Believe it or not, there’s more to do in Madison than buy food and watch overpriced movies. The city is full of little stores, hiding away just waiting to be discovered. For those who love nothing more than finding a good bargain, the consignment shops around town are the perfect place to spend a few hours on the weekend. Before you start humming about popping tags, it’s important to draw a distinction between consignment stores and thrift shops. Most importantly, thrift shops are usually non-profit and/or affiliated with a local charity. Additionally, the items in a thrift shop are donated, and they tend to be cheaper. Consignment shops screen the incoming items for quality, and the original owner is paid 40 percent of the profit on any items sold. The important similarity is that both kinds of store offer good clothing for significantly lower prices.
As for the consignment shops in Madison, some of them cater to highly specific clientele (Kids’ Consignments, just down the block from the movie theater, deals exclusively in children’s clothing and toys), and others are a little more general. The shop closest to Drew is NEW LEAF Consignment, on Park Avenue a couple stores up from Dewey’s Comic City. NEW LEAF may not be the largest of the consignment shops in town, but it is one of the highest quality. It only carries women’s clothing, but it can still be a good shopping place for anyone. On first inspection, the shop looks almost like a small department store. The clothing is arranged according to type and color, making it very easy to locate and coordinate outfits. And surprisingly, the items are all very high-quality. Brand names like Seven for all Mankind, Michael Kors, Armani, Citizens of Humanity and Dolce & Gabana abound. Granted, some of the high-end handbags still cost several hundred dollars, but it’s also possible to find brand-name jeans for 20 dollars or less.
According to NEW LEAF’s owner, Arleen J. Gaetani, the shop frequently serves the theatre departments of the local colleges. “Our staff is very knowledgeable about period fashion, and the colleges really appreciate our advice,” she said. People also come in for costume parties, especially around Halloween, and for specialty items like boots and hats. Moreover, many of NEW LEAF’s staff have fashion backgrounds. This can be very helpful to customers who aren’t very well informed about contemporary fashion. “Most of the college girls who come in here already know exactly what they’re after,” Gaetani added, “but for people who are shopping for their friends or family, our staff’s advice is great. Once people come in once, they can’t get enough.” And even though all of the clothing is for women, men can take advantage of the shop’s great prices, whether they are buying gifts for the women in their lives or some music or literature for themselves. There is an assortment of jewelry, accessories and even a few CDs and novels to choose from.
One of the best things about NEW LEAF is their continuously decreasing prices. Once an item has been in the store for two weeks, it is discounted 10 percent. Two more weeks, and it is discounted by 25 percent. If six weeks pass and the item is still on the rack, it is discounted by 75 percent. And while NEW LEAF is not a non-profit organization, it still benefits the community. Once the clothes have been in the store for 61 days, they’re donated to charities or shelters in the area. Additionally, all donations can be written off as tax deductible. Great prices, great quality, ties to charitable organizations and to top it off, there are Dum-Dums at the counter. And who doesn’t love Dum-Dums?