Consignment and resale shopping are fast becoming a favorite Cape pastime for locals and tourists alike.By Kathy Shiels Tully | Photography by Julia Cumes
Ask my two teenage daughters what they most enjoy doing when we’re visiting the Cape—whale watching, lighthouse hopping, kayaking—and the answer is almost always unanimous: consignment shopping. Falmouth or Provincetown (or some place in-between), it doesn’t matter. Instead of paying full price, they love the thrill of scoring a bargain they can boast about later to their friends.
Whether it’s due to the fallout from the 2008 economic downfall, the new minimalist movement, or pressure to recycle, a trail of consignment stores has popped up in recent years across the Cape—designer women’s clothing and accessories, furniture and home décor, vintage and children’s clothing and furnishings.
Regardless of category, the process is essentially the same. Sellers consign or hand over their gently used—and sometimes new—goods to the storeowner to sell at a fraction of the original cost. Sellers get a kickback from the store once their items sell, either in the form of cash or store credit. Store owners donate any abandoned items to local charities.
Consignment shopping, I find, is similar to an archeological dig. It offers a peek inside the lifestyles of the local people. Try these three stores for an insider’s look into the Cape and a good bargain hunt.
1705 Main St. (Route 28), Chatham
It’s hard to go to Chatham without making a pit stop here. Walking through two large rooms artfully arranged with coastal-style furniture and decorative accents, I envision how I would fill my dream beach house: Claire Murray rugs, comfy white couches, elegant but casual dining room sets, sea glass-colored lamps, original art, and assorted home and garden accessories, plus patio furniture. Basically, everything you’d find in a home. Maybe I could move right in?
At Home Again was started in April 2005 by four women—Donna Ritvo, Michaela Veachemin, Lisa Young and Janice Kurlychek—who are all fans of consignment themselves. Kurlychek also owns In My Travels, one of the Cape’s oldest women’s clothing consignment stores, located directly behind this store.
The foursome’s reputation for high standards on what they’ll accept means that there’s constant turnover. During a recent visit, there’s proof. Moments before I entered, a large delivery was made. The staff is scrambling to tag everything and find space. Bonanza! There’s a fresh stack of Claire Murray rugs in near perfect condition, piled up like pancakes. I go through them and find two I like, a small rug and a runner. “Let me price that for you,” one saleswoman says and affixes a red-rimmed tag to the smaller rug: “Initial price $89.” The second date price is $80.10; two weeks later, if still unsold, the final price is $71.20. The runner is tagged at $199. (The guideline is half of retail.) I debate buying the rugs. Will they still be here in two weeks? Do I dare wait? Or scoop it up now? I force myself to check out the other goods. There’s a wind chime that looks like new, a wall wine rack, and brand-new linen pillows ($50 each) with a beige-colored coral pattern. My imaginary beach house is almost filled. Why didn’t I bring a bigger car or a truck? I spot my dream white couch (initial price is $899), but there’s another, bigger tag: “SOLD.” My husband will be happy.
(Wicked Thrift’s Sister Store)
416 St. (Route 28), West Dennis
533 Route 28, W. Yarmouth
Sometimes it’s fun to consign stuff, but the waiting for your items to sell so you can receive money or credit back can seem to take forever. That’s where a place like the PopRock Vintage Shop comes in. It’s listed in brochures as “consignment,” but “we’re not,” says owner Tammy Venneri, who opened the funky store in 2012.
Here, Venneri buys items she wants outright. Unlike PopRock’s “big sister” store, Wicked Thrift in West Yarmouth (Venneri’s first and full consignment store), PopRock Vintage sellers either walk away with cash or store credit. “It’s called ‘trading’ versus ‘consigning,’ explains Venneri.
This is the kind of place my teen girls love, love, LOVE: It’s colorful, fun and clothes are in excellent condition. The best part? The average price is $12 per item. With only one price (no future markdowns), shopping is hassle-free.
A range of vintage items, all under $40, is perfect for a theme party, school play or special event. (Wear them once and sell them back!) All of the tags have funny sayings like “Janis would approve,” “Are you cool enough?” and “Don’t you want me, baby?”
Stealing the show are several very rare vintage pieces from the 1800s—dresses with bustled skirts in incredible condition, about $2,500 each. Check out the stash of crinolines (ask your grandma) from the 1950s: stiff, layered, knee-length petticoats used to fluff up a woman’s skirt. Tripping me back to the hip 1960s and ’70s are the “Laugh-In” style mini-dresses (ask your mother), which range from $25 to $40; polyester disco shirts with pointed collars, $15 apiece, with crazy, silky-satin swirling patterns (ask your father). Even more fun are the sexy “widow makers” (um, maybe keep walking), like the vintage Lady Marlene, an amazing bustier with boning and red piping ($35).
