Consignment Stores: A New Destination for Designer Fashions
The number of consignment stores in the county are growing as consumers, including fashion divas, realize they are the place to snap up designer bags, shoes and other items.
As a college student on a tight budget, Briana Printy discovered the way to stretching her clothing budget was to shop in consignment stores where the racks were filled with the designer labels she craved.
Inspired by the items she found and the shoppers she met, Printy, a Crofton native, opened her own store called Eye of the Beholder on Maryland Route 3 two months ago.
“Consignment shops are a great alternative to big box stores and department stores,” she said. “Stores like mine are where people can find lightly-used but high-quality designer items at good prices."
While local business officials do not keep figures on the number of consignment shops that have opened in the county, the number of resale stores opening nationally in the past two years has grown 7 percent, according to figures kept by the National Association of Resale Professionals, an educational, networking and advocacy group based in the Detroit metro area.
Bob Burdon, president and CEO of the Annapolis/Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce, said there does seem to be an “uptick” in the number of these types of shops opening in the county. In west county, Printy’s shop in the V.V. Shopping Center just north of Davidsonville Road—along with Oasis on Piney Orchard Parkway—opened in March. Several others have opened in recent years in small strip shopping centers along Ritchie Highway in the Severna Park area.
Business is brisk, said Printy. The shop has dressing rooms, neat racks of skirts, dress pants, jeans and tops along and a fine selection of designer bags, shoes and jewelry. More than 100 customers have consigned items to her shop.
“I am going to start taking furniture now,” she said. “I am looking for small accent pieces that are cute and trendy.”
The growth in consignment shops is a measure of how the value of the dollar has changed since the recession, Burdon said.
“People recognize that what they have in their home is of value,” he said. “Twenty years ago, people had garage sales when they wanted to get rid of stuff, but these days there is no need to set everything up on your lawn or driveway to make money.”
Claire Louder, president and CEO of the West County Chamber of Commerce, agreed. “People are downsizing and looking for ways to cut corners,” she said. “Much of the merchandise in these stores is hardly used and some of it is even new with the price tags still hanging on them.”
Burdon said the negative stigma attached to shopping at consignment or resale stores has disappeared over the years as consumers became more comfortable with buying quality used items on websites such as eBay.
“Consumers have realized that everything they buy does not have to be new,” he said.
Consignment shop owners are quick to point out that their stores are not thrift shops run by nonprofit organizations that typically are not as selective about the merchandise sold in their stores and do not share in the profits of the sales as consignment shops do. Items in consignment shops must pass the store owner’s inspection including being cleaned, pressed and having no broken zippers or missing buttons.
Printy, whose shop carries all sizes, as well as maternity clothes, cited another reason for the popularity of consignment shops.
“Reusing and recycling is good for the environment and the economy,” she said. “Anything I don’t sell I donate to charities. I run a family-friendly business and I want to give back to the community I grew up in.”