Local shops see surge in business after pandemic lockdown inspires wave of home cleanouts


MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) — During the pandemic lockdown, everybody was cleaning out their basements, closets, and garages. Then, when the lockdown got lifted, everybody needed a place to take all of that stuff. That is when certain businesses got very busy. One such business is “Your Closet or Mine,” a consignment shop in Middletown.

“So they come in, they want to get rid of stuff they haven’t used,” explained owner Lexie Conlin. “We set up an account and then items sell. They receive a check or they can use it for store credit.”

Conlin’s daughters, Marisa and Tori, along with her friend Linda Kestenbaum, make up the staff. For two full months in the spring, they had to close. When they opened back up, things got intense.

“Completely overwhelmed,” Conlin said. “In a good way.”

That is because people spent those months sorting, cleaning, and wanting to get rid of stuff. They found many charities were no longer taking donations. Those parking lot bins were removed or overflowing. That brought in a flock of new customers to Your Closet or Mine.

“There are people: ‘I’ve driven by, but I’ve never stopped,'” said Kastenbaum. “And then they stop, and I say, ‘Are you coming back?’ They say, ‘Yes, I’m coming back and I’m bringing my family with me.'”

“Sometimes they’ll come in and they don’t know exactly what consignment is until we tell them about it, and by the next week we get them coming in with stuff,” said Marisa Conlin.

At a time when everyone is concerned about other people’s germs, the store has taken new precautions.

“When items do come in, we do quarantine those items,” said Lexie Conlin. “They get put aside before we go through them.”

For some consigners, it is not just about cleaning the house. They need the money at a time when millions have lost their jobs.

At the same time, if you need clothes or boutique items, thrift or consignment shops are very affordable. Your Closet or Mine even has horse riding gear.

“Everything is at least half the price of what you can buy it new,” said Tori Conlin. “You can’t really find this anywhere else.”

Even if you’re not in the market for something right now, they are talking about a second wave of COVID-19 possibly shutting everything down, so maybe think about things you might need in the months ahead.

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