My favorite way to recycle is by purchasing and selling clothes, purses, furniture, and household goods at consignment shops, thrift stores, flea markets, and yard sales. For as long as I can remember, I have taken delight in finding a perfectly-fitting frock or a cool velvet chair that once belonged to another, and buying it at a discounted price, rather than buying new items at a store.
At Rutgers my roommates and I took pride in furnishing most of our apartment in yard sale priced or free, given away furniture, and we had the coziest, best-looking apartment in all of New Brunswick, I’m sure.
Lounging in the living room. American flag scored at Ocean Grove flea market, little iron table at an estate sale, reclining chair given to us for free, plants obtained mysteriously by horticulture enthusiast roommates.
When I was a junior in high school and all the girls in my grade were nervous about potentially wearing the same dress to the prom, I was completely calm. I bought my lace cocktail dress at a consignment shop sidewalk sale for $15. I spotted it hanging on the rack outside, and thought it was beautiful and unique. By the grace of the thrift shop gods, it fit perfectly, no tailoring necessary. When I slipped it on and zipped up the back I felt like Jackie Kennedy (alright maybe a stretch.) I absolutely loved wearing that dress.
I loved that car too. RIP Cabrio. May 2009
I especially LOVE bringing clothes that I no longer wear to sell at Squan Dry Goods, in Manasquan, NJ and receiving a percentage of what they sell for. I could not be happier that their business has grown from a tiny, one room shop a few years ago to two multi-room stores, one in Manasquan and one in Point Pleasant with clothes, shoes, purses, and furniture. I have sold clothes there for years now and the profit has certainly kept my wallet from emptiness while I was in school and not working.
Being a consigner there is nearly effortless. Just fill a bag of gently worn, quality clothes, bring it to the store, and the girls there price them and put them on the floor for you. There is no fee to start, and consigners receive 50% of whatever an item sells for. I truly hope their business continues thriving. I can even see myself opening up a consignment shop like that someday.
My friend Janette sells her clothes online, on a site called vinted. I have not tried vinted because personally, I must try everything on and examine it very closely before buying, but Janette loves it. On vinted you upload a picture of the item to sell, price it yourself, and then other users can buy or swap with an items for theirs. Vinted only takes 20% of what an item sells for. Janette is working on opening up a new shop to sell mostly vintage clothes. She asked a few friends and I to model the clothes for her vinted pictures, and I am hoping my totally inexperienced, improvised modeling session helps her sell lots of clothes!
Check out Janette’s store Harmony Revolution.
Who’s that modeling such a rad romper?
I find something kind and human in the experience of buying previously owned goods from individuals or small businesses. There is a communal and friendly feeling that I prefer over the sterility of buying in a store. It also feels better to consume less, and to make mindful and conscious purchases. Mahatma Gandhi’s words on ecological justice come to mind, “the earth has enough for everyone’s needs but not for some people’s greed.” I would recommend using both sides of the consignment coin, buying and selling, to anyone looking to save money while maintaining an exciting wardrobe, and make a few extra dollars on the side, simply by cleaning out what is no longer worn or used.