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Mary Hunt is the award-winning and best-selling author of 23 books. She writes the Everyday Cheapskate column that appears in The Daily Journal.

Most retail stores are hanging on by a thread because of COVID-19’s assault on the U.S. economy, but thrift stores, specifically consignment stores, are having the opposite problem; business is booming. According to thredUP.com, a major secondhand shopping site, the resale apparel market will grow from $28 billion to $64 billion in the next five years.

A consignment store is a type of resale shop in which instead of relying on donations, people bring in items they wish to sell on the secondary market. When the items sell, the shop and seller share in the sale, often a 50-50 split. Consignment shops sell clothing, home goods, art, furniture and even books. However, apparel is the most popular category.

Consignment shopping is an excellent way to find bargains on gently used clothing and also sell gently worn children’s and baby clothes for less than one-third of the retail price. Most cities now have specialty consignment shops specifically for babies, children and teens.

Expect a consignment shop to have very high standards for what they will accept. For example: Clothes must be a current style; clothes must be brought in clean, and clothes must have no visible wear, holes or stains.

Typically, your items will be put on the sales floor and displayed for 30 to 60 days. Once sold, you will receive 30 to 50 percent of the purchase price depending on that store’s policy.

Most consignment shops have a process by which they reduce the sales price regularly until the item is sold or the time runs out. At that time, you have the option of either picking up your items or agreeing to have the shop donate them to a charity.

Stores often will give you the choice of taking your proceeds outright or crediting it to your own store account. Most people discover building their accounts to allow for shopping in the store is the best option. In this way, money rarely changes hands.

Have you ever paid a lot of money for an outfit only to find you don’t like it after all (Who hasn’t?) but then feel reluctant to part with clothes you paid a lot for and never wore for one reason or another? Consignment shopping solves the problem.

The first step is to let go of the guilt and get rid of the clothes. When you start buying your clothes at consignment stores, that guilt is never there. If you decide you don’t like something you bought, take it back and consign it. You didn’t pay much for it in the first place, and you can use the money you get from consigning it to buy something else.

If you don’t have a consignment store in your town, check out the nearest big city the next time you’re there. Even if you make a trip once or twice per year to clean out your closet, it will be worth the effort.

These days, there’s no reason you should feel compelled to spend a large percentage of your income on new clothes. Let your kids see all the great bargains at a consignment store. Even your teens will be impressed, provided you scope out the best stores ahead of time.

Mary invites you to go to EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at everydaycheapskate.com/contact, “Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”