Buying clothing and keeping up with fashion trends can get pricey. A lot of people opt to go secondhand for clothes shopping nowadays, but there are a few options when it comes to secondhand shopping. Thrift shops and consignment stores may seem essentially the same, but in reality, there are some key differences that can make or break your shopping experience.
The majority of thrift shops are donation-based. This means that they accept clothing and other goods from people who wish to give them away, then resell those items to turn a profit. Many thrift shops are also centered on a charity or non-profit organization so all profits made go towards the organization.
Consignment stores typically work one of two ways. In both cases, people bring in used goods. The difference lies in when the people get paid for the items they bring in. The shop staff either buys them from the person at the time they are brought in, or the staff puts the items out in the shop and if the items sell, the shop takes a percentage of the sale and the rest goes to the person who brought it there.
Because of the vital difference between donation-based versus reselling, the types, quality, and price of items found in thrift shops and consignment stores are quite contrasting. Here is a breakdown of when the different types of stores are your best bet for shopping:
Thrifting is your best bet when…
- You’re broke: almost always cheaper than consignment stores
- If you’re looking for casual clothing: thrift stores tend to be more accepting of any quality so if you are looking for something nicer, you might have more trouble finding something. A garment of good quality might sell for more at a consignment shop, so the owner would probably take it there rather than in a thrift store.
- You’re looking for accessories: People often give away their small accessories like jewelry and scarves that often pile up. They are cheap and abundant, typically of decent quality though if not, it would be easy to notice.
- You enjoy the hunt: Thrifting requires patience and time to go through the options and find a piece of gold amongst duds.
- You want vintage clothing: If you still are into the styles people were wearing in the 90s, thrift stores are definitely the place for you.
Consignment shops are your best bet when…
- You’re looking for nicer clothing: Whether it be for work or for a party, consignment shops weed out the lesser quality items from the get-go so you will have better luck finding something appropriate for a nice occasion.
- If you want high-end brands: Consignment shops are more likely to have that Anthropologie skirt you have wanted for ages but at a fraction of the cost.
- You want updated classics: Because they are picky about what they sell, consignment shops will have things dating only 3-5 years back typically unlike thrift shops that go decades back.
- You are looking for something specific: If you have something in mind that you are searching for, try consignment shops first because they tend to have targeted audiences and types of goods, opposed to thrift stores which tend to accept anything and everything. While the latter provides a great variety, it can be difficult to find something specific.
Secondhand shopping can be dicey if there are specific looks or items the shopper is looking for, however, they provide an excellent alternative to traditional shopping. Not only is it cheaper for the shopper, but it is also better for the environment. Secondhand shopping is recycling in a way so definitely keep that in mind when considering it. Investigate both or stick to one, whether you go thrifting or for the consignment store, either is a great choice.