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Bring N Buy at 40: Thrift for fashionistas

Mother and daughter Patti Murphy and Tina Hassenstein have been in business together since 1993. —Jake Kara photo

One thing that goes with every outfit is a low price tag.

That’s been the winning combination for Bring N Buy consignment shop for four decades now. Even as the economy has slowed, the business has fared well.

“To buy a second-hand Gucci bag for $500 when someone paid three grand for it — that’s a deal,” said Tina Hassenstein.

The store on Route 35, Danbury Road, near the intersection with Route 7 opened in 1972, and Ms. Hassenstein’s mother, Patti Murphy, bought it in 1985.

In 1993, Ms. Hassenstein, who ran her own, more designer-oriented, shop just up the road, joined up with her mother. She stepped up the store’s selectiveness.

“She got the whip out,” said Ms. Murphy.

They only accept clothes made by a select list of designers.

Ms. Hassenstein picks up a Theory blouse with the tag still on it. It was marked $285.

“We’re charging $70 and we’ll get $70,” Ms. Hassenstein said.

In 2003 they eliminated men’s and children’s clothes, focusing on women’s clothes and accessories, including handbags and jewelry.

“Men wear their stuff for too long and it’s tattered,” said Ms.  Hassenstein. “It’s expensive to carry men’s stuff. Women are more frequent shoppers — they kind of have a better idea of what they want.”

As the economy has slowed and other businesses have suffered, Bring N Buy has done well.

“I think one thing that changed with the economy is the type of customer that we attract,” Ms. Hassenstein said.

“That ‘secondhand’ stigma is over,” Ms. Murphy said.

The clothes move fast, one way or another. When people bring clothes in, they stay on the racks 60 days.

“Most times they’re reduced after being here for a couple of weeks. That’s a big selling point to our customers,” Ms. Murphy said.

One thing they don’t do to move clothes is haggle.

“We’re turned off by that because it’s already a very reasonable price,” Ms. Hassenstein said.

When clothes do sell, the owner and the store split the price. If they don’t sell, the owner can pick them up or the store will donate them.

They donate to a number of charities, including The Bridge for Independence and Career Opportunities (TBICO) in Danbury, an organization that provides business clothes for women entering the workforce.

At the summer, they have a big sale and clear out the store, and close down for three weeks. When they come back, the racks fill up again.

“There’s always people waiting for us when we come back,” said Ms. Murphy.

Bring N Buy also does free home pickups, and about five years ago they started offering closet rearranging.

“We make a charity pile, we make a consignment pile and we make a keeping pile,” Ms. Hassenstein said.

“I don’t push anybody to get rid of stuff. I just say, that does not work, that does not work. … I’m not a good therapist. I think I could use a little of that myself, so I would never try.”

Bring N Buy is at 590 Danbury Road.

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