- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 27, 2015

GREENWOOD, Ind. (AP) - Amid random pairs of pumps, heels and other styles, a treasure was buried.

Shelaine Holman patiently sorted through the racks and tables of an Indianapolis resale store when her heartbeat quickened. Lost in the pile were a pair of designer Franco Sarto shoes, which sell for $80 or more in stores.

This pair cost just $1.

“I was completely ecstatic. I didn’t let them out of my hands the rest of the day,” Holman told the Daily Journal (https://bit.ly/1ENrbkQ ).

The thrill of the chase - and the chance at a once-in-a-lifetime bargain - drives an increasing number of shoppers into the resale, consignment and thrift markets. Resale shopping has grown into a $13 billion per year business across the nation.

Where in the past shopping for used dresses, pants, shirts and other items might have caused embarrassment, an emerging crowd of value hunters are taking pride in the finding the hottest looks for the least amount of money.

“People are proud now to say, ‘Look at how much I saved,’ instead of the old perception that they had to shop here because they couldn’t afford it,” said Vena Holden, owner of Selective Seconds, a resale store in the Center Grove area. “People are smarter nowadays.”

Resale stores saw growth of 7 percent in 2013 and in 2014, according to the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops. Close to 25,000 resale and thrift stores operate in the U.S.

Annually, 14 percent of people shop resale or consignment stores. That number has gone up during the past decade as the economic downturn and slow recovery made saving money the trendy thing to do.

Dianna Good describes herself as a fairly regular resale shopper. The Franklin resident visits shops throughout Johnson County and in Indianapolis, visiting stores such as CJs Consignment in Franklin and Selective Seconds to poke around any newly arrived goods.

The fact the clothing is less expensive than new, while still in good shape, is the sensible reason she shops resale.

But her true passion is the potential finds that she hopes are out there.

“It’s that exhilaration of finding that diamond in the rough,” Good said.

Most of the time, she doesn’t have a particular item or plan when she heads into a shop. She takes her time, careful to search through each rack for any deals hiding behind other clothing.

“Sometimes I’ll have something special, but most of the time, I’m just looking around,” Good said.

For owners of resale stores, the key is to keep stock fresh and always different.

Selective Seconds workers put about 1,000 items out each week for people to peruse, Holden said. Seasonal clothing is rotated out on a schedule, so that winter and fall goods aren’t taking up space as warmer weather approaches.

The store keeps its inventory up by offering potential customers both consignment, where people are paid after their items sells, as well as buyout, in which the store pays cash up front to buy the item of clothing.

“We look at things, we inspect things, we’re very particular on things we take. It has to be in current styles and clean, and what our customers want,” Holden said.

Supply hasn’t been an issue either, Holden said. People are continually cleaning out their closets, finding what doesn’t fit them or their style anymore and looking to make a few dollars off of it.

“More people are looking to get rid of their things than looking to buy used, so it’s not a big problem,” she said.

Holden started Selective Seconds in 1997. Previously, she worked at a law firm and had to dress professionally. She was a longtime resale shopper, and a friend offered some space for her to open her own store.

She realized there was a need for neat, high-quality professional clothing that could be purchased at a reasonable price.

“People were ready for it,” she said.

After two years, Holden quit her job at the law firm to operate her store full time. She opened her Center Grove area store in 2003 and now has more than 5,000 square feet of store space.

But it’s not just her own store that Holden uses to promote resale. She organizes weekend bus tours to Indianapolis, Chicago, Louisville and other cities to introduce buyers to new markets. The most recent trip, to Nashville, Tennessee, drew 40 shoppers.

Strange as it might seem to take customers to other businesses, Holden said she sees it as a way to strengthen the resale concept as a whole.

“The challenge is to grow the number of resale shoppers. If I can help other resale shops do well, that helps me do well,” Holden said. “We want to get more people to try it.”

Holman has taken advantage of a number of the resale trips offered through the store, including the November visit to Nashville.

She has been shopping at resale stores for close to 10 years. She often goes resale shopping with her mother and sister. They use it as a chance to bond, as well as take advantage of two more sets of eyes to scope the best bargains.

“It’s whatever strikes me,” she said. “I’ll walk into a store, and I look for whatever jumps out to me.”


Information from: Daily Journal, https://www.dailyjournal.net

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