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Been There, Swapped That

by Kristy Stevenson

It seems that money is tight for everyone these days, especially when trends – or growth spurts – prompt wardrobe changes for your children and teens. Or perhaps you’re starting a new job or lost weight and need to update your own look. Maybe you just need something snazzy to wear to all those holiday parties but your budget is stretched by all the gift buying.

Those looking for bargains right now are in luck as stylish and gently loved items are increasingly easy to find in Fayetteville.

Featuring high quality goods at often drastically reduced prices, today’s resale and consignment marketplace is blossoming thanks to value-conscious consumers. Shoppers love a bargain, and as disposable income is harder to come by, the public is keenly aware that resale shopping means higher quality for less money.

It’s become a multi-billion dollar industry that’s growing 5 to 10 percent a year according to the National Association of Resale & Thrift Shops (NARTS). As one of the fastest growing segments of retail, more than 25,000 resale, consignment and thrift shops across the United States, plus mammoth online markets like eBay and Craigslist, have made the idea of resale even more conventional. And, of course, there are those who just enjoy the thrill of the hunt.

Assessed at over $200 billion, the children’s market, alone, has been called bigger than fast food. Second-hand outlets like Lily Kat’s, Once Upon a Child, Plato’s Closet, High Cotton Consignment, Sacks Consigned Designs, and more, have cropped up all over the Fayetteville area making available items such as high-end and everyday clothing, shoes, home goods, toys, homeschooling materials, baby equipment and furniture.

Consumers who buy used items say these outlets are a great way to not only get rid of items they no longer need, but to find new treasures at a competitive price. As children grow (and outgrow) quickly, parents will often sell items in the hopes to making enough to cover what they intend to buy. Business women know they can keep their work attire fashionable and affordable by buying trends second-hand. The good news for consignors is that styles change constantly. Take inventory of what you may have to sell, and watch the sales floor of your favorite shop as new merchandise rolls in. Or call ahead and ask about a store’s most wanted items.

According to the Association of Resale Professionals, “Resale shopping attracts consumers from all economic levels. There is no typical resale shopper, just as there is no typical resale shop. No one is immune to the excitement of finding a treasure and saving money.”

Allison Newton of High Cotton Consignment says her ideal customers are ‘frugalistas’ who appreciate quality apparel and home goods at a discounted price. “We all have things of value that we have either outgrown, changed our style, or are looking to sell to supplement our income,” she said. With nearly 1200 consignors, Newton says it’s imperative that her business gain trust among clients (both buyers and sellers), appreciate the value of their items, and price them accordingly.

Have kids to clothe and don’t want to pay retail? Consider consignment sales that draw huge crowds and allow you to earn up to 70 to 75 percent of what you sell. “Many moms have gone from buying consigned items as the norm rather than the exception,” said Boyd and Lori Dellinger, who operate the gigantic Hugs and Kisses Consignment Sale that takes place twice a year. They say you can find just about any brand of clothing, toys, kid furniture or baby equipment inside these gatherings, and shopping early increases your selection.

Cassi and Matt Bergevin of the consignment sale Kids Exchange said, “Kids grow fast, and their clothes and shoes get little to no wear which makes them perfect for consignment.”


Used items can be sold from retail storefronts which are either 'resale' or 'consignment' in nature.

Resale shops offer cash on the spot for anything purchased by the store. They buy items that are clean, in style, and in great condition.

“Maybe you have changed jobs, changed sizes, or changed your mind,” said Karese Faircloth, who owns Fayetteville’s Once Upon A Child and Plato’s Closet. “If you’re not wearing it, get cash for it!” If you’re a shopper, friends won’t know where your look came from, but they will notice your new style. Easy on the eyes — and the pocketbook.

Recycle without worry: all resale toys and children’s products are inspected to be sure they meet current safety standards and have not been recalled.

With consignment shops, the seller retains ownership of items over a period of time and is paid after a sale is made. The seller is also responsible for leftover items.

At consignment sales, consumers gather at seasonal intervals to buy and sell outgrown items. Without a permanent venue, most migrate to rented spaces in high traffic areas, publicizing their sale before each event. Every seller, shopper and volunteer brings value to the process. Repeat customers are almost guaranteed as anything you buy this season can be resold next time.

“Our goal is to provide a way for families to generate some income by selling gently used children’s items and also provide a great shopping experience for the bargain hunter,” said the Bergevins.

Children’s events are family-friendly and frequented by parents and grandparents, alike, all looking to pay a fraction of department store prices. “Just register to consign, price and tag items, then drop them off on receiving day,” said Angela Lynch of Northwood Temple’s Twice as Nice consignment sale, which recently celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary. “We do all the rest.”


