High-End Consignment Shopping: Two Warnings

With the economy in the doldrums, many people are getting their luxury fix by shopping at high end consignment stores.

These stores specialize in luxury goods and brands. It’s possible to pick up Prada, Tiffany, Gucci, and other high end brands for a fraction of what they would cost new. Many items have been used only a little and some not at all. It can be a great way to satisfy your longing for something luxurious without forking over the full retail price. However, before you go running off to score great deals, there are two things you need to be careful of.

Don’t pay new prices for used goods: Many consignment stores don’t price their items that far below retail. Some actually price them above what they would cost new in a department store. Some less scrupulous shops act on the theory that people will just assume that since it’s a consignment shop the prices must be lower than retail and will pay whatever’s asked. It’s up to you to do the research to ensure that you’re getting a good deal. Even if the item was only worn once, it’s still used and you shouldn’t pay full retail price. It will also help to know if the item is current or discontinued. Unless it’s collectible, an out-of-date, discontinued item should sell for less than current season items.

Watch out for fakes: Most consignment stores are run by honest people who don’t intentionally sell fake merchandise. Some may even guarantee that their items are the real deal. However, it’s still up to you to make certain that you are getting a real item and not a fake. Before you hit the store, learn how to tell if something is real. Almost all luxury manufacturers include some small detail that marks their item as real. It may be the way the logo is shaped or presented, a small makers mark placed somewhere, or a certain way of attaching hardware to an item that marks it as real. There are also the materials. Leather versus vinyl, or silk versus nylon, for example. You can find out how to tell real items from fakes on the Internet. You can also ask the retailer to provide proof of authenticity. Some retailers will have their items vetted by experts before placing them for sale and you can ask to see those reports.

The reason that this is so important is that many stores have an “All Sales Are Final” policy. You don’t want to buy something only to get home and discover it’s a fake. Sometimes even honest stores make mistakes and accept fake merchandise. They may not even know it. If you try to return an item you’ve discovered is fake, you’ll likely run into a retailer that won’t take it back because how are they to know that you didn’t buy a real item at their store and then try to return an old fake to them? This is a common scam and many consignment stores no longer accept returns for just this reason. Even stores that, “guarantee” authentic items may not take it back because of this scam. Know what you’re buying before you pay for it. If you have any doubt about its authenticity, leave it at the store and go home and do some more research.

If you’re not comfortable with the prices or merchandise at your local consignment store, you can still get lower prices on your favorite brands by shopping the manufacturers’ outlet stores. Some outlets sell overruns or outdated items which are just like the ones sold in stores. Others sell “outlet only” items which may be slightly lesser quality than those sold in the regular stores, but are still genuine name brand items. If you are more comfortable dealing directly with the manufacturer, this can be another good way to save money.

Consignment shopping can be a great way to cut the cost of buying luxury goods. Just beware of fakes and prices that are out of line. If you do those two things, you should be able to do quite well.

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One Response to High-End Consignment Shopping: Two Warnings

  1. C.A. Burns says:

    I’ve also found going to Salvation Army or Goodwill stores in a pricey neighborhood, you can ALSO find good deals on clothes, as the people living in those towns/cities give their items to these stores. And in return, YOU get the bargains!

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