Secondhand Savings Sales Up 35 Percent

January 8, 2009 6:22:20 PM PST
The economy is in a tailspin and so is consumer spending. But, buying is booming in one area secondhand shops ... up by 35 percent at many stores.Susan Schwartz found a designer gown at one sixth of its original price.

"The value is tremendous. I love it! I love it," Schwartz.

She bought the dress at a consignment shop. These stores accept clothing from individuals, and take a percentage of the sale price. The clothing must be close to mint condition.

Consumer Reports' Personal Finance Expert, Tobie Stanger, finds some of her own clothes in consignment stores.

Tobie Stanger said, "Sometimes in consignment shops you can find clothing with the tags still on. That means it's never been worn."

And the price drops significantly the longer the clothing stays in the store ... sometimes to just a few dollars. A smart tip: "Let the owner know what you're interested in. Then when new stuff comes in she can call you," said Stanger.

Nonprofit thrift stores like goodwill and the Salvation Army are even less expensive and often have a bigger selection.

And the money you spend goes to charity. Consumer Reports warns to check carefully for rips or stains. And don't buy anything that really doesn't fit.

"You're not likely to be able to return anything," said Stanger.

"Oh, so you're ready?

"I'm ready!"

Shoppers say finding the perfect thing at a rock bottom price is worth the hunt.

"This wool suit with a top, five dollars!!," said Stanger.

Consumer Reports says don't confuse consignment stores with vintage shops, where clothing is a lot pricier. Check out the Yellow Pages or go online to find nearby consignment stores.

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