“Whoever said money can’t buy you happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping.” Although it is more likely than not that Bo Derek has never visited lovely L-A, Maine, much less shopped at Raggamuffins and Helios Quality Consignments, surely she was referring to these delightful shops when she made this declaration.

Raggamuffins in Auburn is owned and operated by Heidi Hilton. This family-run business, whose motto is “Great Clothes at a Great Price,” sells quality pre-loved clothing and accessories at prices that will fit perfectly into anyone’s budget.

Hilton shared her guidelines regarding what she expects from her 2,200 plus consignors, including her requirement that every article of clothing be freshly washed, neatly folded, no more than two or three years old, free of stains and rips, have no missing buttons or broken zippers and absolutely free of odors and pet hair. Her rule is: “Everything by appointment, to put only the best on the floor.” Any article not meeting her strict guidelines is rejected. In return, Hilton offers her consignors and buyers an opportunity to “make money, save money and recycle.”

Raggamuffins has something to suit every size and taste, with styles ranging from casual jeans ranging from $7-9, and trendy “Aeropostale” fleeces and sweatshirts from $12-15, to clothing and accessories that are appropriate for any fashionable holiday gathering or other special occasion.

For the matriarch of your family, a fluttery mid-length black dress with a delicately beaded bodice by “Brilliant by J.A.” sells for only $39. Paired with black pumps by “Comfort First,” this entire outfit costs less than $45.

For the stylish mom or young adult, look for a “Work to Weekend” jacket in dark purple velour. Matched with a mid-length black wool skirt by “Chaps,” a soft black turtleneck by “Worthington,” a necklace and pretty butterfly pin, this ensemble came to only $35.50.

Complete holiday outfits for the little girl or boy on your list, including the shoes, averaging about $12, and for the special young lady, a classic full-length deep red satin and velour dress, complete with a faux pearl necklace, stylish “Hush Puppy” heels and a lovely black beaded clutch (with a matching lipstick case) – make her feel like million dollars for only about $50.

Of course, we can’t forget dad who will look handsome and comfortable in his wool sweater by “Abercrombie & Fitch,” a classic cotton button-down shirt and dress slacks by “Banana Republic” – only $24 altogether.

And ahhhh, the accessories! From casual to fancy and with designers including Louis Vuitton, Vera Bradley and Jones of NY, ranging in price from $4 to $27.75, you’re sure to find a purse that will suit your style. Raggamuffins has a large selection of lovely jewelry pieces as well, including a glass dolphin pendant for only $10.

For affordable home furnishings and house wares, collectibles as well as other Christmas gifts from toys to jewelry, Helios is just up the road. In spite of opening only four months ago, Helios is filled with treasures to fill your home without emptying your wallet.

According to Ron Turcotte and Brian Breton, store manager and assistant manager, respectively, Helios’ arrangement with consignors is similar to Raggamuffins’ arrangement. Although at Helios, the price of each consigned item goes down by percentages according to how long it has been in the store – making frequent visits to Helios part of the fun.

Like Hilton, Turcotte and Breton also have strict standards with respect to the condition of objects that they will accept for sale. The result is an excellent selection of top quality items. Breton noted that “people love the concept” of consignment stores as they offer “a little bit of everything … something different every day … and good quality furniture at a good price.”

Helios has just begun putting together its Christmas displays, but already has many wonderful items that will delight your family and friends. Helios has items that can be explored online at www.heliosqualityconsignemts.com, or on e-bay.

For the little girl at heart, a lovely porcelain doll and wagon by Franklin Heirloom Dolls is available for just $85. What boy doesn’t love toy trucks, brand new and still in boxes, starting at $11.95.

An antique toboggan, made locally in West Minot, Maine, can be purchased for just $46.

Collectibles, such as Helios’ large assortment of Hummels start at about $80. Functional and decorative Longaberger baskets are less than $30 each.

For those who love to decorate for the holidays, adorable twin Christmas dolls at $27.95, Christmas village pieces ranging from $5-40, and a festive lighted ceramic peacock for less than $50, will lift your holiday spirit.

Helios’ home furnishings and works of art, including brilliant antique stained glass church windows and paintings, will provide comfort and inspiration to your home year round.

So friends, if you have an abundance of excellent taste, but find your budget a little tighter this holiday season, or if you just enjoy the thrill of finding a wonderful bargain or a beautiful antique or collectible, shopping at consignment stores will enhance your wardrobe, your home and your Christmas spirit, and maybe put something under the tree for someone you love, without breaking your budget this holiday season.

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