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      New resale store buys clothes, gives cash

      Consumers are trading in their old clothes and buying something new - at least to them.

      The recession has seen department store sales tumble across the nation. But that hasn't been the case with resale stores where business has been up, in some cases by as much as 25 percent.

      At New Beginning, a Columbia consignment store, business is up 20 percent.

      "We have new things coming in every day during the height of the season," said Cheryl Guthrie, the store's owner. "Maybe 50 to 100 new things coming in every day."

      Here's how it works: You bring in your old stuff, they resell it and give you back 45 percent of the sale.

      Indeed, resale stores are a good way to find designer clothes, without the designer price. At Plato's Closet - Columbia's newest resale store - we found a men's Nike jacket for just $8 and a $35 dress, never been worn, going for $14.

      "You can get a pair of jeans anywhere from $8 to $18," Lauren Strain, manager of Plato's Closet, said to a customer.

      Columbia has over a half dozen resale or consignment shops. Plato's Closet is the newest and although they're not officially open, business has been good. Right now they're in the process of buying brand name items, which will be resold next month when they open.

      The store's manager says they're paying 30-35 percent of what they'd charge for an item - a good deal for those who don't need the clothes anymore.

      "I brought in a bunch of my old polos, some stuff that didn't fit," said Jessica Bullock. "I got like $25 bucks."

      Most of the clothes getting ready to be sold have barely been worn. In fact, some still have their original price tags. Strain says the economy's played a "huge role" in bringing in new customers.

      The downside: resale stores are often picky with what they take. We tried bringing in a bag of older clothes and were told they weren't in style.

      Plato's Closet is still buying slightly worn, name brand clothes. They plan to open sometime in mid-June.

      "It's been a pretty big madhouse in here today," said Strain. "Everyone needs money right now. So they're coming in to sell the things they're not wearing anymore."