Buying clothes secondhand is a sustainable alternative to fast fashion, which is responsible for mass-producing clothing using cheap materials.
Why it matters: Fast fashion, like fast food, is inexpensive and relatively easily accessible. But it has long been criticized for its environmental impact as well as its use of cheap labor overseas.
- Oxford’s English dictionary defines fashion as “inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.” Think Forever 21, H&M and much to the chagrin of many in our newsroom, Zara.
By the numbers: The fashion industry produces more than 8% of global carbon emissions, which is more than maritime shipping and international flights combined, per the UN Alliance For Sustainable Fashion.
- Plus the industry is the second-largest water consumer.
- The average consumer purchases 60% more pieces of clothing compared to 15 years ago, while only keeping an item for half the time they used to, per the UN Alliance For Sustainable Fashion.
The bottom line: While you may still see fast fashion pieces at these stores, shopping at consignment stores help you reduce your carbon footprint, and it gives you a chance to put together a unique look.
- Plus you can sell or consign your gently used items at some of these stores.
My thought bubble: Consignment stores gave me an affordable way to furnish my professional wardrobe when I moved to Charlotte eight years ago. They provided me with some of my favorite pieces, which I still wear today.
Location: 8120 Providence Rd Unit 500
What to expect: You’ll find a mix of brands, from Birkenstock to Lululemon.
Sell: You can sell your gently used clothes here for cash on the spot. See brands they accept here.
Location: 8145 Ardrey Kell Road Suite 101
What to expect: It feels more like a boutique than a secondhand store. You’ll see high-end options, like Gucci, Tiffany & Co. and Sam Edelman.
Consign: Here’s a list of brands they accept, plus ones they don’t take, including a number of fast fashion brands. Also, clothes you want to consign cannot be more than two years old and they must be on hangers. You’re allowed to consign a maximum of 20 items per visit.
- You can drop clothes off in-store, they’ll pick them up from your home if you’re in a 10-mile radius or you can ship your items to the store.
- Consignors receive 40% of the sale price on regular items and 60% of the sale price on luxury items, such as Burberry.
- Consignors are paid every Monday for sold items.
Location: 3609 South Blvd
What to expect: Name-brand men’s and women’s accessories, clothes, jewelry, shoes and home décor can be found here.
My thought bubble: The best part about exploring the store was seeing everything color coordinated with fun chalkboard signs reading “bold blue” and “plump purple.” Points for alliteration, GW.
Of note: Goodwill retail stores are also donation drop-off locations.
Location: 2400 Park Road
What to expect: It’s an upscale consignment store, selling brands like Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik.
Consign: Call the store at 704-375-1334 to set up an appointment. Sellers make 45% of the store’s retail price on an item.
- Of note: Items are only on the store floor for 60 days.
- You can pick up your check between the 15-20th of each month, or you can take store credit.
- Checks are only mailed to you if you live outside of Charlotte.
Location: 1419 East Blvd
What to expect: They sell brands like Movemama Breastfeeding and Maternity, Pink Blush and Pea in the Pod.
Consign: Items must be in like-new condition and currently in style. They can be dropped off during business hours.
- They also items be neatly folded in a box, basket or reusable bag. Don’t bring your clothes in a trash bag.
- Plus they offer a drive-up service, with the exception of Saturdays, so you can wait in your car if you have kids with you and this is an easier alternative.
- Items are consigned for up to 90 days, and if your clothes sell, you’ll receive 30% of the sale price via check or an extra 10% (40% total) in store credit. Of note: Store credit cannot be used online.
- They will mail you a check for a $5 fee, which is waived if you live outside of North or South Carolina. You can also receive payment via Venmo at no additional cost.
What to expect: You’ll find mall brands, like American Eagle and Abercrombie & Fitch.
Sell: You can sell your gently used clothes here for cash. See brands they accept here.
Location: 1110 Morningside Dr. Suite A
What to expect: The Charlotte-based clothing rental company providing same-day delivery also offers local pick-up at their studio. Ponybox offers new and secondhand items. You’ll find the latter in their neighborhood collection, which features clothes inspired by NoDa, Plaza Midwood and Dilworth.
Go deeper: Meet the clothing rental startup changing Charlotte’s fashion scene
Location: 442 E. 36th St.
What to expect: Vintage clothes in the heart of NoDa.
What to expect: You’ll find mall brands like Express and Forever 21, plus some designer brands.
Sell: They’ll offer 25-35% of what they’ll sell items for. You’ll receive 25% more (50-60% total) if you opt for store credit.
Consign: They offer consignment for designer brands, but you can still sell it on the spot. Expect to receive 60% for designer brands they purchase.
Of note: Bring items into the store in a reusable bag. They won’t take clothes you bring in on hangers.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in October 2015 as a guide. It was updated with new reporting on July 11, 2022.