Millersville consignment shop targets newfound frugality among consumers ANNE ARUNDEL BUSINESS

October 15, 1992|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Staff Writer

Outside the Millersville shop, a sign reads "Consignment." Bu inside, nothing hints of the old or the used.

Again & Again Kids Consignment smells of fresh paint and new carpet. A colorful border lines the top of the walls. Clothes hanging from the racks have no stains, holes or worn spots.

Most of the clothes have been worn before, though. And that's just fine with Linda Higdon.

"I don't buy anything new anymore," said the Millersville resident, a consignment shop junkie and mother of two boys, ages 10 and 4.

In August, Severna Park resident Lynn Hentschel, who has spent seven years selling retail clothing, opened the store in Northway Shopping Center to deal exclusively in children's clothing, toys and furniture. Again & Again is the newest tenant at the Old Mill Road and Veteran's Highway center, which is anchored by Basics Food Store, Trak Auto, Rite Aid, Subway and Little Caesar's.

The shop pays 50 percent of retail value for clothing in good condition -- no stains, holes or missing buttons. Customers pay about half of what they'd pay for new clothes, often for brands such as Osh Kosh, Carter, Healthtex, Doespun and Levi.

Ms. Hentschel, who also has 20 years of accounting experience, started the venture after reading a magazine feature about consignment shops. At first she stocked the 1,890-square-foot space with clothing she bought directly from people who'd answered a newspaper ad for used clothing.

She has gotten so much clothing -- sizes 0 to 14 for everyone from newborns to label-conscious teen-agers -- that she had to rent more storage space. The store also buys and sells cradles, bassinets, strollers, walkers, high chairs and Fisher Price toys.

Ms. Hentschel's daughter, Niki Hiner, manages the store that at times has drawn up to 50 customers a day.

"In the '90s, recycling is the thing to do," Ms. Hentschel said. "This is not a new idea, but it's got a lot of public appeal due to the economy."

Mrs. Higdon has come in many times to sell clothes her children have outgrown. Then she buys larger sizes, for about half of what she'd pay for new clothes. She's getting ready to sell off last year's unwanted Christmas toys and buy another batch for this Christmas.

At Again & Again, she even has found larger clothes for her older boy, in sizes not always readily available in most consignment shops, she said.

Mrs. Higdon said she has saved enough at shops like Again & Again -- a handful of which exist in Anne Arundel County -- to quit a full-time job, eliminate hefty day-care expenses and become a stay-at-home mother.

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