Your Guide To Consignment Shopping In Chicago

UPDATE: Is your closet ready for your new fall wardrobe? We didn't think so. Clear out those unworn clothes thanks to these so-awesome consignment shops. This story was originally published on July 11.
When was the last time you took a good look through your closet? We mean really looked. Chances are, you'll find hanger after hanger of unworn garb or duds that make you wonder why you ever swiped your plastic in the first place. Well, it's time for a new lease on your sartorial life, and what better place to start than at one of the Windy City's many seriously chic (and under-the-radar!) consignment shops.
Here, we help you navigate the secondhand-store world, with tips on everything from how to sell your goods to scoring major deals on the best designers. Behold, our ultimate cheat sheet to everything consignment shopping. Now, the only thing left to do is sell, sell, sell. Or buy, buy, buy.
The Haute Spot
The Haute Spot was launched by a longtime Chicago stylist (and former Neiman Marcus personal shopper) who knows the importance of confidentiality when working with the city’s elite. Her young staff is noticeably poised, professional, sweet, and bubbly — it’s like the cutthroat world of fashion has yet to jade these fresh-out-of-college fashionphiles.
The Haute Spot is all about confidential, five-star treatment for their hush-hush high-profile consignors. They provide concierge-like services from start to finish, including seamless transfers to sister company Karna Johnson Styling Associates, which is super convenient if consignors wish to include wardrobe consulting and personal shopping as part of their closet purge.
While bargain hunters may be initially intimidated by the price tags on pieces (such as a nearly $10,000 Hermès Kelly bag!), you’ll find relief after clicking over to their more accessible store, Contemplations, which features contemporary brands such as Calypso, Vince, J.Crew, and BCBG. All of these items are available to view and try on in-store at Haute Spot’s chic shopping parties on the first Thursday of every month.
The Haute Spot, 935 West Chestnut Street (at Sangamon Street); 312-226-7768.
Luxury Garage Sale
Specializing in upscale contemporary and vintage clothing and accessories, Luxury Garage Sale has been primarily an eBay store since launching in early 2011. They're now opening an Old Town storefront that will revolutionize high-end consignment shopping and selling.
Consignors can drop off their duds at the new location or arrange for in-home pickup. Your everyday designer pieces (BCBG, Amanda Uprichard, etc.) will have an initial listing starting at $30-$35 and up, and top-designer items (Chanel, Carolina Herrera, Marchesa) can be listed at as much as $2,500 (or boast a buy-it-now price of $12,000, as is the case of the Tom Ford gown currently listed). Because of the higher initial listing price of even basic brands (versus other eBay stores’ starting at $18.99), some of your items may not sell ... but those that do will bring a nice check.
With more than 600 women’s and men’s items listed at any given time, shoppers of all budgets can place a bid or buy it now. With the new storefront, you’ll be able to purchase the piece you’re coveting immediately — no bidding necessary. For those of you who like to shop from the Wi-Fi of your own neighborhood Starbucks or secretly at work, the eBay store will still be going strong. LGS also works with top boutiques to sell their overstock, which means you have access to new items with tags.
Luxury Garage Sale, retail store coming Summer 2012.
The focus of the VH1 show House of Consignment, eDrop-Off has wide acclaim, and therefore, a robust following on eBay, selling everything, from contemporary to designer clothing and accessories. While they offer at-home pickup across the U.S., their storefront on Halsted is beautiful, and an in-person trip is recommended.
eDrop-Off will start your more basic items (Betsey Johnson, Theory) at the low price of $18.99, which may disappoint some consignors at first, but this sales strategy paired with the eBay store’s popularity usually results in several bids and, ultimately, an escalated price, especially as the auction nears close. Consignors should remember that a sold item, even at a low price, is better than an unsold item, and a low start price is a catalyst for more bids.
