Americans sell possessions, buy used to cut costs

Thu Dec 18, 2008 6:55am EST
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By Andrea Hopkins

CINCINNATI (Reuters) - These days, when manager Trish Dollard shows up to work at a children's second-hand store, parents are waiting outside hoping to exchange their used toys, clothes and baby gear for a little extra cash.

"Every morning we open up these doors, people are there, lined up to the door," said Dollard, sweeping her hand at a snaking pile of used goods waiting to be appraised at the Once Upon A Child store in the Cincinnati suburbs.

Before the U.S. recession hit, Dollard might get 20 people a day bringing in toys and clothes to sell, and they could wait while workers inspected the goods and offered a price.

Now, with 80 or 90 sellers arriving every day, the boxes and bags of used items are stacked nearly to the ceiling, and parents wait a day or two to pocket the cash.

"You can tell people need money," said Dollard. "They don't buy anything until they see what they get for their stuff."

With the U.S. economy wallowing in recession and consumption grinding to a halt, stores that buy and sell used goods from clothing to gold are reporting a big boost.

Nine out of 10 resale stores reported an increase in customers in September and October, while 79 percent said they were seeing new sellers, according to a recent survey of 182 stores by the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops. Three-quarters of the stores said business was up by an average of 35 percent.

"It's attracted new people across the board," said Adele Meyer, executive director of the group, noting that while most retailers suffer during a recession, resale stores thrive.   Continued...

<p>A man chooses winter coats at a coat exchange in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, November 28, 2008. REUTERS/Brian Snyder</p>