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Home » Cheap Thrills, Fashion

I wear my grandad’s clothes. I look incredible

By Keegan Prosser on March 21, 2013 – No Comment

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KEEGAN PROSSER

Prompted by the Northwest’s nostalgia for ‘90s chic, and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ smash hit “Thrift Shop,” it seems old is becoming the new, new. Yes, shopping secondhand is the “cool” thing to do.

For many, the difference between consignment and thrift shops can be tricky thing to understand. However, there are a few basic rules: thrift stores sell used items that were donated by individuals. In contrast, consignment shops are places where individuals can sell their used clothing through a dealer. The shop takes a percentage of the profit for each item sold. Consignment shops also hand-pick the items they will consign and offer for purchase.

Whether it means perusing the aisles of a high-end consignment shop, or digging through bins at the local thrift store, the Eastside has a variety of options for shoppers with saving on the mind.

CONSIGNMENT

Regarding consignment shops on the Eastside, Ragamoffyn’s in Kirkland is one of a kind. Opened by Gisella Manning 30 years ago, it’s also one of the longest standing.

Known for carrying the best of the best in second hand clothes, Manning’s store features high-end brands including Dolce and Gabbana, Prada, Louis Vuitton and Gucci.

Manning explains that designer handbags and anything Chanel have proved to be the biggest sellers at Ragamoffyn’s over the years.

“When someone comes in and finds a Chanel suit for $1,000 instead of seven or eight [thousand], that’s a really good deal,” Manning says.

Other great finds? Manolo Blahniks  (channel your inner Carrie Bradshaw) and Emilio Pucci pumps straight out of the box.

But fostering this caliber of merchandise was not an easy task, says Manning. In fact, she says it took seven or eight years of picking through stacks of clothes to really establish her store as a go-to for designer duds. Manning and her staff now bring in between 200-400 new high-end items a week.

Also characteristic of Manning’s store is their top of the line customer service and dedication to the customer having the best possible experience.

“My goal is, even thought it’s a second hand store, I don’t want people to feel like they are shopping in a secondhand store,” Manning says. “I want them to feel like they walk into a boutique.”

THRIFT

For those looking to save even more, thrift stores are far from scarce on the Eastside; among them you’ll find Value Village (Redmond), R & D Thrift Store And Boutique (Renton), Northwest Thrift Store (Kirkland), Heart and Home (Bellevue) – and more.

The Bellevue Goodwill has also proved a gem for finding great items at even better prices. Do you want a fancy fur jacket? They’ve got it. Or a pair of funky earrings? You’ll probably find those, too.

In addition to reasonably priced clothing, thrift stores generally offer a wide variety of household goods and furniture. Are you in need of a new kitchen table – or a retro couch? It’s completely reasonable to assume you’ll find that here. The aisles also offer a variety of dish ware, serving trays and decorative figurines.

It should be noted that because thrift stores depend on donations, they are often overloaded, disorderly, and a tad overwhelming to shop in. Yet, if you’ve got the time – and an open mind – there are treasures to be found amongst the neon lights of another forgotten man cave.

BUSINESS

It’s no secret the market for consignment and thrift shops is ever growing. So much so, that Manning says she wouldn’t dream of opening a new store today.

“Today, I wouldn’t open a new [consignment store] because Seattle is saturated with consignment and thrift,” she says.

Yet, just this winter, another consignment shop called “Ginnie’s Collection,” opened in Bellevue.

Owned by Ginnie Crawford, and operated by her mother, Stella Powell, the store is looking to join Ragamoffyn’s as a destination for high-end pieces.

“I think there is room for [several] great stores on the Eastside,” Powell says. “They’re all different.”

Manning agrees that each store has something to offer, a different clientele to appease.