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Hot under the collar at the consignment shop

Consignment fashions are hot stuff these days, especially when the mercury outside tops 100 degrees (F). But do folks really have to be so steamed about a few choice items?

Even the weatherman couldn’t have predicted this perfect storm.

After weeks of nagging from a certain someone (who happens to share my closet), I finally mustered the motivation to weed out several stale items. I gathered up the shoes that hurt my feet, the blouses that don’t button, and the shorts that are simply too short for a woman of my vintage.

Who wouldn’t be lucky to pick up such treasures? I mused.


I phoned a friend, who tackled the same project in her own closet.

We loaded our seasoned fashion gems into the trunk of her car and cruised to a consignment shop in a tourist town nearby. We counted ourselves savvy consignors, as we circled the block in traffic. The high season is clearly underway, if the sidewalk shuffle is any indicator. The Fourth of July Weekend is just around the corner. 

Surely our closet rejects (er, lovely fashion items) would sell in a flash.

Finally finding a parking spot, we huffed and puffed and loaded ourselves up with armfuls of neatly washed, ironed, and hangered items.

We trudged along the sidewalk, jostling past Skinny Minnies in teeny bikinis, red-faced matrons in tropical print muumuus, and sweaty seniors in plaid Bermuda shorts.

I nearly tripped over a grey poodle on a leash, as I juggled an oversized shopping bag to open the door to the shop. Three sundresses and a pair of cropped chinos fell to the ground. I gathered the goodies and went into the consignment store.


Then the storm began.

“Oh, no!” the saleslady behind the counter groaned, before the jingling bells on the door stopped ringing. “You’re not bringing us stuff to sell, are you?”

My friend and I stashed our stuff on the garment rack labeled “Incoming Items” and stopped to catch a breath.

“We are simply too busy to look through consignment items today,” announced the pinch-faced consignment lady. (Actually, her name is Fran. We’ve dealt with her before.) “I’m here alone today, and I can’t stop to check in your things.”

As if on cue, a younger woman stepped behind the counter, pulled a key from her pocket and unlocked the jewelry case to show a customer a silver necklace.

Fran raised a precisely plucked eyebrow and clucked a bit.

“If you’d like to donate, that’s fine," she said with a second-hand smile. "Or you can leave them on the rack in back,and we'll get to them when we get to them. But we can’t count consignments until next week. We’ve changed our policy on incoming goods, and we only take things on Mondays through Wednesdays.”

Gee, we must not have seen the memo-that-never-was, I thought. This was Thursday. I wondered whether Fran had ever been a kindergarten teacher, as she seemed to be scolding us like a couple of naughty five year olds.

Just then, a real five year old approached the counter, holding a red lace tank top. “Do you have this in a smaller size?” she chirped. Fran stopped pecking at the keys on the cash register and bent across the glass display, nearly knocking down an easeled tray of enameled brooches.

“Sorry, sweetie,” she purred. “Everything we have is one-of-a-kind.”

How right she is, I decided, grimacing at my cohort in crime. She's one-of-a-kind for sure.

Here we were, bringing in free merchandise for the shop to sell. Sure, they’d pay us a small percentage of sales, but they’d make a handy profit as well. But, instead of greeting us, as we schlepped our still-stylish duds into the store, the snippy staffer essentially alienated us instead.
OK, maybe Fran was having a rough day, as we all do. Perhaps she faced an inordinate amount of stress at home. Possibly, her gerbil had the flu. Who knows? Still, we found ourselves sorry we'd stopped in her store. 
We went to leave, and the passive-aggressive saleslady called out to us.

“Did you want to look around a bit before you go?” By then, we were on the sidewalk.

“You bet we wanna look around,” chimed my quick-comeback comrade, as we approached the car. “We want to look around for a new consignment shop.”

But that’s not the end of the story.

Remember Fran, the passive-aggressive saleslady, who said they wouldn’t even check in consignment items on a Thursday? She called me less than an hour later. Apparently, she’d already sorted our wares.

In her “You’ve been naughty” tone, Fran explained how she would only accept four of the 34 items I had offered and just a few of my friend’s fashion finds as well. She went on to reiterate that anything we didn’t collect within one week would become the store’s own property.

Did she, or did she not, want our chic cast-offs?

But we’d already cast off. And the next time we clean out our closets, we’re hauling our best wares elsewhere.


Sorting Out Garments for Consignment
Photo by Linda Ann Nickerson – Nickers and Ink Creative Communications

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