Now that we’ve got that confession out of the way, let’s dive into the wonderful world of consignment shopping. There are lots of great options for buying second-hand clothing across our city – from charity-run shops to department stores to antique malls. But as an inveterate shopper, these five shops are my favourites because of consistent quality combined with fantastic deals.
Consignment shopping is the way to go if you like to find unusual pieces, classic tailoring, or a really (really) good deal.
After all, clothing doesn’t have to be expensive to look expensive.
1. Vespucci (12529 102 Ave): Vespucci is my favourite store in the city, only to be challenged for the spot of ‘best store in the world’ by its sister-store in Calgary. Amazing volume of great quality clothing, Vespucci takes more of a time investment than a financial one. Prices are anywhere from 10-30% of what you’d pay in first-run stores, and they only ever stock really excellent pieces. They also serve as a rack-end liquidator for high-end shops like Who Cares and Holt Renfrew, and you might get lucky with a piece with original price tags still attached, proving its ‘never-worn’ status. I once bought a $1200 four-piece suit for $60. You don’t always get those kinds of deals, but with their generous discounts on sale items, it’s possible to walk away with treasures for next to nothing. As a professional shopper, I frequently take clients to Vespucci, and they always come away as converts.
2. Dress to Suit (12070 Jasper Ave): Dress to Suit is the Vespucci for men. Entirely devoted to men’s fashion, this store stoks the big names (like Hugo Boss, Armani, Calvin Klein, Dolce & Gabbana) for Tip Top prices. The store isn’t huge, but the selection is still generally excellent, and the staff is very knowledgeable. Of course, the challenge of consignment shopping is in sizing, and it’s always luck of the draw. But that’s why God invented tailors, right?
3. Caprice West (10630 170 Street): Similar to Vespucci in prices, this one caters to a bit more of a mature crowd, and has a pretty decent selection of plus size clothing, which is always a huge challenge in consignment shopping. They also have a fantastic selection of shoes and bags, not to mention some hard-to-find items like the amazing Sleevy-Wonders that can dramatically extend the life of a summer piece into fall and winter weather. They also are keen to host shopping parties and all kinds of special events, so it pays to get their email newsletter to help you stay in the loop.
4. Caprice South (3851 99 Street): Apparently these two stores used to share the same management, but are now run as individual stores, and their character is definitely different. Caprice South has a great selection of petite sizes, although they are certainly not limited to only serving smaller frames. A smaller shop than the others listed, Caprice South can be a great way to whet your consignment palate, as it’s not as overwhelming to dive into, but you can still solidly find some good deals.
5. Red Pony (8530 109 Street): Formerly on Whyte Ave, next to the Roots Building (and before that, as Robes and Relics on 83Ave), Red Pony now has a great new location close to the Running Room on 109 Street. This one definitely caters to a younger crowd, and has a good selection of funky vintage pieces as well as quality casual gear. With stock for men and women, it’s a great place to go for original pieces with a cool vibe.