THE MONEY PINCH: Shoppers Flock to Resale Stores
Frequenting area consignment, thrift and resale stores has become the hot new shopping trend in the Sandhills in recent weeks.
While big name retail stores might be experiencing a downturn because of the recession, resale stores are benefiting from resourceful customers looking to cut back on spending.
Evelyna Mil-borne at Twice Is Nice in Southern Pines let out a little chuckle when asked if sales were doing well.
"Yeah, you're not kidding," she said. "Business is good."
Milborne said the store already enjoys a steady flow of business, but the hard economic times and the holidays have brought in a lot of new customers as well. She added that many old customers she hasn't seen in a while are also returning.
She said the store sells a "little bit of everything," including jewelry, which explains why a lot of customers are taking care of their Christmas shopping there.
Milborne said she can sense that her customers are worried about the economy. She said many of them make comments on the high price of groceries these days, as well as an increase in home energy costs.
Phyllis Hoffman at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church Thrift Shop on Broad Street in downtown Southern Pines, which is open three days a week, said she has definitely seen an increase of business. Customers have been flocking from all over -- from as far away as Fayetteville, Laurinburg and Rockingham -- in search mainly of clothes and Christmas gifts.
"I think there's been an advance in sales," she said. "By and large, we have savvy customers that are looking for quality at a low price."
As its name suggests, a group of volunteers from Emmanuel Episcopal Church operates the store. It is closed in the summer but has been in operation off and on for 25 years. Hoffman said that the store has also been on the receiving end of a lot of goodwill from the community.
"We're overloaded with donations," she said.
Marianne Turner, president of the Whispering Pines Thrift Shop, has enjoyed similar success. Like the Emmanuel store, customers have been snatching up winter clothing and Christmas items.
"We've had some really good weeks," she said. "I think that's the trend. Where else can you find a two-piece suit for $6?"
Like Emmanuel, Turner has seen new clients streaming into the store.
"They're coming from everywhere," she said.
Heather Fino, manager of Fifi's Fine Resale Apparel, said business has been very good at that consignment store also.
"I think sales are booming," she said. "People are trying to make money by consigning. [Others] also are trying to save money."
Fifi's has three locations in the Sandhills. The two clothing stores are located along Broad Street in Southern Pines, while a home interiors store is on N.C. 5 in Aberdeen.
Owner Fifi Queen said in a phone interview that she too has sensed a lot of concerns among her customers. She said everyone's watched the economy change over time, and now the recession is gripping the country.
"They're very concerned," she said. "People are consigning in order to make money to live."
Queen said her stores are benefiting from a "two-way street" --people consigning to make money and people buying to save money.
Business has been so good, she is turning the Fifi's brand into a national franchise -- the first consignment franchise ever.
"It's perfect," she said. "The timing was so perfect."
So far, Queen said the plan has generated a lot of interest, from the Hamptons on Long Island to Seattle.
"It's amazing," she said.
Page Dettor, owner of Page Furniture -- a Southern Pines furniture store that offers consignments -- said that his store is doing better than most, even though he admitted that everything is down for the most part.
"We have a more educated buyer," he said. "People are still buying if they have the money."
Dettor said a big reason his store is having better luck than stores selling new furniture is that he doesn't have a lot of money tied up in products that are just sitting on the showroom floor.
"A lot of our inventory is not owned by us," he said, referring to the consignments. "There's not a lot of cash laid out in inventory."
Dettor said that he tries to take in nicer furniture items as opposed to "junk." He said those better quality items are selling better right now, even though the Christmas season is not usually the best time of year for him.
"We're chugging right along," he said. "We're very fortunate to be where we are."
Contact John Krahnert III at 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
More like this story