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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Have a Gently Used Christmas: Shop Resale and Consignment to Help Santa and the Planet

Dec 06, 2010 10:59PM ● By Lee Walker

How can fashionistas assuage their green conscience, quench their appetite for luxury labels, dress stylishly, help lower the planet’s carbon footprint and save money while Christmas shopping, all in one fell swoop? The answer: consignment and resale shops, where anyone who feels unsettled by the nation’s economy and soaring prices of clothing, accessories, furniture and toys, can shop smart without putting a big dent in the checking account or adding too much to the credit card bill.

This year’s Trashion-ista Fashion Show, a headline event at the 10/10/10 Eco Extravaganza at The Mercato, successfully demonstrated the beauty and benefits of resale chic. The show not only wowed an audience of style-conscious women with the economic benefits and fashion potential of shopping for gently used clothing and accessories, it also awakened them to the art of environmentally correct shopping.

Susan Swanson, one of the women who modeled the gently worn fashions for ladies lunching at Bravo! Cucina, didn’t need to be introduced to consignment clothing. The co-owner of Aldecor, a custom framing shop in Naples, was already an avid resale shopper. “My resale roots go way back to my days of Saturday morning garage sales in Ohio, where I bought most of my children’s clothing and toys,” reflects Swanson.

Excited to find an abundance of resale shops in Naples, Swanson continued her preference for bargains after relocating here more than five years ago. When asked to model in the show, she knew she wanted to partner up with her favorite resale shop, New to You, who fitted her from head-to-toe with two beautifully accessorized outfits, complete with a pricey Coach handbag. Swanson enthuses, “I bought the more causal one, because it was in my favorite colors of navy and white, looked great on me, and cost me less than half the retail price. But more importantly, I believe it is the right thing to reuse whenever possible.”

Gerry Nichols, owner of New to You, also recalls the days of outfitting herself and her children at the nation’s first resale store, in Minneapolis. “I loved going there, not necessarily because of the prices, but for the thrill of the hunt, which I think is one of the reasons that most women enjoy shopping at our store,” advises Nichols, who enjoys seeing smiles on the faces of women who are excited to find unexpected treasures.

In Minneapolis, Nichols was an executive receptionist for the Target corporation. She met people from all walks of life—governors, presidents of companies and celebrities—who always complimented her on what she was wearing. “I just smiled, because everything came from a resale or thrift shop or a garage sale,” says Nichols, who notes that New to You regulars are known to her by name and the store is more than just a place to shop. “We all feel good when we brighten the day of someone who just comes to browse and find respite because they have problems in their life and need a place to escape for an hour or so.”

Suzanne Savage, another Trashion-ista model, likes to hunt for resale treasures at Options Thrift Shoppe, owned and operated by The Shelter for Abused Women & Children. What she appreciates most is being free of any fashion industry designer or buyer’s notion of what she should be wearing for any particular season. “Shopping here allows me more creativity and freedom of expression, and I get to match items from eras and across price points, which retail buyers can’t do,” says the Middle East consultant.

Savage also considers resale items relatively risk-free because of their low cost. “I can step out of my comfort zone and experiment with styles and colors for $5, instead of $100,” explains Savage, who adds that it’s fairly stress-free to decide she doesn’t like a $5 item, because she can give it back to the store or donate it elsewhere.

Another reason Savage prefers resale fashion is that she is unlikely to see someone else wearing the same piece. She confirms Nichols’ observation that resale shopping can be one of a woman’s favorite adventures. “You never know what you might find,” enthuses Savage. “When I come across some really irresistible, fantastic piece, it turns my thoughts to questions about the person who was willing to part with it: Is their wardrobe so fantastic that they found something even better? Did their lifestyle change? Did their closet get too full? Did it end up at the resale store by mistake? Each piece in a retail store has its own history, and someone had a relationship with it. And for me, relationships are what make life interesting.”

As early as 1998, a Washington Post headline touted, “Now It’s Cool to Shop Consignment Stores for Christmas.” The article went on to note that consignment or resale stores had become so commonplace—and, in many instances, upscale—that shoppers had begun to accept the idea of buying secondhand items as gifts.

Why not give yourself, others and the planet a win/win gift this Christmas, one that keeps on giving with a bit of intrigue and adventure, new relationships (it’s fun to go where everybody knows your name), and a little more money in your pocket?

New to You, 933 Creech Rd., Naples. Call 239-262-6869.

Options Thrift Shoppe, 968 2nd Ave. N., Naples. Call 239-434-7715.

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