When Stacie Money opened her first consignment shop, Fringe, in Opelika some nine years ago, she was making a valuable addition to the local economy. Within three months, the business had to move into a larger space. Today, there are three Fringe stores, two in Opelika and a boutique in Auburn, plus the Fringe Kids that accepts merchandise from infant size to children 14-16.

If you have not explored consignment trading, you are in for a treat and some money in addition. First, you go through your closets and get the items that you want to sell.

Contact one of the Fringe consignment shops or the other consignment shops in the area to get their rules and an appointment.

Generally, you will find common-sense rules apply. Items should be clean and whole, meaning no missing buttons, belts, or decoration. It is usually acceptable for the item to “look” clean but not just back from the cleaners. There should be no stains or tears or snags. In other words, it should look like a new item that you would purchase in a high end retail store.

Fringe accepts only items that have been purchased within the last two or three years. They do not handle vintage clothing.

Most stores accept items either on hangers or neatly folded in a box but you need to find out all this before you go to the store. Some stores accept drop in items but most do not, so it is best to talk to the store before you visit.

It may be the practice of that particular store to pay you cash on the spot or they may have some other arrangement. Cash on the spot is the best way to go but leaving them in the store beats nothing; however, be sure you find out what the policy is if the items are not sold within a certain time. In some stores these items will be donated to charity.

If you have never shopped in consignment stores, you are in for a nice surprise. You feel you have just stepped into a high fashion boutique and in many cases, you have. Most people want to get the most money for their used clothing and designer clothing sells well in consignment shops.

You can be exceptionally well dressed by shopping the consignment stores, probably wearing designer clothing that could not be afforded at regular retail prices.

So, first try to sell your merchandise at the consignment stores. If this does not work at this time, don’t be discouraged. Go back to the closet for additional items and begin a search around the house for merchandise you can sell at a yard sale.

Ask at least two good friends to help you with the sale, keeping in mind that signs should be up in your front yard, or where the sale will be held, as soon as you know when you will hold the sale. On the day of the sale, lock front and back doors to your house and keep the key in your pocket.

If you have clothing left over after the garage sale, do not let it go to the trash. Our environment doesn’t need it and lots of people do need it. Donate it to the Salvation Army or Goodwill or one of the local churches who have need for it. Keep a list of what is donated so you can deduct it when tax time comes.

Make shopping at the Fringe shops and other consignment shops one more way that we can come out ahead when the economy doesn’t seem to want to cooperate with us.