When it comes to apparel, Wyandotte's Gena Conti, owner of , has some advice for all savvy shoppers.
“Pay attention to fabrics and labels” as not everything is washable and you end up spending more on dry cleaning, etc. than the product is worth, she said.
It also pays to come prepared, she said.
"Always carry a tape measure in your purse and keep a size chart and family sizes in your wallet for quick reference," Conti said.
Carol Marshall of Bloomfield Township almost never pays more than a few dollars for anything, including shoes, purses, dresses – you name it.
“I don’t think I’ve paid more than $5 for anything for a really long time,” notes one of Metro Detroit’s sharpest — and savviest — dressers. “Even if something’s marked, like $5, I usually will have a coupon for 50 percent off.”
Marshall, a regular volunteer at and the , both in Birmingham, is a veritable professional thrift-store shopper.
On a recent weekday morning, the polished and poised Marshall was adorned in a chic pink, black and floral ensemble that evoked a sunny field of posies amid sticks of strawberry and black licorice.
“Everything I have on today came from Value World,” the perky Marshall said. “I like the one on Telegraph in Pontiac, north of M-59. I get their half-price coupons in the paper every couple of months so I can usually buy more than one item.”
She also shops at the Salvation Army – usually in Keego Harbor or Auburn Hills, depending on where she’s running errands. “When it’s on my path, I stop,” she said. She also enjoys Sam’s Club, Costco and the Dollar Store.
Marshall, a self-proclaimed clothes hound, says she’s been an astute clothing shopper for about 25 years. “I’ve always been a bargain shopper. I love clothes and I don’t want to spend a lot,” she said.
Marshall volunteers at art show openings at the BBAC and for various events and functions at The Community House and is always impeccably pulled together. “When people give me compliments and I tell them the history of a piece, they can’t believe it,” she says. “At these events, I’m ironically surrounded by people in expensive outfits.”
Her get-ups come from the world’s fashion houses, too, including Chanel, Stuart Weitzman and St. John; it’s just that Marshall’s apparel is “gently used.” “I don’t buy things that are worn to the seams. But I do buy things that might need a fixed zipper, a hem job or a glue-on faux gem or something.”
Other tips from shoppers around Metro Detroit who enjoy a bit of “cheap chic” now and again:
- Check out in Wyandotte. — Gena Conti
- “The has a shop in Berkley that’s a little gem with designer clothes.” Beyond women’s designer clothes, there are also vintage fashions as well as men’s and children’s clothes, accessories, jewelry, handbags and shoes. — Suzanne Krueger of Troy
- “Consignment and thrift shops can be a great place to purchase a wedding gown, which are generally worn once, so you'll find them to be gently used — nothing the dry cleaner cannot handle.” — Caroline von Weyher, owner of Von Haus interior design firm, Birmingham
- “My favorite consignment/thrift shops in Oakland County are and the Shop in Birmingham.” — Caroline von Weyher, owner of Von Haus interior design firm, Birmingham
- “Deja Vu in Franklin (ladies’ upscale resale) is a little hidden gem. — Sheri Lussier of Birmingham, and hair stylist at in Birmingham
- “I consider myself a budget queen. I came by this naturally, as my mother either made my clothes or purchased them from the Salvation Army. I have sold items at mom-to-mom sales (she has five children). I appreciate the value to be obtained from reusing and renewing items. I have enjoyed Regeneration (Pleasant Ridge and ), Bellocchio and the , all in Royal Oak. The cliche ‘one man's junk is another man's treasure’ is so true.” — Penny Luebs, mayor of Clawson
- “Value World (various locations in Metro Detroit) is our place of choice. I have purchased some wonderful designer adult clothing for under $2, and then get all kinds of compliments when I wear these pieces. It’s a great place to go for a growing teenage boy who needs a suit or sport jacket for a special, one-time occasion … like a dance. I have even found comfortable wool socks that have lasted a while for less than a dollar.” — Amy Fortin, owner, Your Personal Gardener, Birmingham
Share your favorite bargains
Where is your go-to store or thrift shop? Do you have a favorite item you got for a steal? Tell us in the comments below and share your photos by clicking on "upload photos" on the attached photo gallery.
For a list of some of Wyandotte's consignment shops, check out our Directory.