The Difference Between Consignment and Thrift

A common question we receive from our customers is: “What is the difference between consignment and thrift stores?” We, Collected Boutique (formerly The Closet Shop), are a consignment store – not a thrift store.

As a preface, we love shopping used! And that includes thrifting.

Although easily confused since they can sometimes serve similar purposes, there are several distinct differences between them.

Let’s dive right in!

The Fundamentals

To begin with, thrift stores run on donations, so the items they sell are distinctly different from consignment in a few ways.


Thrift stores accept any brand, so you never know what you’ll come across. On the same rack, you might find Forever 21 next to Louis Vuitton pants (true story!).

Consignment stores only take in specific items based on the interests of their customers. For example, one consignment store might specialize in high-end luxury brands, and another might specialize in children's clothes.


Thrift stores accept items as is, which means you might find stains and other deterioration. If you don’t mind taking the time to clean your items and possibly repair them, thrifting is the way to go!

Consignment stores only accept clothes that are in good to like new condition. At Collected Boutique, our consignors must bring in freshly laundered clothes and shoes with clean bottoms. This way, our shoppers feel comfortable knowing their new item is ready to wear.*


While many thrift stores operate as non-profits, knowing which charities they donate to is important. Many national, non-profit thrift stores are not operating at a local scale, which means your money isn’t going back to the local economy. Also important to note is that not all thrift shops are non-profit.

When you shop at small consignment shops, your money goes back into the local economy and helps your neighbors since the profit earned on each item sold is split between the store and the owner of the item.

The Latest and Trendiest Fashion

Since thrift stores operate on donations, items will sit in the store for extended periods of time. If you shop often (hello, retail therapy!), you might see the same stuff over and over again.

At Collected Boutique, items are taken in on a rolling, seasonal basis, with a 60-day selling period. This means you will frequently see new, in-season attire and accessories. We also keep an eye on the latest trends, and let our consignors know to bring in specific items if they have them.


When buying from thrift stores, you never know what you’ll find. This can mean finding knock-offs. Identifying real luxury items is a skill that not everyone has or has time to learn. A study cited by the U.S. Department of Commerce found that in 2019, 26% of U.S. consumers unknowingly bought at least one counterfeit product.

Consignment stores have to guarantee authenticity. Selling fake items can be detrimental to businesses, between fines and potential closure. At Collected Boutique, we use Authenticate First to guarantee authenticity.

Let's Shop Used: Thrifting and Consignment

Whether you thrift or shop consignment, you can’t go wrong! Much like a treasure hunt, you never know what exciting clothes and accessories you’ll find.

Plus, we believe it is almost always better to buy used. Let’s do our part in keeping clothes out of the landfill and not support fast fashion conglomerates!

*Disclaimer, we always recommend that our patrons clean any purchases before wearing/using them.

Back to blog