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Andrea's column: Lesson learned

What do you do with the clothes you no longer wear? Not the pieces you push to the back of the closet because they went out of style in the 90s. I'm talking about the stuff that still looks good but no longer fits.

This spring, as my husband and I cleaned closets, we found some of those types of items. I suggested taking them to a consignment store. "A lot of people do that," I told him. "Maybe we can make some money."

My husband offered to take everything to the place I chose. He came home with a list of the items and the price they would charge for each. The store's website address, our account number and password, too. We would be able to track the items to see what had sold and how much money we had made. Certainly it would be more than the tax savings we got by donating things to a charitable organ-ization. And a lot more than I ever made with a garage sale.

"Never again," I said after the last garage sale I had. "Too much work for too little profit," That was after a customer haggled with me over the price of a comforter and bed skirt to the point where I almost paid him to take it off my hands.

That's why, whenever I see a homemade placard posted on a street corner advertising a garage sale, I cringe. These signs remind me of the times I was full of enthusiasm for all the money I would rake in when a customer went gaga over the knickknacks I no longer loved or the clothes my children had outgrown. Times when, the sale over, I boxed up leftovers and needed only a tiny envelope for my meager profit.

I'd like to tell you I made a small fortune selling my clothes through the consignment store. Not so. The summer ones went to half-price not long after my husband dropped them off. Winter clothes, I learned, wouldn't be put out until later. Our share of what sold went to $56 and stayed there.

When I got my hair cut last month, my stylist told me about a charity event at her church. They were in need of gently-used women's clothing. I had just what she needed. My husband offered to pick up our check and the items that were left at the consignment store. I offered to call the establishment and ask them to pull our clothes.

That service wasn't in the contract my hubby signed. He would be the one to scour two floors, rack after rack after rack, trying to match descriptions and item numbers on a sheet of paper to the ones on price tags.

He enlisted the help of a manager when two items could not be found. She sent him off to run his other errands and said they would keep looking. I called and asked if it could have been stolen. "It happens," the woman said. I wondered if I should call the police.

There's something to be said for the ease of shoving clothes you don't wear to the back of your closet. No marking tiny price tags, no saving receipts for the tax preparer. No wild goose chase for a man who doesn't like to hunt.