Fashion Recycling: Consignment Shops
posted by LIM College
When you are faced with the return to school after a break, and a huge chunk of your income has already gone to textbooks and supplies, how in the world will we afford the next season’s wardrobe? Recycling clothes has a long history, but in tight economies it becomes a craze, and certainly helps when you need extra cash for school outfits. All you need to do is bring in old clothing to a consignment shop and let the sales person do the work! They will pick which pieces they want to buy from you, and once they have the total dollar amount of your sale, you will get a percentage of that back in cash and/or store credit. Depending on the store’s policies, some will pay you on the spot, which allows you to use your store credit in the store at that very moment, while others will pay you once the item has been sold.
Two of my favorite consignment shops in New York are Buffalo Exchange and Beacon’s Closet. Buffalo Exchange, located in the East Village and Williamsburg, Brooklyn (as well as tons of other US locations), is one of the greatest places to buy unique and branded clothing on the cheap. I’ve gotten some great things there in the past, including a real fur coat in perfect condition—my store credit covered the cost of the coat, so I got it for free! You can find practically anything there, from H&M shirts for $8 or less to Ali Ro dresses and Seven jeans for $35! How could you resist?
Beacon’s Closet, in Williamsburg as well as Park Slope, has similar policies to Buffalo Exchange. I find that you will come across more vintage pieces at Beacon’s than at Buffalo, but prepare yourself to spend a full day digging through racks upon racks of color-coordinated clothing. As any experienced thrift shopper knows, the joy of thrifting comes from the thrill of the hunt.
Just a tip: Trendier consignment shops like Buffalo Exchange and Beacon’s Closet tend to be very picky about what they will buy from you (which means a better selection available when you buy from them). So before you lug suitcases of old clothes from your apartment to the store, it pays to call first and ask them what they are buying. These stores are very trend conscious, but they are also stock conscious. Even if floral dresses are the “it” item of the moment, chances are they won’t buy yours if they already have a ton on the racks.
Of course, there are certain items that one should always hold on to, for example, a basic denim jacket. I was pretty upset at myself for throwing out my old one once I realized they were making a comeback. Pieces like these are items that should be stored in your closet for later seasons. You never know when they might be the statement piece of the season.
-- Jenna Igneri
A related post about thrift shopping by Dana Rudnick, archived on the LIM Site