hooked on seconds

By Brenda Tadych
Woman Newspapers

My first foray into consignment store shopping happened when I was 28. I vividly remember because I gained a lot of weight that year. I expanded to a size 14 and thought, "hell no, there’s no way I’m paying retail prices - I’m not going to be in that size for long!” So, I began a search for second-hand stores. 

Back then, there was a undeserved stigma associated with second-hand clothing stores.  I’m the first to admit, I was accustomed to crisp, new department store clothes and half-expected a hodgepodge yard-sale-type of experience in any store selling “used goods.”  I was skeptical to say the least.

My second-hand shopping experience kicked off at a little consignment clothing store I found in Highspire. What a pleasant and reassuring surprise! It wasn't smelly or dingy in the least and the clothing looked like it could have been hanging in any department store. And the price - are you kidding?! After that first thrifty experiment, I was hooked.

While I still feel right at home wandering from shop to shop through a mall, I have to tell you, I hit the outlets and second-hand stores more often than not these days. The best things in my closet weren't free, but they were probably darn cheap.

Of course, when I've just got to have that certain top or pair of pants, it’s off to the mall I go. But my closet is balanced with a mix of high end and bargain basement. I pair a top that I splurged on at King of Prussia Mall with my $13 jeans, or shoes I bought at Plum Bottom with a sweater of unknown origin.

I get the rush of a spectacular sale every time I score at a consignment shop. I'm talking nine or ten new pieces for somewhere around $100. Oh, the joy of leaving a store with a new wardrobe! It's SO exciting!

I'll pay extra for quality, but what really pisses me off is when I spend good money on retail pricing and get the item home to find the seam splits or the lovely vibrant color that so attracted me fades despite careful laundering. Lesson learned: The only thing a designer brand name guarantees is an expensive price tag.

Yes, it’s a gamble shopping second-hand, but I know shopping is a lot like poker and I’ve got to trust my instincts about whether or not it’s going to be a good day for a certain store. But as every gambler knows, I can’t win them all and I just might leave a store empty-handed.