Easy on your conscience and your wallet, these consignment stores offer bargain prices and bragging rights for great scores on clothes, shoes, handbags and more
BC certainly isn’t lacking in places where you can take your old clothes and handbags. Unlike Value Village, which is a dumping ground for three-legged chairs and size XXL I’m-With-Stupid T-shirts, consignment stores (theoretically) carefully curate the items they put on the racks.
A good consignment store offers a fair deal to both the person doing the consigning (usually 40% of the sale price) and the shopper.
And though shopping consignment is good for your conscience - "Consignment is the ultimate in mindful consumption," as one website tells us – it's even better for bragging rights, as a cursory look at Yelp reviews for one of the stores on this list shows ("The $15 jeans are my find of the summer!").
Here are eight of the best consignment stores in BC. Did we miss your favourite? Let us know!
Changes Clothing & Jewellery Bar (Vancouver)
Changes features mid- to high-end labels, including couture, shoes, boots, shawls, scarves, premium sunglasses and accessories, and a jewellery bar that is made up of handmade designs by local and Canadian designers.
Store owner Rhonda Davis tells us that Changes hosts 12-14 events a year, including two major fashion shows. "We have new arrivals daily of new and like-new mid to high-end labels for women."
Bon Retour (Vancouver)
This Marpole shop offers a selection of what its website calls "gently used designer brand clothing for women," including apparel from big names like Gucci, Max Mara, and Donna Karan.
Now in its 25th year, Bon Retour also has new stuff as well as pre-owned bling, handbags, shoes, and, for the rocker and direct-from-L.A. shopper, embellished jean jackets.
Turnabout (Vancouver & Surrey)
The devil might have bought her Prada at this store, where brand names like Chanel, Armani, and St. John share rack space.
After over 30 years in the business, Turnabout has a client list of 13,000 consignors. Downside: some Yelpers complain it’s a bit pricey. But Christie S. writes: "You will think you’ve died and gone to rich-people’s-castoffs heaven."
Grand Central Consignment (New Westminster)
One size does not fit all, and Grand Central - voted Best Consignment Store in New West seven years running - lives up to its name by specializing in clothes for women sized 10-32.
Yelp reviewer Catherine W. writes that it's "almost as heavenly as Sephora" (high praise indeed) and that the change rooms are a "delight." She also says: "All in all, this is the best consignment/second hand store I have ever been in."
Grand Central provides a robe so you don’t have to get dressed again to shop some more after trying things on.
Across-the-board raves on Yelp for this West Broadway clothing store include one from Jennifer M. who writes that it’s the only thrift store where she’s "consistently been able to grab a knockout cocktail dress or snag an edgy office shirt and skirt… You can easily snag a killer dress for under $60."
Lauren N., an Elite Yelper, says "Shine is one of the best consignment clothing shops in Vancouver, hands down!"
According to its site, the store specializes in "eclectic finds from the orient, well picked one-of-a-kind consignment items and funky local samples."
A La Mode (Victoria)
You'll find labels such as Armani and Zara, shoes and boots and, according to this Victoria store's website, its "handbags, purses and clutches satisfy the most discerning Fashionista."
Victoria blogger Anita, aka scrimporsplurge.ca, writes that she was impressed with the shop’s "boutique-style layout and comfortable change rooms. There are two display walls stocked with fashionable shoes… and a section of really high-end designer wear. If you need genuine formal wear, you can dress to impress in pieces from Chanel, Prada, and more from A La Mode."
Front and Company (Vancouver)
This Main Street standby offers women's, men's, baby and kids clothes, plus novelty items like Freudian slippers (slippers in the shape of, yes, Sigmund Freud) and home accessories.
"Quirky, trendy, vintage-looking stuff" writes one reviewer, Terris S.; "the mother of all consignment stores," writes Juliane S., who also says "Nothing beats paying $80 for pairs of Habitual or Paige Premium skinny jeans."