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July 11, 2008

Consignment stores in Southern Indiana do big business as economy slows

Rita Naville has seen generations of families come through her consignment shop, Clothes Cottage, in the past 25 years. She knows birthdays, and anniversaries, children and grandchildren.

“We’ve seen the second generation of families — the parents who were originally customers, now their children are bringing stuff in here,” she said. “I love the work, I like the people.

“It’s never been work for me from day one — I thoroughly enjoy it.”

And that’s a good thing, because as the economy gets tighter, Naville has seen an increase in business.

“People need their money for gas and food, so they’re shopping at consignment stores to save.”

The economic crunch — high gas prices, high food costs, and an even higher cost of living — is leading many people to consignment stores, in search of not only cheap prices, but as a way to make a little money.

While retail stores are suffering, consignment stores are seeing an increase in sales and customers. A survey conducted by the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops found that among resale stores, 75 percent saw on average a 30 percent sales increase from April 2007 to April 2008.

“People who previously gave away clothing, household goods and furniture are seeking other ways to dispose of unwanted items during an economic pinch,” said Adele Meyer, executive director of the association. “Some may donate merchandise to a not-for-profit thrift shop and take advantage of tax deductions.

“Others may choose to sell or consign merchandise at a local resale shop — turning their no longer needed items into cash.”

And many residents in Floyd and Clark counties are choosing to turn the stuff sitting around their homes into extra income. Southern Indiana consignment shops — such as Annie’s Corner in Jeffersonville, Once Upon a Child and Plato’s Closet in Clarksville, and Clothes Cottage in New Albany — have seen an increase in sales rather than a decline as the economy weakens and expenses in other areas grow.

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