Consignment stores offer value and selection. That's what my sister Debra discovered after she complained about the cost of maternity clothes at a national chain. A fashionable co-worker shared her money-saving secret:
Try consignment shops, which include items that are new with original tags. Shopping with a friend, my sister purchased a wardrobe of affordable maternity outfits and school clothes for a 10-year-old boy at a well-organized consignment store. Here's how they filled the shopping bag.
• Red-tag specials. Consignment and thrift stores have weekly specials, including red-tag sales on different categories of merchandise. For example, my sister and her friend found several outfits, including jeans and school clothes, for a total of $12. The price included a 50-percent discount from the weekly red-tag special. The affordable clothes were ideal for the pre-teen, who had outgrown his last wardrobe within months.
• Fruitful deals. At one national chain, my sister found a pair of maternity jeans for $79. At the consignment store, Debra found six pair of jeans and dress slacks, in excellent condition, for $10.20 and a pair of maternity denim shorts for 99 cents. At those prices, my sister was able to splurge on a wardrobe that she would need for less than a year.
• Seasonal garments. Consignment stores are an excellent place to hunt for ski clothes and other specialty outfits that may have been barely or never worn. For example, at one upscale consignment store, a friend spotted a full selection of ski clothes for pre-teens and teenagers. The deals included an insulated overall set for $12.
• Designer fashions. At one consignment store in a fashionable shopping district, I've found designer clothes, including Chanel bags, Prada dresses and Manolo Blahnik shoes. The prices are steep, but far less than the full retail prices at designer outlets.
Sharon is the author of the Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money and a contributing writer in Wise Bread's 10,0001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget.