A weak economy has many Americans rethinking their spending habits, especially when it comes to buying clothes, said Diana East, owner of Jenny’s Closet, a consignment shop at 5503 Highway 153.
From consignment and retail businesses to online shops and Facebook pages, today’s consumers are looking for bargains.
“I choose to attract lower-income clientele,” East said, explaining that she keeps the majority of her items priced below $5.
“I’ve got customers who have lost their jobs yet have to clothe their kids,” she said. “I want them to be able to afford clothing for the entire family.”
The resale industry is one of the few recession-proof segments of retailing, according to narts.com, the Association of Resale Professionals. “Not only does it survive during economic downturns, but it grows and thrives.”
Because East offers affordable prices, her consignors are pleased with the quick turnaround of merchandise, she said.
“You have to please the customer and the consignor,” she said. “So if you sell the merchandise, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.”
Even with her low prices, East said she sees that shopping habits have changed.
“Instead of buying two coats, some people are buying just one,” she said. “But they’re still buying, and I’m seeing that it’s getting better. My purpose is to help.”
The merchandise sold at Jenny’s Closet ranges from fashions sold at Target to name-brand clothing from larger department stores and specialty boutiques.
East said her customers represent all ages and all demographics.
“I see all walks of life here,” she said. “Everyone is looking for a bargain — even people who don’t necessarily need one. A good buy is interesting to most everyone.”
East also stocks new items, such as jewelry, at a discount.
“I’ve got jewelry from Italy that I sell for about $22,” she said. “I’ve got some jewelry that retails for around $50 that I sell for under $25. It’s a bargain.”
Chattanooga resident Amy Scott Wade said she bargain-shops from home buying secondhand children’s clothing on Facebook.
“I buy more high-end pieces from pages [on Facebook],” she said, noting that “Matilda Jane,” “Trendy Tot,” and “My Little Lollipop,” are pages where shoppers can buy anything from new to slightly used name-brand fashions for children.
“I also use Facebook to sell my kids’ clothes,” she said. “I charge less than I would sell them for at consignment sales since I don’t have to pay a commission to the sale, so my friends get a better deal, and I get more money in my pocket.”
Former Rossville resident Coni Haley, who now lives in Knoxville, said she loves consignment/resale shops.
“I usually go to see what I can find, but [thrift stores] are also great for eveningwear or event outfits,” Haley said. “I hate to pay a lot for something I will probably wear once.”
Haley said her daughter is also a fan of thrift stores.
“My daughter relies on kids resales and thrift stores for clothing for her children,” she said. “When you have to buy for that many people — six children — going to the mall is too expensive, and little people outgrow clothes very fast.
“Bargains are always fun; they are just more important in a bad economy,” she said.
Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...