Why consignment, Melanie?

If you have a growing family and you live in Fort Kent, Maine, you've probably (hopefully) stopped by Little Daniel's Den to shop for your little ones. Or not-so-little ones.

My goal is that when customers come into my shop, they forget that the majority of my inventory is pre-owned. I try to create a fun, boutique atmosphere - welcoming for patrons of all ages (and heights) to enjoy and explore. I want all of my "Friends Of The Den" to feel pride in finding high quality clothing for their families without breaking the bank.

A happy, little Friend Of The Den tries on some super cozy monkey pajamas at Little Daniel's Den.

Some of my customers have asked why I sell clothes on consignment rather than sell new lines of children’s clothes and maternity wear. Keep on reading this blog and I'll probably (hopefully) answer that question for all of you - and share my mission statement at the same time. (Click on this link to learn more about consigning at Little Daniel's Den.)

For those of you unfamiliar with the St. John Valley, which is where I live and where the Little Daniel's Den brick-n-mortar is located, there is something you should know about this neck of the woods: there are very few places locally to buy clothing of any type.

Why? I am not an economic expert, but I suspect a lot of it boils down to geography. U.S. Route 1, which spans the nation's eastern seaboard, begins/terminates in Fort Kent. "America's First Mile" stretches across downtown Fort Kent before travelers can either continue onto the beauty of the northern Maine woods and the Allagash or take the international bridge connecting Maine to New Brunswick. Yes, nearby Canadian towns offer shopping opportunities, but crossing the border with imported items can be difficult and expensive because of tax laws.

As much as we all try to promote shopping locally and support small businesses, ordering online gives Valley families a chance to purchase hard-to-find products from companies that can afford to sell at low prices - thereby making it near impossible for local merchants to sell comparable items competitively without going out of business.

Maternity clothes are near impossible to find within a 100 mile radius state-side, and the selection is sadly quite limited for what is available in children’s wear. The downside to ordering online or from catalogs is that we cannot try things on to see if they fit before we purchase. To go anywhere with decent shopping options without crossing the border into Canada, we Valley folk have to travel three to five hours south to purchase most of the clothes we need.

I'm sure you can already see why I opened this store - whether it be used or new items for sale. Need.

So. Why not sell all new items? Here are three big reasons why I decided to sell clothing on consignment.

1| CHOICE | By accepting clothing from many different consignors - all who have had to search high and low for name brands and quality - I ensure that my customers have a WIDE selection from which to choose.

Not only are they more likely to find something that not only matches their size, but their style - they’re also less likely to see others wearing the same thing. We are a small community. If I only sold new clothes, I could only afford a limited number of options in a clothing line - guaranteeing that many people would end up sending their kids to school all wearing the same thing.

2 | QUALITY CONTROL | We make sure the clothes we do sell at Little Daniel’s Den are in excellent condition. Some have only been worn once or twice - and there are quite a few with their original tags still attached! Just because an item is new in a store does not necessarily mean it is better than something second-hand. (Here's an example: When it's -25F outside, would you rather your kid be in a new, yet cheaply made, snow suit or a second-hand snow suit from LL Bean or Burton or Columbia?) Instead of throwing items away or forgetting about them in a tote in the attic, our consignors help other families clothe their kids. And then - as long as the clothes are still in good shape - they can be sold yet again once they’re outgrown!

When people inquire about consignment, I encourage them to share their hand-me-downs with friends and family - or donate to the thrift shop in town, which helps fund the local food pantry. But, if they are in need of extra spending cash...

3| MONEY DOESN'T GROW ON TREES | Selling their clothes on consignment helps families with groceries, bills, or to buy more clothes!

It helps my business, but it also helps the community. Most of my consignors don’t have the spare time to run a garage sale or post items online. I do all the work for them. I have some consignors who have consistently earned significant money every month... enough to make a difference in their lives. While those numbers d