TRAVERSE CITY -- Spring's approach means decluttering closets and updating wardrobes.
Traverse City's consignment shops offer a two-fold way to save the billfold.
"This industry thrives during slow economic (times)," said Adele Meyer, executive director of the St. Clair Shores-based National Association of Resale & Thrift Shops.
Consigners who bring in items to local shops generally will receive 40 percent of the item's price when it sells. Stores keep the remaining 60 percent. Currently, area resalers are accepting clothes for spring and already have racks of clothes for the upcoming season. Savvy shoppers can save on sundresses and sandals, prom gowns and pajamas. Here's a guide to a few of the local consignment shops and what they offer.
Zany Consignment Boutique
Location: 318 Vine St. in Traverse City
Prices: Most items under $20, with designer pieces priced higher.
Sizes: Women's clothing, mostly sizes zero to 16.
Vibe: Owner Kate Kohler's eclectic shop is located inside a light yellow house with green shutters built by her husband's great-great-grandfather. The painted wood floors are covered with rugs. The shop gives off a boutique-y feel, with styled displays and a chandelier with dangling prisms and funky floral wallpaper upstairs.
"Casual clothes are really our speciality -- tops, pants, denim, cute dresses ...," Kohler said. "Those are what sells for us."
She looks for one-of-a-kind items, unique accessories and clothes. A colorful belt decorated with a USA flag and Route 66 sign was among a stash of waist cinchers.
"We want things that are a little different than... anybody else," she said. "Special items, that when you are out people ask, 'Where did you get that?'"
Kohler mostly stays away from ultra-formal pieces and career wear. The shop carries semi-formal attire, like a size 12 belted black cocktail dress by Apostrophe with the original tags still attached. The shop also features home decor items such as plates, pictures and pillows.
Sample find: Pair of brown Nine West heels for about $8.50, white peasant blouse with black embroidery for $8.99, size 8 Relativity jeans for $16.99.
Good to know: A back room upstairs is for clearance items. Red lines on price tags mean the piece is half off.
Top Drawer Resale Clothier
Location: On Eighth Street near Garfield Avenue intersection in Traverse City.
Prices: Prices range, but a typical pair of jeans sells for $6 to $20.
Sizes: Women's clothing from zero through plus size; men's clothing.
Vibe: Top Drawer is a large store with a red awning outside and red carpet throughout most of the interior. Its sister stores across the street include a furniture and clearance center and Top Drawer Exchange, geared toward junior sizes, teens and young adults. There's a wide variety of styles and a big range of sizes from casual clothes (the shop already has "crop pants galore," said owner Sharon Carmean) to sparkly, floor-length prom gowns. Pants line one wall. There's racks for sweatpants, shoes and leather jackets.
"We do have quite a mix of consigners and shoppers, and word has definitely caught on, especially in this economy. And, we are finding people who have never shopped resaler or consignment before and now they are stopping in twice a week," Carmean said.
Sample find: Women's jeans in size 26 by Liz & Me for $13.95.
Good to know: The shop gets in several hundred new pieces each day, so it's worth it to stop by often.
Act II Consignment Shop
Location: 1603 Barlow St. in Traverse City
Prices: The shop's general rule of thumb is one-third of the retail cost.
Sizes: Women's clothing from zero to plus size.
Vibe: The shop prominently features its career wear -- suits, work separates and blouses -- at the front of the store. Formal wear takes up a side room that is stocked with more conservative, long-sleeved mother-of-the-bride looks, bridesmaid dresses and prom gowns such as a strapless, peach floor-length gown for $27. There are several other rooms filled with casual clothing and a small wall dedicated to hand bags. There are scarves, printed tops, shoes, fleece jackets and a rack of only vests.
"If you go to the other rooms, you'll find the jeans ... the casual clothes," said Manager Pamela Adams-Eakes. "At first glance, we look like we're more business-oriented."
Sample find: Chocolate brown Dana Buchman lightweight jacket with animal print lining for $36, size 2 Calvin Klein jeans for $12.
Good to know: The shop wants to offer something for younger and older customers. While it doesn't stock juniors' sizes, Adams-Eakes said shoppers can find "fun little T-shirts" and size zero jeans from popular teen brands.
Ebb Tide Resale Shop
Location: Off South Airport Road in Logan's Landing in Traverse City
Prices: Typically, a pair of jeans costs $3 to $10. Most shirts range from $1 to $6.
Sizes: Women's, men's and children's clothing in all sizes.
Vibe: Shopping here is like going on a treasure hunt. Bargain hunters will find everything from a collection of red hats to hospital scrubs to costumes. Oh, and everyday clothes as well.
"We try to accommodate every age and every style," said owner Diane Nevi, who acknowledged when she first started out she picked things she liked and would wear.
Now, she has broadened her selection to include formal dresses, maternity clothing, bras and shoes. Men's suits have a section. Teen brands Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister Co. are so popular that Nevi plans to start paying cash up front for those items.
"It sells like hotcakes the second it comes in," she said.
The poor economy has meant plenty of consigners -- the store's roster boasts nearly 5,700 -- "bringing in stuff to sell to make extra money," Nevi said. The challenge is to attract shoppers in this economic climate, too.
Sample find: Size 12 pale pink sleeveless J. Crew sundress for $12.99, medium size yellow button-up blouse with New York & Co. tags still attached for $12.99.
Good to know: Watch the store's Web site at www.ebbtideresaleshop.com for monthly specials. The shop also stocks Avon products and home items.