By KASHAELA BARBER
MARIETTA, Ga. – It costs $50 for a pair of Levi’s, $20 for a tank top, $30 for a bold necklace to accessorize, $100 for the handbag, $300 for the vintage jacket and $3,000 for a pair of Christian Louboutin high heels. When you’re shopping the latest fashions and matching it with vintage finds to express style, it can be expensive–but it doesn’t have to be.
Instead of spending big bucks on brand names, people are turning to thrift, consignment and pre-loved clothing stores–so where are these clothing stores? The answer is, “Right here in Georgia.” Cillies is just one of the stores that sells pre-loved, brand-name and trendy clothing for low prices.
The Mark Up
According to sources like chron.com, clothes for specialty retail stores can average a 16 percent markup. For designer labels, that markup can range from 55 to 62 percent, and some items can be marked up as much as 260 percent.
In 2011, The Wall Street Journal reported it takes around $50 to make a pair of True Religion jeans, which sell for $150 at wholesale. In retail stores, that same pair of True Religion jeans sells for $300 or more. Depending on the quality, some jeans can be made for $20. It doesn’t matter the size of the markup, it’s cheaper to buy a previously owned and worn pair at places like Cillies.
Yuck… Paying for Hand-Me-Downs?
Jennifer Hayes, owner of Cillies, says people who have never shopped consignment have a misconception of clothes being dirty and disgusting because they were previously owned.
“Some people think it’s gross. We are really picky about what we take, though. Sometimes clothes smell like moth balls. Sometimes they smell like cigarettes. If it does, we don’t take it. I remember when we first started some people were like, ‘Yuck you’re wearing someone else’s clothes.’ Things have changed in the last years. I think people have gotten over it,” Hayes said.
Lisa Parisse is the owner of Sassy Peach Resale Boutique, which she opened after shopping for years in her family’s vintage and antique stores in Michigan. Although 90 percent of her wardrobe is pre-loved, she notices that people think it’s gross that she wears clothes that were previously owned.
“It’s the same as going to a retail store and trying on an outfit that everyone has tried on and didn’t buy,” said Parisse.
Hayes and Parisse agree on the misconception of filth, but both assure they only select pieces with “life in them.”
“The number one thing that we look at is style. Then we look at the wear and tear. Are there any stains, holes or missing buttons? Maybe the zipper is broken,” Hayes explains. “Then we look at the brand and that’s how we price it. If something is from Rue 21 we know they may have spent $5 for it so we wouldn’t price it for $10,” Hayes said.
How Does This Pre-loved Thing Work?
Resale stores get their merchandise different ways. Since Cillies is geared more to the teen through young adult population, Hayes has a system similar to Plato’s Closet. People come in during business hours to sell their used clothing. Lisa’s boutique will give cash in exchange for clothes as well as buying clothes from estate sales and other thrift stores.
“A lot of our stuff comes from customers who don’t want to deal with consignment. They come in and I’ll give them a set price. They continue to come back because I give them a better price than most would,” Parisse said.
The Benefits of Shopping Resale
Shopping resale can save you money but the benefits are about more than money. When shopping at big retail stores, many find that there is less variety in style. Shopping pre-loved can make a wardrobe more unique with its array of styles and vintage, one-of-a-kind pieces.
“[Department stores] don’t have the room for more. Whatever outfit they do have, they have to have 50 of that one outfit. I probably have 50 different blouses on one rack alone,” Parisse said.
When buying resale, the price of clothing is cheaper, but many times the brands and quality are still good. Many customers can’t tell that a blouse came from a consignment shop just by looking at it, for example.
“Some of the moms who shop in here for their teenage daughters will say they’re going to rip the tag off because their daughters don’t know that they shop here. I guess the girls get upset about it sometimes. Back-to-school season is our busiest season. It’s actually way busier than Christmas, if you can believe it.”
Trends fluctuate, so purchasing jewelry to accessorize an outfit is more practical to buy pre-loved rather than retail.
“Jewelry is a big seller. I have vintage and costume [jewelry]. Vintage modern is really popular right now,” Parisse said. “You can also get the vintage jewelry and pair it with a new outfit. That was actually in a Vogue magazine I read at my doctor’s office last week.”
For students who are on a budget but still want to show off their style, customer Mackenzy Congdon says Sassy Peach Resale Boutique it’s the ultimate place to be.
“It’s hard going to the mall especially as a college student. I can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars on clothes I can find here. Some of these still have tags on them. The cost and the convenience is what I think brings people in. There is something for everyone here,” said Congdon who is also an employee of Sassy Peach.
Jennifer Hayes wants people to know it’s not just the pricing and brands that keep people coming back. She says she wants to give people an experience in smaller resale boutiques.
“We try to offer the best customer service. It’s hard to shop in big places like Target or Walmart. A lot of these places, I walk in and I can’t find anyone to help me. We try and give the best experience possible. We like to give southern hospitality.”