Get rid of clothes the right way: Consign

  • Article by: SALLY MCGRAW , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 23, 2013 - 4:16 PM

Designer clothes and shoes at Clothes Mentor in Edina.

Photo: GLEN STUBBE • Star Tribune file ,

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Wardrobe mistakes are inevitable. Nearly every closet contains at least a few pieces of clothing that are too small or too big, seemed like great bargains when you bought them, or were ill-fitting gifts from well-meaning friends. You can easily donate the things you don’t wear to charity, but sometimes you’d rather try to recoup your losses.

Enter consignment stores.

The Twin Cities area has a thriving consignment business with dozens of shops, some that specialize in designer clothing, others in vintage. However, many of them are choosy about what they take. So how do you decide which pieces to try to consign? Ask yourself these questions:

Is it a recognizable brand name?

Most consignment stores prefer well-known brands and labels, in part because those tend to sell more quickly.If you’ve got a gorgeous sweater that was made by a brand that no longer exists, or even a high-quality foreign brand that most shoppers in your area wouldn’t recognize, it’s simply less likely to sell. Mall brands (such as Ann Taylor, Gap, J. Jill) are always good bets, as are any designer items you’re prepared to part with.

Is it in good shape?

Consignment items needn’t be 100 percent flawless, but they must be free of rips, stains, damaged hardware or zippers, or anything that makes them unwearable. If you have something in such poor shape that you can’t even donate it, consider repurposing it or even throwing it away.

Is it contemporary?

Some of the trendier, fashion-forward consignment shops (see list) will accept vintage items, but many want only contemporary clothes and accessories. And no shop wants clothes that are woefully out of date. Most Twin Cities shops prefer clothes made within the past three to five years.

Ready for the rack

Once you’ve determined you want to consign some brand-name pieces, you’ve got to persuade the store to accept them. Be sure your clothes are:

Clean: Consignment store employees will give your items the sniff test. Offer only washed or dry-cleaned items and make sure accessories and shoes are clean and without odors.

Pressed: Wrinkles are a total turnoff. Steam or iron every piece, including scarves. You want your stuff looking as new and fresh as possible.

Touch-up: Bust out the lint roller for any stubborn pet hairs. Invest $8 in a sweater shaver to get rid of pilling. Trim any stray threads, and make sure buttons and hardware are properly affixed.

Select your shop

Before you pack up the car, explore your options. Some shops will take your items, sell them, and pay you afterward. Some will evaluate your goods on the spot and hand over cash or credit immediately. The percentage of the sale price that you will receive can vary by shop, but don’t assume that larger or more well-known shops will give you the best deal. Sometimes smaller shops will pay more for pieces they know will appeal to their clientele.

Here are some of the local consignment stores and chains:

Turn Style (

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