Secondhand shopping is not only economical, it's recycling. Here are some tips for negotiating thrift stores:
¢ Follow the money. The merchandise reflects the community where consignors and donors live. If it's an upscale neighborhood, you'll get high-end clothes, just like you'll get more warm-weather merchandise somewhere warm.
¢ Be an early bird. "My key tip is to shop early in the season," says Laurie Perren, owner of four consignment stores in Connecticut and New York. "The best fashion people turn over their wardrobe early - March is when they're bringing in their stuff from last season. They've already filled their closet with spring '08."
¢ Spend more. This might sound paradoxical, but the bigger-ticket items often represent better deals. "More expensive things are the best bargains when you're thinking about the percentage off retail," Perren says.