August 9, 2016


My Clothes Aren’t Consignment Worthy?

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

What’s a person to do with the unworn clothes smothering the air right out of the closet? It’s a common dilemma, or so I hear. Tossing them is out of the question, as landfills are always a last resort for me. If it can be handed down, sold, donated or refurbished into a tee-shirt quilt by my daughter, I’m all for it. Clear that closet. But I refuse to thoughtlessly toss usable items into the trash.


Recently, I recruited that same daughter to help me weed out some unnecessary apparel. She was firm but kind. Together we purged dozens of items from my overstuffed closet. Even after purging, the racks and shelves look plenty full and will need further clearing soon. But at least my clothes can breathe again.


As I tried on every single piece of clothing, my daughter rehung, or folded the clothes and separated them into bins for donation or consignment. I’m ashamed to admit several tops had tags still adorning their sleeves. Loading three laundry baskets and lugging them to the van, I envisioned making a few bucks off many of those tops and bottoms, so off I went.


The first consignment store’s young clerks took my baskets with what looked like genuine grins, suggesting I might look around the store while waiting for their decision. Perusing the store, I noticed several items showing obvious wear and a most unattractive green leatherette vest that was cracked around all the seams. I might leave with enough money for a nice family dinner out. Oh yeah. My stuff is much better than this, I thought.


Receiving a text from the girl across the room announcing, “Inspection complete,” I went to the desk expecting to retrieve my mostly empty laundry baskets and a “nice little piece of money”, as my mother would say.


Instead, I heard, “Thanks so much for coming in. Unfortunately, we have plenty of these types of clothes, but please continue shopping and come back again. You might also try the consignment place across the parking lot.”


After closing my mouth, and stumbling out the door hauling the rejected wardrobe to my car, I drove across the parking lot to consignment store number two. I’ll admit my clothes are not expensive name brands and are often great deals purchased impulsively from Kohl’s at thirty percent off of thirty percent off. But I’m slightly offended that the teenaged clerks deemed my perfectly fine clothes not consignment-worthy. Even those items with store tags still hanging on their sleeves.


Leaving my loot in the car, I went into the other place. The nice gentleman there said, “We only look at clothes less than two years old, on hangers, and they cannot be from Gap, Old Navy, Kohl’s, or Banana Republic.”


I thanked him and headed for my van. Choosing to ignore the hanger rule, I retrieved a couple of neatly folded Talbot’s, and J Jill tops and took them back into the store to see if they were acceptable.


“The Talbot’s lettering must be black, not red or white and everything must be on hangers. But it looks like a couple of your things might do,” the nice man said.


I thanked him again, strolled back to my hot car, and drove my three full baskets home. He didn’t need my “couple of things”. Consignment rules galore meant my impulsive shopping choices from over two years ago were pretty much worthless.


It was back to donating for me. After researching many options, I chose a fairly new charity, Zab’s place, in downtown Matthews, NC. A well-organized thrift store, Zab’s hires young adults with special needs, and provides them with vocational rehab and job coaching. After donating my clothes, I enjoyed shopping there and checking out with a smiling young man who was learning to wrap and bag.


Satisfied for Zab’s Place to sell my clothing, I noticed that among their variety of goods was a greeting cards section. I remembered a stash of cards tucked behind empty technology boxes cluttering my office cabinets. Too hot to work in the closet trying on more things I forgot I owned, I decided to tackle those cabinets. Those empty laundry baskets sure came in handy.

14 thoughts on “My Clothes Aren’t Consignment Worthy?

  1. Going through the closet to weed out clothes is exhausting, isn’t it? Like you, I’ve got items with the tags still on. Thanks for the heads up on Zabs, Lisa.I normally donate once a month to the Disabled Veterans or the Kidney Foundation, but I’m all for supporting a local charity.

    • Hey Jill. I sometimes use Matthews Help Center also. I pulled out a huge bin of technology boxes and odds and ends of cameras, phones, cords, and such from the cabinets. I could write about clutter until I’m called on to glory, or so it seems. Yea Zabs is a great idea and a cute shop.

  2. Great job. I find that consignment shops are rather particular but I love that you found a charity to donate to. I donate a lot to suited for success. They help women reentering the work force. No matter where you donate just know you are doing something wonderful. For the charity and more importantly for you. You removed the clutter from your closet. Way to go!!

  3. A big purge! So good for the soul…and the clothes. I love the idea of them having breathing space in your closet! Consignment is so dicey. The charity you picked will be so thrilled with your lovely things!

  4. Way to go, Lisa, and just look at that “after” shot of your closet! I’ve never tried consignment shops ~ I figure they wouldn’t want my stuff. I often donate to a local charity that appreciates the donations and helps out low-income folks.

  5. Those consignment places know how to keep their inventory in check, even if we don’t.

  6. Dear Lisa, My sentiments exactly. I’ve received suggestions to bring my clothes to a vintage shop.Doesn’t matter if the shoes and gloves are leather, or if the suit’s are pure wool, or the knitted things are hand made. And then you look at the garbage that they get ffrom today’s stores, and prices. Want to thank you for stopping at my blog.

  7. Thank you. I agree.

  8. I regularly purge my closets. Something rings true for me, that if I haven’t worn it in five years, I probably won’t … and somebody else can find a use for it. Consequently, it winds up at Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or Catholic Charities. I used to think I, too, could make a few bucks by selling stuff like this at a yard sale. What a joke! Why should people buy my used stuff when they can go down to Wal-Mart and buy new things for cheaper than I think my old things are worth?!! But, hey, cleaner closets is a worthy goal in itself!

  9. Ah…the humiliation to have your goods inspected and to be found…pedestrian. I feel your pain.

    • I just looked at your lovely photos and “followed” you. Funny thing is, my husband and I are in Indiana visiting relatives and have one more stop in Lima, Ohio with an uncle. We are planning to drive up into Michigan and look around. If you read this and wish to give a little advise, it would certainly be welcome. Michigan is a big state to only peek at but alas, we don’t have much time before needing to be back in NC to celebrate Labor Day with family. So, we’re thinking of going on the east side straight up through Ann Arbor toward Sault Ste Marie. Advise? I know you enjoy the west side. Maybe we’ll come back down that way unless we drive into Canada and move east before going south.

  10. Quite a few years ago when I was leaving the eastern side of the state to move out this way, I called the Salvation Army to look at some of the furniture I didn’t want to take along, thinking surely someone could use it. It was in varying conditions, but some was quite nice. Much to my surprise, like the nice man you described, I found the Salvation Army had apparently become newly upscale in what they were willing to accept and sell, and only one item met their now-elevated standards.
    p.s. I put one item per night on the street with a “FREE” sign and it all disappeared.

  11. I’ve been a consignment store reject before. It’s daunting.

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