Last Thursday, I bought barely-worn J.Crew jeans at Eliza’s & Weepeats Fine Consignment for $5 during work hours. Editor’s orders. (Ed. note: The orders were to go check out the shop, its inventory and its prices. No one was ordered to buy jeans in the making of this story.)
I pretended to complain about this assignment (Ed. note: True story), maybe to conceal the fact that shopping at noon on a weekday isn’t really work for me. Once I got back to the office, I hid the jeans far under my desk so my co-workers wouldn’t get jealous.
These jeans are awesome. They fit me just the right way, because that’s how J. Crew does it, and normally, they’re at least $60. It’s a sale you’re never going to see otherwise — not at the outlet sale rack and not during the store’s 50-percent off clearance sale.
Eliza & Weepeats owner Laurie Wilder wishes there were more young people (like me) who’d shop and even sell at consignment stores.
“They’re just throwing or giving away trash bags of old clothes, when really, they could be making money by selling their clothes here,” Wilder said in an interview at the shop on Elm Street in Manchester. “Lots of consignment stores are family-owned, and by shopping at them, you’re keeping money local and recycling.”
Truth be told, if I were 16 again, I’d do my prom completely differently. First, I’d buy the $15 slate grey, v-neck dress with glittering silver detail hanging in the back of the store. (Though there’d be stiff competition between that and the strapless, plum floor-length dress two racks down). I’d go for the shiny, like-new black pumps set in the middle of the store for $4.50 or the strappy silver sandals lined with gemstones for $9. For jewelry, it’d be the blue, silver and white beaded necklaces originally from Croft & Barrow, sold here for $12.50.
(Had I stayed longer, I probably would have purchased the bright, multi-colored beaded necklace next to it for $10, the hardly-worn black shorts from Ann Taylor for $4.50 or the Nine West black boots for $16.)
New To You, a Concord consignment store that sells high-end recycled fashion, is looking to draw these teenagers in with a program called Prom on a Budget happening March 20.
“Right now we’re in the peak of our prom season. … A limo company and a hair salon will be coming by that day, and people can book their limos and hair appointments at extreme discounts,” said New To You owner Nicole Vera in a phone interview.
The shop often sees between 50 and 100 new items a day, all of which are organized on the floor by size and color.
“We sell shoes, jewelry and prom dresses. ... Typically 200 in a prom season, and they’re really nice dresses at affordable prices,” Vera said.
Another plus to shopping thrifty: it’s never predictable, said Michell Talwani, Director of Economic Development and Marketing at Families in Transition.
“The beauty of a thrift store is that you never know what you’re going to find,” Talwani said in a phone interview.
The nonprofit houses two thrift stores in New Hampshire: OutFITters Thrift Store in Manchester and the OutFITters Thrift Store Boutique in downtown Concord, both of which collect donated items every day.
The Manchester storefront is organized like a department store: the front of the store contains women’s clothing; the middle, kids’ and men’s clothing; after that, cutlery and dishes; and at the back of the store is a variety of furniture. It’s all in decent condition and ridiculously priced — at a recent visit, there was a kitchen table in fine condition for $15 and at least a handful of printers priced between $4 and $8.
The Concord spot, Talwani said, has more of an upscale, boutique feel. It’s in an old Victorian home, right on Main Street, and each room is furnished or decorated with the items on sale. The nonprofit invited a representative from Talbots to help visually merchandise the store. Talwani says FIT is hoping to open another thrift store in Dover in the near future.
“A lot of people who have never come in before are surprised to see how nice it is inside,” Talwani said. “I think that, in some instances, there’s a bad rep of what you’re going to find in a thrift store.”
As seen in the February 13, 2014 issue of the Hippo.