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Anna G. Larson, Published August 22 2013

Resell, restyle: Make most of clothing resale experience

Fargo - The price tags on Tina Kraft’s brand-new Rachel Zoe dress and Michael Kors shoes totaled nearly $1,000.

But the 38-year-old Fargo woman didn’t pay a grand. Instead, Kraft found the designer goods at a local consignment store called My Best Friend’s Closet and paid $200 total for the dress and shoes.

Kraft says it was still a lot of money but only a fraction of what she would’ve paid at a department store or boutique.

“Clothes have gotten to be way more expensive,” she says. “It’s fun to find those things that are hardly used that I wouldn’t be able to purchase otherwise.”

The resale industry has grown 7 percent a year for the past two years, and about 12 to 15 percent of Americans shop at resale and consignment stores in a given year, according to The Association of Resale Professionals and America’s Research Group.

Kraft shops at resale and consignment stores and also consigns her own like-new clothing, shoes and accessories. It’s something she’s been doing for about seven years, and she brings items into My Best Friend’s Closet every month and a half.

“You can only have so many clothes that you wear. If I’m not going to wear it, I may as well get some value out of it,” Kraft says.

She made an appointment at My Best Friend’s Closet for her first few batches of items, but now she just drops in with just a few items more frequently.

Glenda Haugen, owner of My Best Friend’s Closet, says she hears more about consignment and resale shopping all the time. She’s seen her business continue to grow in the decade it’s been open.

“Even though the economy is supposedly getting better, I think people are more conscious of how they spend their money, and if they can get a good deal on things that they’d ordinarily buy, I think they’re willing to do it,” Haugen says.

The requirements at the consignment store are consistent with resale stores in the area like Clothes Mentor and Plato’s Closet. There’s no limit to how many items a person can bring in, but the items should be of current fashion, clean, odor- and pet-hair free, and in good overall condition. Rips and tears on clothing are a no-no, and it’s best to bring items in shopping bags or totes, Haugen says.

Once a seller has their like-new items laundered and neatly packed for inspection, trained employees will go through them and pick which ones they’ll accept based on condition, brand and demand.

Employees at My Best Friend’s Closet price the accepted items at about 30 to 40 percent of their retail cost. When an item sells, the money goes directly into the seller’s account, and they receive 50 percent of the selling price.

For example, a handbag that sells new in a store for $300 would be priced between $90 and $120. Once sold, the seller would receive $45 to $60.

Items at My Best Friend’s Closet are marked down after 40, 60 and 90 days, resulting in a 70 percent discount off the first price. The purse that sells for $90 would be marked down to $27 if it didn’t sell within 90 days. After the 70 percent markdown, items stay on the floor an additional 30 days before being donated to women’s charities, Haugen says.

At cash-on-the-spot reselling venues like Clothes Mentor, the process is a little different. Rather than waiting for an item to sell, sellers are paid when they bring in their items and usually receive 35 to 40 percent of the selling price, says Christine Ilvedson, owner of Clothes Mentor in Fargo.

“We’re taking the chance that it’s going to sell. If it doesn’t sell, it’s on us. That’s why we have to be selective,” she says.

Like My Best Friend’s Closet, items are marked down periodically, and what doesn’t sell is donated twice a year.

Clothes Mentor uses a computer system to price items, and the system keeps track of like items that the store has sold in the past so pricing stays fair and consistent, Ilvedson says.

For example, an employee can type “Ann Taylor white top, long-sleeved,” and the computer spits out a price. Employees can use their own discretion based on the local market as well, Ilvedson says.

Clothes Mentor manager Shantelle Peterson says women in the 25 to 55 year-old age range are a bulk of their customers and sellers, and the average customer/seller age is 37 or 38.

“Clothing is more of an investment at that age, but you still want to look trendy,” she says.

Both Ilvedson and Peterson say that once people see the prices at resale and consignment shops, it’s difficult for them to pay full price at retail stores.

“It jades you,” Ilvedson says.

Peterson adds that even if the economy were “awesome,” many people would still want to buy items at resale and consignment stores.

“Having tasted the fact that you can get these clothes at these prices … why wouldn’t you?” she says.

For Kraft, consigning is a way of life now, and she looks forward to shopping just as much as selling. The hunt for the hidden gems keeps it interesting, she says.

“I’ve gotten some great finds, and some of the pieces are timeless and become nice staples in my closet that I never get rid of,” she says. “They’re fabulous! I don’t know why someone would let them go.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Anna G. Larson at (701) 241-5525

RESELLING TIPS

FARGO – You’ve cleaned out your closet and decided to sell or consign. Now what?

Local consignment and resale store owners and managers share tips for success.

- Presentation matters.

