Over the past year I’ve really focused on saving money, increasing my earnings and investments and paying off debt. Through that time I’ve found a variety of techniques work and many that do not. So here’s a collection of tips that do work and how they save me money.
Today’s Tip: Shop Consignment Stores
It seems like a no-brainer, especially to those who are no stranger to thrift. But for most household items I can find them gently used at a consignment shop, garage sale, or donation center for pennies on the dollar. This Christmas many presents came from such locations including Christmas tins to hold candy, gift sets and even an awesome Lego set for a friend’s son for under $10! (As a reader of this blog I’m sure she won’t mind if I share my secrets)
Many of my books come from these shops and can be picked up for 50 cents or a dollar each. Compare that to $8 or $15 new and I’d be a much poorer reader.
When it comes time to comb through my closet and collect the items that I no longer wear I will take the clothes in like new condition, wash, iron, hang up each item and turn them in at my local consignment shop. The money isn’t fantastic but since I go every four to six months I don’t expect a large return.
Because children grow so quickly and it’s often hard to keep their “too small” clothes separated from the “just right” and “too big” ones, consignment and thift stores are a treasure chest for kid’s clothing. Or, they used to be.
Raise your hand if you’re aware of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.
I didn’t think so. I wasn’t aware until a blog I follow reported on the consequences of this Act which goes into effect February 10, 2009. One mandate of the Act is that every item of clothing for children 12 and younger sold after February 10th must be tested and certified clear of lead and phthalates. If an item of clothing does not have such testing performed it will be considered hazardous and illegal to sell.
Big changes for the thift store and used clothing industry.
When I visited the local Goodwill the employee at the register had no knowledge of this Act or the ramifications for her store. While corporate is probably well aware the trickle down might take some time.
Many reporters have come to the conclusion that consignment and second hand shops will stop accepting children’s clothing immediately and focus on pushing out existing inventory before the Act takes effect in February. At that time any unsold clothing will be relegated to the dump where the possibly lead laden clothing will be harmless.
Short term this will help the savvy shopper who has cash on hand and can swoop in to pick up loads of children’s clothing at a steep discount. Long term this Act may do more harm than good.
I’m well aware it’s a “hot button” topic as children’s safety is a concern and lead and phthalate clothing can be dangerous. I’m not in favor of creating laws that put poor families at risk however I’m also not in favor of removing what is often the only option for low income families when it comes to clothing their children.
At a time when the economy is struggling to regain its foothold, putting thousands of second hand clothing stores for children out of business seems foolish. Not only will more people be out of work having lost the ability to sell their product to the public but more families are coming to rely on low cost clothing and will have nowhere to turn.