Bargain Hunting
By Paulette Cooper Noble / March 2012

Once upon a time, resale shopping for family clothes and furniture was looked down upon as a desperate move for the financially strapped. If a woman went to a thrift shop, she might be called a second-hand Rose. If you tried to get a teen to buy anything but brand new (and, alas, expensive) clothes, they were likely to say "Ugh, gross!"

No more. Teens and their parents are flocking to consignment and thrift shops. More and more are opening in this region. Families even go on "thrifting" expeditions to nearby areas, hunting for the best bargains. You've heard the expression "the pursuit of happiness?" Today's families have discovered the happiness of pursuit.

Bargain shoppers are joyfully learning that consignment shops carry new and practically new clothes at a fraction of what they would cost in a regular retail store. Most of the clothes in them are new or nearly new.

Children are discovering that resale shops aren't only for their parents. Stores like Plato's Closet -- with two franchises in Broward County -- carry younger, gently used, cool brands with high credibility, like Aeropostal and Baby Phat. They are also stocked with items that parents might not wear, like feathered accessories, casual denims, and bright pants for the teen boy.
Another popular trend with today's teens is vintage, loosely defined as older clothes in good condition. Tracy Young, owner of the popular Nannie's Vintage in Coral Springs, says, "Much of our clientele is younger people buying vintage clothes for their unique look, not older people buying pieces for nostalgia."

Boca Raton has several shops around Federal Highway, forming a sort of consignment heaven, where better clothes and accessories are a quarter of the price found at a department store or boutique. For the higher end adult shopper, it's worth making a special trip to Gigi's Attic, Razamataz, and Encore Plus. If children are in mind, visit Show & Tell Consignments and Will and Emma's Closet. They are stocked with like-new clothes, toys and furniture for the younger set.

People looking to spend less money might do better in Deerfield Beach, considered a bargain shopper's paradise. Check out the Goodwill Superstore on Federal Highway. The whole family can be outfitted inexpensively in a nearby area called the Cove, which has four thrift shops.

The city is also home to a children's consignment clothes and toy shop (Playfully Panache) and a women's garments and accessory shop (The Secret Garden). Those who like to buy gifts, home decor, furniture, and better costume jewelry come here as well. They visit the largest consignment shop in South Florida, A Consignment Gallery. Nearby on East Hillsboro Boulevard is A Summer Place, housed in one of the oldest buildings in Deerfield Beach.

Consignment, thrift and vintage shops contain a world of wonders. To maximize a shopping expedition, take these tips to heart:

--You get better clothes at consignment shops but better buys at thrift shops. (The difference is that people donate to thrifts but try to sell their merchandise at consignment shops.)
--Thrift shops have the best merchandise and prices early in the week and early in the morning. Consignment shops are best at the very beginning and end of the month.
--Know your spouse's and your children's measurements. Carry a tape measure with you. Many garments are priced low because they are mis-marked size-wise, or don't have a size in them at all.
--Wear clothes that come off easily so that you can try on other things.
--If you need a gift for a child, visit a children's consignment shop, where a lot of the clothes even have tags on them.
Paulette Cooper Noble is the author of "Bargain Shopping in Fort Lauderdale, Broward and South Palm Beach Counties: 100+ Consignment & Thrift Shops" from Polo Publishing.

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