Freshly laundered items that don’t have odor, stains, holes or tears should be packed a shopping bag or laundry basket since the clothes will stay folded and neat, says Christine Ilvedson, owner of Clothes Mentor in Fargo.

Hangers get tangled, and garbage bags don’t keep clothing organized, she says.

“The neater they are, the cleaner they are, the more likely we are to buy them,” Ilvedson says.

- Keep ’em current.

No matter how great the condition of something is, if it’s from six years ago, no one’s buying it, Ilvedson says.

Clothes Mentor, Plato’s Closet and My Best Friend’s Closet list current fashion as a major buying factor.

Of course, it doesn’t apply to everything. Exceptions at Clothes Mentor are designer purses that are in top shape.

- Go when it’s slow.

Stores are going to be busier with shoppers on weekends. For quicker reselling, choose a weeknight to bring items in, says Jenny McColm, manager of Once Upon a Child in Fargo.

- It’s OK to say no.

Each reselling and consignment shop we talked with said sellers can reject a price offered for their item.

“People can refuse the entire offer or take partial or everything. It is their clothes. We give them the option,” says Plato’s Closet manager Lori Eddy. “They have the right to decide yes or no. We rarely get too many declines.”

- Don’t wait.

Examine your closet each season, and decide what you haven’t worn.

“If you haven’t worn something in a season, bring it in and consign it. Don’t let it just sit because then it goes out of fashion,” says Glenda Haugen, owner of My Best Friend’s Closet.

- Know brands.

Plato’s Closet accepts junior brands like Hollister, Abercrombie and Fitch, Forever 21, in addition to designer labels.

Clothes Mentor and My Best Friend’s Closet don’t accept junior brands and instead favor designer labels (Michael Kors is especially popular right now) and name brands such as Gap, Ann Taylor, Chico’s, J. Crew and Banana Republic.

Each store’s website lists common brands they accept.

– Anna Larson, The Forum

A guide to local resale shops

Just For You Clothing

855 45th St. S., Fargo

What they buy and sell: New and gently used juniors, young misses and women’s clothing, including plus-sizes.

Currently accepting: Fall items.

Cash on the spot or consignment? They do both. When items are bought on the spot, the seller gets about 20 percent of the store’s selling price.

Consigned items are on the racks for 90 days. If they don’t sell, the items are donated. If they do sell, the seller gets 50 percent of the selling price.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday

Phone: (701) 277-0427

Website: www.justtrendz.com or www.facebook.com/justtrendz

Plato’s Closet

2551 45th St. S.W., Fargo

What they buy and sell: New and gently used clothes, shoes and accessories for teens, men and women.

Currently accepting: All seasons.

Cash on the spot or consignment? Cash on the spot. Sellers typically receive 30 to 40 percent of the price that Plato’s can sell an item for. Some high-demand items like denim from The Buckle can be priced higher so sellers receive up to 50 percent of the selling price.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

Phone: (701) 356-3800

Website: www.platosclosetfargo.com or www.facebook.com/platosclosetfargo

My Best Friend’s Closet

1617 32nd Ave. S., Fargo

What they buy and sell: Like-new and new brand-name and designer women’s shoes, accessories and clothing size 0 to 3X.

Currently accepting: Fall items.

Cash on the spot or consignment? Consignment. People receive 50 percent of the selling price once the item is sold.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

Phone: (701) 212-1567

Website: www.mybestfriendscloset.biz, www.facebook.com/mybestfriendscloset.biz

Clothes Mentor

2551 45th St. S. # 113, Fargo

What they buy and sell: Brand-name gently used shoes, accessories and clothing for women sizes 0 to 26, plus petite and maternity items.

Currently accepting: All seasons, but it’s subject to change if the store is overstocked.

Cash on the spot or consignment? Cash on the spot. Sellers receive 35 to 40 percent of the selling price.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

Phone: (701) 356-8010

Website: www.clothesmentor.com or www.facebook.com/clothesmentorfargo.

Once Upon a Child

2551 45th St. S., Fargo

What they buy and sell: New and gently used toddler beds, changing tables, strollers, highchairs, toys and children’s clothing from infant sizes to 14-16.

Currently accepting: All seasons.

Cash on the spot or consignment? Cash on the spot. People receive about 35 percent of the selling price.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

Phone: (701) 282-5222

Website: www.onceuponachildfargo.com or www.facebook.com/onceuponachildfargo

Kinder Kloset

745 45th St. S.W., Fargo

What they buy and sell: Children’s clothing, toys, books, furniture (such as changing tables and toddler beds) and other items like strollers and high chairs. Clothes are only bought on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Other items can be brought in at any time.

Currently accepting: Fall and winter clothing.

Cash on the spot or consignment? Cash on the spot. The amount that sellers receive for items varies based on quality.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

Phone: (701) 277-1211

Website: www.kinderklosetfargo.com