Consignment a chic, environmentally friendly way to shop

by Betsy Herbert

published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel 8/20/13

Santa Cruz clothes shoppers who like to buy local and buy green are finding great value in the area’s consignment shops, each with its own style and specialty.

While most folks may choose to shop second-hand to save money, there’s no denying that buying re-sale clothing is a boon to the environment. Even clothes made from natural fibers take an environmental toll with all the dyeing, bleaching, and pesticide use. Approximately 1,500 gallons of water are required just to produce the cotton for one pair of jeans. Cotton production is responsible for 25 percent of all insecticides applied worldwide ( To make matters worse, some 21 billion pounds of apparel end up in landfills every year, according to a recent article in Time Magazine (“How U.S. Clothing Brands Are Getting Greener,” Eliana Dockterman 08/20/12).

“I think it’s fun to see clothes re-imagined,” says Kaylah Reeves, a part-time sales person at Twist, a popular shop on Pacific Avenue that features both consignment and new clothes. Reeves, an environmental studies major at UC Santa Cruz, says she enjoys the re-used clothing business because, “I’m not into blatant consumerism.”

The Ivy Company--on 41st Avenue in Pleasure Point--owned and managed by Eileen Begley for the last 15 years, deals in clothing and antiques from consignment, trade, and estate sales. “My customers are looking for things that are better quality and unique--not necessarily cheaper than they find in the malls,” says Begley. “They like buying used clothing because they’re shopping local, avoiding waste, and not paying for things to be shipped overseas.” The Ivy Company features both contemporary and vintage clothing.

The Clothes Cottage--on Capitola Avenue in Capitola--owned and managed by JoAnn McCullough since 1995, specializes in women’s contemporary clothing. The shop features a variety of well-known labels, specializing in handbags and cashmere. “Our clientele is very savvy as far as clothing goes. They know style and they know bands,” says McCullough.

Encore--on Scotts Valley Drive in Scotts Valley--has a large selection of contemporary women’s and men’s clothing. Fuse Consignment, a relative newcomer on Mt. Hermon Rd. in Scotts Valley, also sells men’s clothing, including quite a few Hawaiian shirts.

Jet Set Bohemian--in Aptos Village--owned by Rebecca Wickham since 1996, specializes in natural fiber consignment clothing, especially silk, cotton, cashmere, and linen. “We work with more than 200 consigners,” says Wickham, “and our business has been steady all along.”

Consignment shops are generally for-profit businesses that accept clothing from individual consignors, who later receive a percentage of the proceeds when the items sell. Consignment shops typically hand-pick clothing items to appeal to what their customers want. Consignment shops also donate unsold goods to thrift shops.

The Daisy Store, “an upscale resale boutique,” on 41st Ave. in Capitola accepts donated women’s clothing from individuals as well as from many local consignment shops. Run by the volunteer organization Daisy Auxiliary, The Daisy Store’s sales benefit Family Service Agency of the Central Coast.

Thrift stores generally accept only donated clothing, with the proceeds going to charity. While great bargains can be found in thrift stores, customers may have to spend a long time searching and the shopping experience can be challenging.

Santa Cruz has plenty of thrift stores, including the Salvation Army and the Goodwill. John Govsksy, an adjunct instructor at Cabrillo College, says he finds almost everything he needs at the Thrift Center on Front Street, where everyday, the sign says “TODAY everything is 50% off.”