paid only $10 for a skirt or is wearing someone else's castoffs.
Indeed, 80 percent of consumers surveyed in recent years by America's Research Group said they'd "never buy" someone else's worn clothing.
"A lot of people don't want to buy something used because of health concerns," said Chairman/CEO Britt Beemer.
Yet the troubled economy drives consumers to hunt for used clothing bargains. In a back-to-school shopping survey in July, America's Research Group reported that 18.9 percent of U.S. adults said they had shopped in a secondhand store during the last year.
Another avenue for secondhand clothes is "refashion," where creative, seamstress-savvy artists buy used apparel that's snipped and resewn into "new" garments.
Olivia Coelho, co-owner of Bows & Arrows resale boutique in Sacramento, Calif., whose wardrobe is mostly recycled clothing, says she hunts for period pieces from the '60s, '70s and '80s at vintage stores, estate sales and flea markets. She looks for geometric and bohemian fabrics that can be recrafted into crop tops, tunics or shirts, often thumbing through "plus-size" racks because there's more yardage to work with.
"It's the 'greenness' of it, but I also like the fashion history," said Coelho. "It's taking a fabric that's already lived its own life and cutting it up and making it into new shapes and styles."
SECONDHAND SHOPPING: BY THE NUMBERS
_25,000: Estimated number of U.S. "used merchandise" stores, including thrift, resale and consignment shops.
_$13 billion: Annual revenue of resale stores, which includes sales of apparel, furniture, books and jewelry.
_18.9 percent: Number of U.S. adults who said they've shopped at a thrift store in last year.
SOURCES: First Research; America's Research Group; Association of Resale Professionals
There's no lack of places to buy and sell "gently used" clothing, from eBay to newer startups with cutesy names such as Tradesy and Dig N' Swap. Here's a look:
_TheThriftShopper.com: National directory of more than 11,000 charity-driven secondhand and consignment stores, from small shops to giants such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army. Type in a ZIP code or city and state to find stores nearest you.
_ConsignmentMommies.com: Directory of where/how to buy gently used infant and kids' clothing at stores and swap events nationwide.
_DigNSwap.com: Post photos of your unwanted items, from jeans to hoodies, then arrange swaps with interested buyers. No trades of lingerie or swimsuits. Shipping handled between traders. Only charge is transaction fee of 99 cents per swap.
_Poshmark: An iPhone app, Poshmark lets women post clothes, handbags and shoes they want to sell. Also hosts real-time auctions. Sellers get a prepaid shipping label; company takes 20 percent commission.
_RehashClothes.com: Geared to students, it's an exchange site for swapping clothing, accessories and textbooks. Post photos of your tradeable items and search for things you want. Shipping terms are negotiated between you and fellow traders.
_ThredUP.com: Launched in the San Francisco Bay Area as an online consignment store for designer-brand used kids' clothing, it recently added women's apparel. It sends a free bag, which you stuff with clothes and ship off. The company evaluates each item, typically paying 40 percent of resale cost. You can take cash or shop its online store. Benefits Teach for America.
_Tradesy.com: With its "turn your closet into cash" slogan, the Santa Monica, Calif,. company is a women's-only online store for designer-label clothing, shoes and accessories. Also features maternity clothes and a complete wedding section. When your item sells, the company sends a free shipping bag and takes 9 percent of each sale.
_Threadflip.com: Based in San Francisco, it lets women buy/sell "pre-loved" designer and/or vintage clothes and accessories, including sunglasses and jewelry. It supplies free shipping boxes and takes 20 percent commission.
(c)2013 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)
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