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The words "back-to-school" conjure up many ideas. School supplies. Shoes. Clothing. As much as parents try to salvage things from the year before, the truth is kids wear things out and outgrow them, so an inevitable shopping trip is in your future.

This year, with the economy being increasingly tight in the local area, why not get creative with back-to-school shopping?

Shop Consignment Stores

According to the Association of Resale Professionals, consignment, thrift and resale shops have grown at least seven percent a year over the last two years. Consignment stores offer a cost-effective alternative to pricey department store tags, ultimately giving the customer the best of both worlds: gently worn designer clothing at a fraction of the cost. Most stores sell clothing, shoes, backpacks, purses and jewelry.

Sam Baker, assistant manager of Plato's Closet in Central Park, said, "Everything we sell is between 50-70 percent of the original retail value. Instead of paying $50-60 for a pair of Hollister jeans at the mall, you can purchase them at our store for around $20." Baker noted that all clothing is name brand, trending items. "Some customers come in on a Friday before a date because they want a great outfit while on a budget."

Sandy Freeman, manager of the Re-Run Shoppe, a 35-year-old consignment business in Downtown Fredericksburg, said, "People shop at our store because we have great clothing and great prices. And they are not paying department store prices."

Host a Clothing Swap

Before consigning, consider hosting a clothing swap with your friends. A clothing swap is essentially a get together where everyone brings clothing they no longer want or need. Then guests are allowed to pick and choose, usually based on a raffle-style system, which items they want to take home. Chances are something your child has outgrown may fit one of your friends' children. has a detailed article about how to host a clothing swap. 

Large Community Clothing Sales

In the Fredericksburg area, there are opportunities to buy and consign at community clothing sales. Weecycled Wardrobe, Classy Kids Consignment and the Anne Moncure Elementary PTO clothing sale in Stafford are three of the larger area events. Here, consignors price their own items while the organization receives a percentage of sales.

Consign Your Clothing!

Still can't pass up those designer jeans at Nordstrom? You can make extra cash by consigning your clothes at a consignment shop. Consignors are generally given a portion of the selling price of the clothing. Some shops, including Central Park's Once Upon A Child and Plato's Closet, give you cash on the spot for your clothing.

Sam Baker said, "We have seen in increase not only in customers shopping in our store, but also selling in our store. Sometimes someone might just need an extra $20 for gas, so they come in and consign some of their clothing."

Sandy Freeman added, "Why not make some money and be able to get some new clothes at the same time?"

Kerry Pinto is a freelance writer and consignment lover living in Stafford.

Editor's note: FredParent has a great guide to consignment stores right here on our website!


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Pouches' Community Corner

Trains, Planes and Automobiles Kids' Race Series


From a small beginning, Cathy Weise of the Ron Rosner YMCA has developed an ambitious three-race series for kids for this summer, with the help of The Great Train Race, Shannon Airport, Dominion Raceway & Entertainment, the Fredericksburg Area Service League and Race Timing Unlimited.

Great Train Race Director Jennifer Taylor was one of the first on board.