Consignment Conundrum: Is it worth buying brand new every school year?

BBB looks at the popularity and potential pitfalls of second-hand shopping
August 12, 2014

August 12, 2014 - CALGARY, ALBERTA - With Statistics Canada reporting the average Canadian household spends $1,200 on education each year*, some parents of the more than 650,000 students heading back to school in Alberta this fall are turning to consignment stores to try and save some money. While some swear by the second-hand store, BBB cautions back to school shoppers to know what to expect before hitting the used racks.

Calgary mom Tara Adams says consignment shopping is a great alternative for parents who are looking to save some extra cash while the back-to-school shopping season begins. "I'd say we've save at least $2,000 a year by shopping consignment," she says. "Consignment is great for things like snow suits, boots or other seasonal clothes that kids need for school." Of course financial savings may come at the cost of convenience. "The only downside is that there may not be the size of shoes that you want at the time that you need them," says Adams.

Krista Hopfauf, owner of BBB-Accredited Better on You and Rewind Clothing consignment stores, says there is a method to savvy consignment shopping. "To be a pro at consignment shopping means understanding that it's not a one-stop-shop," she says. "It's going to take time to sift through the racks to get to know how the store organizes its inventory and find what you're looking for."

When it comes to quality merchandise, Hopfauf says it's important to understand the difference between thrift shops and consignment stores. "Consignment stores pre-select their items based on quality, originality and re-sale value, while thrift stores generally don't pre-select their items," she says

Sandra Crozier-McKee, president and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay, says it does take some schooling to become a conscientious consignment shopper. "Consignment shopping does take some extra research and understanding to make sure you're spending wisely," she says. "Return and negotiation policies may differ from store to store so it's best to be clear about policies before making a purchase."

*Statistics Canada Back to School by The Numbers report 

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Media Contact:
Leah Brownridge, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay
(403) 531-8793 or

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