How to Consignment Shop Like a Pro: Tips from the Owners Themselves

Shop like an insider with these tips straight from the pros.

By Christina Marino

We all have that one friend who has exceptional clothes with great stories to follow – a J. Crew jacket for 15 dollars or a Chanel bag that’s never been used and has tags still intact. But, is it luck or is it pure determination that gets them these one-of-a-kind deals? We broke it down and got personal with some of the best Northern Virginia consignment shop owners and they let us in on their secrets for how to be the best consignment shopper out there. Looking for a shop near you? Check out A Guide to Thrift, Consignment, Vintage and Antique Stores.


Mint Condition Interior; photo courtesy of Michael Kleinrock


Toni Henderson

Mint Condition [103 S. Saint Asaph St, Alexandria, VA 22314]

Determining the real from the faux: “It’s different for every brand and a rigorous research process. [You should] look for serial numbers, letters and number meaning. Check the stitching, leather, date codes, etc.”

How to find a good consignment shop: “Stick[ing] to stores that are well-edited definitely helps. [They carry] items from brands that people are looking for and recent seasons [that are] two years (old) or less. Lily Pulitzer, Kate Spade, Chanel and Louis Vuitton [are good brands].”

Best tip: “Do not to be discouraged by the idea of consignment . It’s not what it used to be. It is a lot friendlier, brighter, and cleaner—don’t be overwhelmed.”


Naylor at Business Women of Loudoun Chamber of Commerce lunch; photo courtesy of Frank Naylor

Marilyn Naylor

Consignment Boutique – Celebrate Chic  [302-A Industrial Court, S.E., Leesburg, VA 20175]

What makes consignment different: “Respect is really important. Twenty-five percent [of consigned clothes] are new with tags. We want people to treat the clothing with respect [because that is what] we do. We treat everyone that comes in with respect and we treat the clothing and jewelry with respect as well.”

Where are your consigned pieces from: “[We] get shipments from all over the country and from locals for consignment. [If the item doesn’t sell] we donate the clothes or [they] can choose to pick the clothing back up. The pieces left behind are donated to Women Giving Back or Blue Ridge Hospice.”

Best tip: “If you see the item, buy it – because there’s only one!” 


Lopez in Current Boutique; photo courtesy of Current Boutique

Carmen Lopez

Current Boutique [2529 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201; 1009 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314]   

The process of determining real from the faux: “First thing to do is look at the stitching – it is the number one giveaway if something is fake. Second, check the hardware and material. Third, check the labels and logo and fourth, check the lining.”

First time consignment shoppers should: “Start today! It will save you a ton of money on designer items.  It is a one stop shop and will expose you to many different brands, fabrics and styles in one place.”

Best tip: “You should absolutely LOVE everything in your closet.  If you don’t love something in your closet, consign it – let someone else buy it and give it the attention it deserves.  You’ll make money in the process and de-clutter your life.


Finder's Keepers Interior; photo courtesy of Stephanie George


Stephanie George

Finder’s Keepers [5906 Washington Blvd, Arlington, VA 22205]

Where are most consignment pieces from: “Eighty to ninety percent of our business is walk-ins. We have 2500 consigners and get new consigner’s everyday—literally. In our area it is a very transient area, [so] we are super fortunate to get a great variety of stuff from people that travel all over the world.”

Don’t have buyers (or sellers) remorse: “I’m really honest with people. We don’t want to just sell things if it’s not the right thing for the right person. If it’s really that hard of a decision, then don’t buy it. If it’s too emotional for you to get rid of it sometimes we say to people that we recommend to keep it. It shouldn’t cause you that much stress; it should lighten your heart to know that somebody else is going to take advantage of this great thing that you love.”

Best tip: “[First time consigners should] be realistic about their items. They have to be in really good condition and recent style or truly vintage. It’s an amazing way of getting household furniture or a new wardrobe for a ridiculously cheap price –a smart way to extend your fashion budget without feeling guilty.”