Spot something you love from the more than 1,400 women’s and men’s items listed online? Set up an appointment to try the item on in person, and then hope that you have the winning bid when the auction closes. Recently spotted online: YSL patent pumps wrapping up auction for under $200 and Kelly green Gucci sandals and Judith Ripka charms — each closing for under $100. From a shopper’s perspective, prices at eDrop-Off are great for the luxury items they list. And, don't forget eDrop-off's annual Charity Warehouse Sale benefitting the Anti-Cruelty Society will be in October.
eDrop-Off, 2117 North Halsted Street (between Dickens and Webster avenues); 773-525-7467.
Photo: Courtesy of The Haute Spot
Second Time Around
You may recognize this chain of consignment shops from Bravo’s Fashion Hunters, which featured a New York City location — not to mention Real Housewife Alex McCord’s stint as a consultant to the store. Located along Armitage, Second Time Around’s prices are a welcome respite from its neighboring boutiques and features some of the same pieces as their high-end counterparts.
You’ll want to make an appointment before coming in. And, keep in mind: This is a great place to take your mid-level items, or the high-end pieces that for some reason did not have success at a luxury or eBay consignment store.
Racks are well marked, promoting employees’ top choices, new arrivals, and markdowns. While the store boasts mostly basic brands (J.Crew, Banana Republic) and contemporary designers (Milly, Trina Turk, Laundry), there are usually a couple higher-end suits and jackets (St. John, Versace). The sales staff isn’t exactly the warmest (see the scathing Yelp reviews), but it can also be nice to be left alone while perusing.
Second Time Around, 823 West Armitage Avenue (between Dayton and Halsted streets); 773-698-6260.
Leahey and Ladue
This under-the-radar shop is a great, classic consignment shop in Lincoln Park. No eBay store, no presence on Pinterest, and not active on Twitter, but great customer service and loyal consignors and customers.
They suggest that you bring a minimum of 10 items per drop. You may want to call before coming in, as they have very specific guidelines in terms of seasonal garb they will accept and times of the day at which you can consign. They are now making a concerted effort to ask that consignors not bring basic brands, like Ann Taylor or Banana Republic.
Here’s where you’ll find tags ranging from J. Crew at $15-$50 to Diane Von Furstenberg on up to Jimmy Choo and Valentino for $80-$160. The range of brands and price points makes shopping here fun. You never know what you’re going to find. The store is small and packed wall to wall, so bring your patience and set aside time to really dig — that’s when you’ll find the best deals. Not only do they occasionally have 50% off storewide, but any day of the week, the super friendly sales staff will work with you on pricing so that you can call that high-end designer piece your own.
Leahey and Ladue, 3753 North Southport Avenue (between Grace and Waveland streets); 773-929-4865.
Selections is an unexpected gem along Clybourn. The staff goes out of their way to select very unique contemporary and high-end items — those with funky, bold patterns, beading, or a little something extra. (Spring items included an animal print Trina Turk dress, neon graphic-print Marc Jacobs satin shoes, and hot fuchsia Burberry jacket.)
Consignors can choose to consign on behalf of a charity, which then receives 60% of the sale price, and the consignor takes a tax deduction. There’s a 15-item minimum for in-home pickup of upscale designer brands. Consignors can earn a cash bonus for referring new consignors.
Take your time, especially during a sale. Dresses, dresses, dresses — Selections is the place to find a bold party dress or a light cotton sundress with a twist, all in top-notch condition, plus the eye-catching designer shoes to pair with it. The location is great for a quick shop-around while waiting for a movie to start at Webster Cinema. Seasonal sales go down in February and August, although there is a consistent markdown schedule as well.
Selections, 2152 North Clybourn Avenue (at North Southport Avenue); 773-296-4014.
About The Author: Ellie Abrams is a young Chicago professional focused on building her savings account and stretching her paycheck, while still dressing her best and establishing a collection of classic luxury goods in her wardrobe. She's never been afraid of a hand-me-down and finds Chicago's high-end consignment stores to be an amazing treasure chest of designer items right in her price range — a chance to treat herself to a little luxury while being cost-conscious. As a true consignment shopping connoisseur, we recruited Ellie to help us navigate the world of Chicago resale.
Photo: Courtesy of Second Time Around

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