4 In Series

The Where I Shop Series: Consignment and Secondhand Stores

Erin in her shades of gray

Erin in her shades of gray


It should have been no surprise at all that Erin and Caitlin, my daughters, bought SAX Consignment store in San Anselmo at the end of the summer from their friend, Jen. Erin had consignment retail experience galore because SAX was her first job when she was sixteen. Jen, the person the girls bought the store from, had also been a longtime employee of SAX prior to owning it. She bought it from my friend, Linda who first set up the shop. And The Oprah Winfrey Show segments I was in when I was on her show giving lots of tips about how not to look matronly were filmed right there on San Anselmo Avenue in San Anselmo. Some of them were filmed inside the store and some of them outside the front window of SAX. So we have a lot of family and friend history with that store!

Bargain shopping on BrendaKinsel.com

Erin in her bargain outfit


Erin’s love for consignment

Erin is a bargain huntress. She probably was that way right out of the womb. She loves shopping consignment stores and secondhand stores. I love consignment stores a lot, too. Mostly I’m bringing things to a consignment store that I’m not in love with anymore and getting a check for them when they sell. I’m not spending much time shopping in them. However, now that the girls own a consignment store, that’s started to change!

I asked Erin what she loved about shopping consignment stores and secondhand stores. She had some great points.

I can shop this way and find the quality I like in much lower prices. The things that would be $250 – $1000 in a store are things I can find for $40. If I’m spending money on clothes I want them to be beautiful and quality clothes are beautiful to me. When people take things to consignment stores they may be bringing in clothes they bought in their travels around the world. So you see things you wouldn’t normally see in department stores. I like finding European labels there.

Another thing she loves is when she comes across something vintage, something that was made with great care and detail. Designer items are far less than retail. She adds that if colors in stores this season aren’t colors you look great in, a consignment store offers items that may actually be better suited to someone than current fashion trends are.

I like to hunt. I know it’s not easy for everyone. I find pieces I want to wear and then I have to figure out how to put them into outfits.

Truth be told, that’s where her mommy comes in. Not always, but sometimes.

I love helping her style some gems she’s purchased but hasn’t figured out how to wear yet. Maybe I just like being in closets more than anything. One day after working with a client in the city I said, “Want me to help you make outfits from your closet?” Funny thing, she took me up on it. I was in heaven and she was grateful.

Family members benefit

The other great thing is that she knows my style and her sister’s style and often she brings us things or puts things aside that she thinks we might like. I’m not against bargains either! Now that the girls have the store, I stop by when I know they’ll be there. Here’s a navy jersey dropped waist dress I bought when I went to visit Caitlin in the shop. I’ll be wearing it on Saturday to a party (without the wrist brace). It’s got batwing sleeves and I feel so great in it. I probably wouldn’t have sought this dress out but that is a thing I love about consignment. You end up trying on things that are outside your comfort zone or are different in some way from what you already have at home or what you’re seeing in the stores.

Navy jersey dress from SAX Consignment

Navy jersey dress from SAX Consignment

The difference between consignment stores and secondhand stores

I want to let you know the differences between consignment stores and secondhand stores.

Here’s what happens at a secondhand store like Crossroads Trading on Fillmore Street, a place Erin likes to check out.

  1. You bring in your clothes and they give you 35% of what they sell it for. For instance, if they price something at $50, you get $15.
  2. You’re paid cash right away.
  3. They don’t price things very high because they want to move the merchandise they’ve invested in as soon as they can.

Here’s what happens at a consignment store like SAX Consignment.

  1. You bring in your clothes and the person working selects what she thinks will sell in the store.
  2. The consignment split at SAX is 50/50. You get 50% of what sells and the store gets the other 50%.
  3. Items are held in the store for 2-3 months.
  4. If clothes sell, the customer comes in and picks up a check for her half.
  5. If clothes don’t sell, the customer comes in and picks up what didn’t sell or she can choose ahead of time to donate what doesn’t sell.


Shades of gray on BrendaKinsel.com

Shades of gray and texture mixes, yum

Breaking down Erin’s gray outfit

When Erin showed up at work wearing this gray outfit that I loved, I had to ask her a question. “Is everything you’re wearing things you’ve picked up at consignment stores or secondhand stores?” The answer was yes. Here’s the breakdown of her gray outfit.

The charcoal wool sailor pants are by Vince. She’s had them about seven years. The gray cropped sweater is also by Vince. The scarf is cashmere by Marc Jacobs. Her striped tank is something she bought new. The boots are Frye. The gray hooded elbow length coat is by Hanii J. Her black bag is by Kooba. For the works, she figures she spent about $200. I imagine if they were regular price, this outfit would be heading towards $1500 pretty quickly. She knows what she’s doing!


Elbow length gray coat on BrendaKinsel.com

Elbow length gray coat

Shopping consignment

I’ll have more tips on shopping consignment stores in the future but this gives you a taste of the experience. Are you a hunter? Do you love shopping this way? What have your experiences been, both pros and cons? Please share!

Below are some recent store windows at the girls’ store. They have a great Instagram account: @saxconsignment. And if you want to visit the store, it’s open seven days a week and is at 629 San Anselmo Ave., San Anselmo.

And now I’ll stop talking about them. I’m probably in trouble already.

The mannequin at SAX consignment

An outfit in the window of SAX

Gucci dress at SAX Consignment

A Gucci dress priced at SAX for $225 was probably $1800 retail

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    jodie filogomo
    February 9, 2017 at 8:15 am

    How exciting for them, Brenda!!
    I agree with your daughter—it’s like a treasure hunt to shop at the thrift and consignment shops! And then you have the advantage of not looking like everyone else out there!!
    I know for me, I buy something at the retail store, and if I end up not liking it or wearing it much, I feel guilty for spending that money on that item. But if I got it second hand for very little money—I don’t feel as bad about it!!

    • Reply
      February 10, 2017 at 11:40 am

      You make an excellent point. The mistakes (if they turn out to be mistakes) are less painful at those prices. Yet I really caution people about fudging on things because getting it wrong won’t hurt so bad. I think it’s so important to stick with your shopping principles like buying it only if it fits, flatters, makes you happy. I’ve seen people buy things that weren’t quite the right size or maybe the fabric is a little itchy but they buy it anyway. So the same way you shop when things are not on sale needs to be engaged when you shop consignment stores or you can get in a rut of still having too many clothes and nothing to wear. Does that make sense?

  • Reply
    Jill Stanwick
    February 9, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    These are my favorite stores. Never know what you will find. Usually a treasure! I also shop thrift, but you have to know your brands. Often I find items I may never have tried otherwise,just as you mentioned. I love the hunt.

    • Reply
      February 10, 2017 at 11:44 am

      I went to an arty cocktail party last night. It made me think of things you can find in a consignment store like those items you may never have tried before. I saw something in Erin and Caitlin’s store that would have been perfect for last night’s event because it was so different. Unfortunately it wasn’t in my colors. But you’ve inspired me Jill, along with Jodie, to look for those items that would be more fanciful maybe or more interesting. I’ll be thinking about you two when I go shopping at the girls’ store!

    Leave a Reply