Many Americans will be heading to consignment shops and thrift stores this holiday season, thanks to an economic downturn, shop owners believe.
“They’re learning what my regular customers already know — you can find quality items at a much-reduced cost,” said Sherry Gravitt, owner of Encore Consignment Boutique in Riverview.
Ms. Gravitt said she has seen an increase in clientele in recent years.
“Most of my customers and consigners are talking about their dwindling 401(k)s, their escalating health care and insurance costs, the high price of gas, groceries, utilities, etc.,” she said. “These are the same consumers who rode the yuppie wave in the ’80s of more, more and more.”
Today, less is more, she said. “They now want to minimize.”
Women who favor designer labels are also trimming their budgets, Ms. Gravitt said. “They want better quality, but fewer pieces, at the best price,” she said. “They seem to be shopping smarter.”
Buffalo Exchange, a Tucson, Ariz.-based chain of secondhand stores, told CNNMoney.com that secondhand stores do better in hard times. The company reported an 11 percent increase in revenue in 2007 and a 16 percent increase in the first half of 2008.
Rochelle Bolton, owner of Glam Slam, an upscale consignment shop on Frazier Avenue, said an increase in business is causing her to relocate to a building on Hixson Pike that’s three times larger than the current location.
“We have not seen a lot of holiday shopping yet, but we do hear our customers talking about it,” she said. “We’re getting a huge increase in apparel, not only in quantity and quality, but I’m seeing higher-end merchandise with tags still on them.”
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 ...