Your Money: Bargain shopping has new look

RALEIGH Walk into Passage - one of Raleigh's newer, more fashionable consignment shops - and you'll see clothes, (many with designer labels, some still have tags on them) jewelry, unique house wares, rugs, books, CD’s even a 50 inch Samsung flat-screen TV.

This is what second hand looks like in 2009. Not only is the inside of the store updated, so is the inventory. There are also more customers, some of them, people who, in the past, would never shop a thrift store only sell to one.

John Cranford, co-owner of Passage, says those shoppers used to “ Keep their shades on, kind of wanted to be in and out of the shop as quickly as possible. Then, they slowly started to look around and thought, 'Oh my gosh.'”

A recent survey by the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops found that most shops had an increase in sales in the second quarter of this year. And even more stores have new customers.

“People are going to find they’re becoming more and more upscale,” explained fashion expert Suzanne Libfraind.

Still there are some who have a problem shopping at consignment and thrift stores.

Libfraind said she shopped for a client at a consignment shop. The client, who is unemployed, feared shopping at a resale store would hurt his image.

Libfraind was able to find him a great interview suit, shirt and tie for under $100. "These pieces here are $57," she said.

She also found a briefcase, belt and a pair of shoes to go with it. And for a more casual look, she found a Greg Norman shirt and a pair of slacks.

"Guess what?" Libfraind asked. "This whole outfit here is $17, which is just amazing."

But her favorite find still had the tags on it from a local Raleigh boutique. "You can't beat that," she said. "It retailed for $58. It's $8 on sale, half price, so it's a $4, never been worn before Le Tigre shirt."

Passage owner Cranford said, "Right now people are looking for value on the dollar, and I think it's crazy to go to the mall and pay full price and buy a Hugo Boss suit for $670 dollars as opposed to $67."

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