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There are two types of people in the world: Those who only want clothes that are brand spanking new, and those who love to treasure hunt in consignment shops. If you’re in the latter group, or are thinking of jumping ship to it, fly or drive to Phoenix, Arizona — because nearby Scottsdale is consignment heaven.
The angels in this case are the beautifully-dressed women in America who ship their clothes to Scottsdale consignment shops ahead of their in-person visits. They’re most likely to come when the weather gets cold in their hometowns because Scottsdale is an outpost of sun, fun, swimming, resorts, golf, spas, and warmth. When they arrive in Arizona, they use the credit earned from sales of their clothes to buy other consignment clothes shed by women just like them. They sell, shop, sell, shop, recycle, ad infinitum.
The most well-known of the stores is My Sister’s Closet. It’s so successful that it has several branches, has been joined by My Sister’s Attic (for recycled home furniture), and has expanded to San Diego.
The store in Lincoln Village offers racks of Chanel, Prada, Marc Jacobs, and Jimmy Choo shoes (from $59 to $145); trendy 7 For All Mankind, J Brand, Mother, and Paige jeans that are scooped up by millennials; and designer clothes of every kind that are organized by category and sometimes by brand and regularly go on sale. In the general clothes category, for a few hundred dollars you can have an updated, refreshed wardrobe.
The atmosphere is convivial, the staff is uber friendly, and you can take 15 or more items with you into the dressing room.
High Society is another. Brands like Chico, St. John, and Misook make up the front room; the rest of the shop is divided by categories — like tops, pants, skirts, bags, shoes, and jewelry. Some of the items still have the tags on them, and they read Cache and Coach. As owner Pat Swinton says, “Just because something is previously owned doesn’t mean it was previously worn.”
You can score great bargains at High Society, like a St. John’s sweater jacket with a tank top for $140 (the woman who bought it whispered that it would be $1,200 new) or designer pants and tops for $25 each. There are frequent markdowns, the staff will advise you if you want some truly objective and honest input or help accessorizing, and many of the items are real steals.
Personal testimony: I gave a talk in my hometown of Santa Fe yesterday. My entire outfit — from the bold, splashy, geometric, black-and-white jacket dress to the black velvet palazzo pants — which I found at My Sister’s Closet and High Society, set me back about $60. I started getting comments about my clothes from the moment I entered the room.
Back to the Rack, in charming Old Town, Scottsdale, is a small shop with carefully selected items by designers like Oscar de la Renta, Armani, Capriccio, Escada, and Chanel. The prices are surprisingly good for such a high-profile location.
From there, it’s a short walk over to Robert Black, which features vintage clothing and modern accessories. Everything dates from the 1920s to the 1960s. You’ll find little black dresses and prom dresses, and cases of vintage jewelry — mostly rhinestone.
If vintage makes your heart sing, you’ve got two boutique options in Scottsdale within walking distance of each other: Robert Black and Vintage by Misty. This shop carries a highly curated collection of vintage clothes that come mainly from Europe and Israel. The owner’s husband is Israeli, and their familiarity with the country and the language gets her access to the best providers.
The shop has great character, with hats, boots, a fake cheetah-upholstered chair, and jewelry from the ‘30s to the ‘90s. The accessories are big sellers in the shop — the highest-end pieces by Chanel, Gucci, Dior, and Pucci, can be seen on the website FirstDibs.com.
A Second Look is not technically in Scottsdale; it’s a short drive away in Phoenix and is definitely worth the little detour. This superstore is so huge that you are unlikely to see everything in one visit. And there are also men’s clothes — like a gorgeously tailored English blazer on sale for $35 — that can keep your male friends occupied.
The clothes are arranged by category and by size, and they range from designer clothes to department store items. You can, quite literally, outfit yourself for a season for a few hundred dollars.
Be sure to call ahead before visiting any of the shops, because the hours may vary according to the season.
Judith Fein is an award-winning travel journalist, author, and speaker who lives in Santa Fe. Her website is www.GlobalAdventure.us.