>> Friday, May 15, 2009
After my post about thrift stores in Raleigh, a friend directed me to two children's consignment stores in the area: The Children's Orchard and Kid to Kid. I was pleased to find a good selection of quality used clothing at both of these stores, particularly much more choice in the shoe department.
Like thrift stores, consignment stores sell used goods such as clothing, furniture, home decor, toys, music, videos, musical instruments, and much more. However, consignment stores differ from thrift stores in several ways:
Consignment stores sell used items for profit rather than for charity. When a person places a used item with a consignment shop, he retains ownership of that item until it sells. At that point, both the store and the original owner of the item earn a portion of the proceeds from the sale.
Consignment stores tend to be considerably more expensive than thrift stores. At both The Children's Orchard and Kid 2 Kid, the clothing prices range from about $3 (for t-shirts and shorts) to $15 (for suits and fancy dresses). These are about the same prices that I was paying when I bought most of my kid's clothes new and on sale at Target, JC Penny, or The Children's Place Outlet. But consignment stores also have end-of-season sales, so if you can plan ahead for the next year, you can find some pretty rockin' deals.
Consignment stores have consistently higher quality items than thrift stores. Thrift store shopping is like being on a treasure hunt - if you keep looking and looking, eventually you'll find good quality, stylish clothing hidden amidst all the junk. But shopping at a consignment store is more like doing your regular clothing shopping - you can hit a couple of stores on a weekend and have an entire wardrobe assembled. For someone like me, who's not the biggest fan of thrift store shopping (or shopping in general), that factor can make used clothing shopping seem much more appealing.
As a final point of interest, I should mention that both of these consignment stores are chain franchises. Franchises provide a way for someone to start their own business with less risk by using a business model that someone else has already used successfully. But franchises also contribute to the monoculture of American stores and don't support the local economy as fully as a truly locally-owned consignment store would. Currently, this is a minor point for me, but depending on your values, it may be worth it to you to seek out some other consignment stores in the area.
Because of all of these factors, I'm still leaning toward thrift stores as my primary source of children's clothing, using consignment stores to fill in the gaps with hard-to-find used items like shoes and jeans that aren't butt ugly. And my kids are pretty psyched about the better toy selection.
Do you have a favorite consignment shop?