If you’re new to the concept, it’s recommended that you visit several stores or sales to find those that work for you. Clothing should be freshly laundered and pressed or dry- cleaned before being brought in for sale. The best sellers check the neck, cuffs, and hem; no stains or tears, no cooking or smoke odors. Handbags and shoes should be cleaned on the inside and out, and remember to bag all accessories. Prep work is to your benefit as the sooner your items are put out on the sales floor, the quicker you’ll get paid.

Faircloth, of Once Upon A Child and Plato’s Closet, said name brands are desirable, but a clean no-name brand in top condition has greater value than an older brand name showing signs of wear and tear.

Store owners have a lot of resellers to keep track of, so having your merchandise sorted and labeled correctly benefits your bottom line. A little elbow grease goes a long way — one merchant even likened it to staging your home for a real estate transaction. When selling, just remember to look for the same quality you would expect in a purchase.

To get the best price for your items, High Cotton’s Newton recommends pressing couture pieces and polishing your sterling silver. And if an item needs batteries, Twice As Nice’s Lynch says it’s 10 times more likely to sell if you include them to show how it works.

Bi-annual sales post their drop-off windows and require you to price your own merchandise. Tag according to trends and the current market — one third of the new retail value is a good rule of thumb, depending upon condition.

Store appointments are often required and price points are usually set by the store, although there are exceptions. Please ask upfront exactly what kind of merchandise is accepted, what is expected of you as a seller, how long your items may be on the sales floor before they are marked down, and what happens if items don’t sell. A good reseller will walk you through the process and make every effort to move your merchandise so you will work with them again.

Bear in mind that by joining the consignment revolution you are re-purposing a number of assets. As a buyer, local purchases leave less of a carbon footprint on the planet and put more money back into your immediate community. And as a seller, you’ll learn that consigned items that do not sell are often donated to worthwhile charities and non-profit organizations. That kind of deal is enough to put a smile on any shopper’s face.


Is your home filled with the unworn and unwanted? Visit these area key players to learn more about programs for buying and selling:

Fayetteville Consignment

  • High Cotton Consignment for women – highcottonconsignment.com Taking a green approach to shopping by specializing in previously experienced merchandise from brands like Chanel, Gap, Pier One, and Pottery Barn. Online shopping available. Deals include a Louis Vuitton Ponchette Milla MM clutch in mint condition, $410; Coach purse in mint condition, $88; and an upholstered sofa in excellent condition, $338.
  • Hugs & Kisses Consignment Sale for kids – hugsandkissesconsignment.com A seasonal children’s event (twice yearly) with the highest payout in the Sandhills. Offering many brands of gently used clothing, toys, kids furniture and baby equipment. Many name brands, especially in the Junior section. Plus indoor drop off, online tracking, and shop early opportunities for volunteers.
  • Kids Exchange Fayetteville for kids – kidsexchange.net/fayettevillenc The new kid on the block, this is seasonal children’s sale (twice yearly) where parents provide for each other’s needs. As part of a chain, they offer shop early opportunities plus an online Seller University which shows you how to get the most out of your experience. Examples of deals include furniture marked 20% below retail; glider rockers, $50; and pack and plays, $20.
  • Northwood Temple MOPS Twice is Nice Children’s Consignment Sale for kids – www.northwoodmops.com The longest running children’s sale (twice yearly) in the area, they specialize in clothing, toys, baby gear, furniture and décor, media, maternity and boutique overstocks. Brands consist of Gap, Hannah Anderson, Old Navy, Gymboree, Dolce Mia, Remember Nguyen, and Frances Elizabeth Originals. Volunteers shop early. Deals include a Phil & Teds sport double stroller, $50; complete summer wardrobe for two including shoes, $100.
  • Fayetteville Resale - Clothes Mentor for women – Coming soon – To be notified of the grand opening, email kareseouac@yahoo.com - Selection, value, convenience and customer service. The store will offer two seasonal clearances + random promotions on brands like Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, and Talbots. Automated online buying process available. Deals include Coach handbags for approximately one third of retail; and a customer loyalty program that could save buyers an additional 20 percent.
  • Once Upon A Child for kids – onceuponachildfayetteville.com - Paying cash for gently used and/or new children’s items such as clothing, toys and equipment. The store both buys and sells, and its mission is to provide your family a fun and friendly environment to shop for all your children’s needs. Brands include Arizona, Chico, Gap, Justice, Old Navy, Stride Rite and Tommy Hilfiger. No appointment necessary.
  • Plato’s Closet for teens and twenty-somethings – platosclosetfayettevillenc.com - Buys and sells the latest looks in brand name gently used clothing, shoes and f0accessories for both guys and girls. Paying cash for all seasons of clothes 12-18 months old. Great selection of shoes. No appointment necessary. Find brands like American Eagle, Forever 21, Express, Aeropostale, Lucky and Abercrombie & Fitch. Deals include up to 70% off mall prices.