There’s a men’s section, too, so I may have to bring my husband and nephews back with me! PopRock Vintage Shop is also known as “Prom Central,” the largest prom dress resale shop on the Cape. This spring, about 350 of the 400 dresses in stock sold. I’m marking my calendar now for next year.
175 Route 137, East Harwich
220 Route 6A, Brewster
How can you go consignment shopping on the Cape without trekking to its largest one? Consigning Women in East Harwich, which opened its doors in 2005 and is open year-round, fills 7,000 square feet with women’s clothing, accessories, and to my surprise, home furnishings and décor. Their second location in Brewster fills 3,500 square feet.
Inside, a colorful row of Lily Pulitzer clothes tempt us, next to a Chicos-filled rack. My daughter hits the usual suspects: shirts, skirts, bathing suits, shoes, all on the left. I head to the right for furniture and home goods.
A pair of white wicker lounge chairs with ottomans, protected by green and white-striped oversize cushions ($225 each) catches my eye. Instantly, I’m back to decorating my dream beach house. I wonder: could I strap at least one to the top of my car? I scan a pair of 50-inch tall, floor-length, candle (or plant) stands with green glass sconces ($55 each). I find a Kennedy Studios-framed trilogy of the famous photos, “Phares dans la Tempete, La Jument” (“Lighthouse in a Storm, at La Jument”) by French photographer Jean Guichard. It’s only $32! I look around to see if anyone else has noticed this deal. It’s a real steal, even if you’re not lighthouse lovers like us. My dream screened porch is almost complete.
In the clothes section, I find labels of casual wear, including J. Crew, J. McLaughlin, and Ann Taylor, all which can be found on the Cape in retail shops, but at these prices? “We don’t have customers looking for really high-end stuff,” owner Mary Martin tells me. “People really don’t live like that on the Cape.” Clothing items sell for about one-third their original price. Markdowns are done after 20 days, then 40 days, “but usually move,” adds Martin.
While shopping, I hear a saleswoman chat with a consignor about what stuff has sold and what hasn’t. Ringing up my own finds, I’m told I can become one of 10,000 consignors. (Note to self: check the consigning guidelines.) I’m handed a tiny tan envelope. Inside is a “Comeback Bucks” coupon for $1. I’m hooked.
Eleven stores offer unique artisan pieces,
high-end furnishings and vintage clothing.
Gatherings by the Sea
Spend the day here among nine, yes nine, rooms full of fabulous finds, all vintage and antique.
601 Main St., Dennis, 508-694-7013
In My Travels
Located steps behind At Home Again, it’s one of the Cape’s longest-running consignment stores, selling women’s and men’s clothing, jewelry and accessories. Inspiration to many in the consignment business, many fans knew it as the “big yellow house” when it was originally located in Orleans.
1705 Main St., Chatham, 508-348-0100
Jaynie’s Consignment Shoppe
Another shop that seems to have it all: designer clothing, accessories, antiques, furniture and home décor.
85 Route 6A, Orleans, 774-316-4922
Penny Lane Consignment
With 19 years of business, there’s an extensive inventory that includes brands such as True Religion, Talbots, Kate Spade and Vineyard Vines, as well as shoes, handbags, home décor and furniture.
331 Cotuit Road, Sandwich, 508-888-1060
The Picket Fence
A store that offers an eclectic mix of home décor, furniture, vintage and handmade items, linens, men’s clothing, and a line of new women’s clothing. Picket Fence offers something for everyone.
834 Route 28, S. Yarmouth, 508-394-1200.
Rewind Furniture Consignment
High-end furnishings, fine art, antiques, and unique items like Persian rugs can be found here; ideal pieces to fill an elegant or eclectic space.
422 Main St., Falmouth, 508-548-5800
Simply Vintage of Cape Cod
This store specializes in fine and vintage home furnishings, painted furniture, new jewelry, gift cards and gifts.
1600 Falmouth Road, Unit 20, Centerville, 508-775-3569
St. Christopher’s Gift & Consignment Shop
Tucked behind the Orpheum Theater, this part consignment/part gift shop claims to be the best-kept secret in Chatham! Stop in and find out why. All profits benefit local outreach programs, so your purchase is supporting a cause.
637C Main St., Chatham, 508-945-2211
Trendy Tots: Children’s Apparel
Here you can find new and gently used designer children’s clothing for newborns to age 12, plus equipment and toys.
180 Teaticket Highway, E. Falmouth, 508-388-7891
Vintage in Vogue
Both locations stock vintage and antique ladies’ and men’s clothing and accessories.
Two locations: 237-241 Commercial St., Provincetown (inside Whaler’s Wharf), 508-246-2559, and 31 Main St., Orleans, 508-255-1826
A unique consignment store where you can find upscale clothing and accessories, including new items from local boutiques and one-of-a-kind artisan pieces.
121 Main St., Route 28, W. Harwich, 508-430-4100