More for less — Consignment shops becoming more popular

MUNCY – During these tough economic times, consignment and re-sale stores are gaining popularity. Customers can get the best of both worlds; designer clothes for a reasonable price. Women and children especially have much to gain from shopping for gently used clothing. Often the apparel is barely worn or outgrown before it gets tossed out of the closet.

Two shops in the area always are getting new customers and keeping regular customers as well.

The merchandise changes daily. The stores also draw customers who want to earn some extra cash by selling the items they no longer need.

“Designer purses are a good selection for me,” said Charlene Hain, owner of Charlene’s Classic Castaways on Krist Road in Muncy Township, as she pointed to a $400 purse by Louis Vuitton. Hain has been in the business since 1996.

“It’s great here in Muncy. The shop is accessible to the highway and near the mall. Parking is great too,” said Hain, who sells mostly for women. She also carries Coach, Talbot and Ralph Lauren, among others. Shoppers are now showing a renewed interest in the growing shopping trend because they realize they can save money, said Jennifer Birdsall, who opened a consignment shop, ‘A Bloom Boutique’ last May off Route 220.

She specializes in children’s clothing as well as women’s, carrying all sizes. She offers consigners 40 percent of the selling price of an item. Birdsall also discounts her inventory at the end of each season on deals, and sales can be up to 80 percent off. “Consigners are free to remove their items at any time,” said Birdsall.

Percentage kickbacks remain the main incentive for bringing in new merchandise. Hain said she offers 50 percent and will buy the jewelry and large ticketed items outright. This puts cash immediately into the customers’ pockets allowing them to buy other items that they could use, or they can use the cash for store credit. All of the clothes are like new and Birdsall said she pays careful attention to press everything and make sure the clothes look good on the hangers.

There are guidelines such as no stains or tears. Contracts are required and often the owners will refuse items if they are not up to their standards. “All clothing must be freshly laundered before it comes to the store,” Birdsall said. Most children’s clothing in the small sizes, especially infant, rarely gets used as they outgrow them too quickly.

“I have great consigners here who bring in great children’s clothes at great prices,” she said.

Both stores are very selective, choosing only items that have a good chance to sell. There must be no stains, holes or missing buttons. At A Bloom Boutique, Gladys Dieter from Hughesville said, “It is a two way exchange.” Jill Stannert from Williamsport frequently visits Charlene’s Classic Castaways because she said she enjoys the thrill of the hunt, always looking for a good bargain. Consignment shops are simply a different way of recycling.

“Browsing through the shops is a lot of fun,” said Kim McHenry of Muncy, a frequent shopper.

According to the National Association of Resale Professionals, people would rather take their merchandise to a consignment or resale shop rather than throw it into the “waste stream.” A quality item might cost more at resale than an inferior item does new, but if something is well made, then the item has more value at resale. Items that don’t sell usually are donated to a local charity.

If interested in selling stylish items on consignment, both shop owners require an appointment first. However, they are open six days a week for shopping. To reach Charlene’s Classic Castaways, call 546-3904, and for A Bloom Boutique call 490-1393.