

  1. Explore the secondhand shops in your area. Find the stores that offer items with brands, styles and sizes that fit your taste and needs. Sign up for store mailers and follow social media pages to get updates about sales or special items that come into the store. Ask if the store has a frequent shopper card.
  2. Be a picky shopper. At resale and consignment shops, usually, the store employees have looked over the items before accepting them, but you definitely need to double-check. Look for stains, tears, missing buttons, broken zippers, holes in the pockets, etc. Also, check the sizing carefully; items that have been washed and dried may have shrunk, so make certain the clothes you are buying will fit.
  3. Thrift stores are different from resale and consignment stores. Items are donated to a thrift store. A thrift store will usually accept all items regardless of condition. Goodwill is an example of a nationwide thrift store. Prices may be even lower at thrift stores than resale and consignment shops, but as a shopper, you must be extra careful when checking garments for problems.
  4. Thrift stores are different from resale and consignment stores. Items are donated to a thrift store. A thrift store will usually accept all items regardless of condition. Goodwill is an example of a nationwide thrift store. Prices may be even lower at thrift stores than resale and consignment shops, but as a shopper, you must be extra careful when checking garments for problems.
  5. Know the store’s policies for returns. The majority of consignment stores will have a no-return policy. If the store does accept returns, expect a narrow window of time, such as 24 hours. A store credits the consigner’s account when an item sells; therefore, it is difficult to manage returns. Resale shops are more likely to accept returns, but again, it will be only for a short time, normally no longer than five to seven days. Thrift stores usually do not allow returns.
  6. To ensure that you are getting the highest quality merchandise at the best savings, check clothing brands. Different stores will have different pricing policies. Some stores may price all like items the same price. For example, all short-sleeve, knee-length dresses may be priced at $10 regardless of brand. If you find a designer brand dress that you like for $10, that might be a great deal; however, if it is a discount store chain dress, you may be paying close to full retail price for the item.

Buying at consignment shops can be a fun way to save money on items that you need! When you’re buying, remember to be patient. It takes time and effort to look for that perfect dress or pair of shoes for an event and so you will need to plan ahead and check back often.

 

 

Adapted from University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension publication FCS5-460 by Jennifer Hunter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences.


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