I fondly remember my first experience with a consignment store. It was in the early 90’s and a girlfriend and I (whom I was working part-time nights with at a clothing store with 40% employee discounts!) had taken a ride to one that was being mercilessly advertised on the radio. We destashed our closets of clothes (erm, some still with price tags on them), shoes, handbags, etc. and brought them there. A month later, we both gasped at the check being handed to us.
Consigning still-in-good-condition clothes, accessories and home goods is a great way to find passive income. And let’s face it – no one will turn away an opportunity for that. Part of finding balance for me is to begin getting out from under ‘stuff’ that has been suffocating my closets, shelves and drawers. Although there are other options such as Craigslist, eBay and tag sales, I much prefer consignment stores as I don’t have to worry about posting photos, check bidding wars, boxing up and shipping or haggling with someone over a price. I make an appointment, walk in with my stuff, hand it over and walk out.
So set aside an hour or two to go through closets, drawers, basement, garage – wherever – and be prepared to let go. Yes, let go. If it still has a price tag on it or if you haven’t worn it since the last election and it’s in good condition, well….why are you hanging onto it? Pare down your belongings, simplify your space and make some quick cash. Here are some basic consigning guidelines for a successful experience
Choose Your Venue: There are a lot of consignment stores out there, but they’re not all cut from the same cloth. You want a store that’s been around for a while, has a good reputation and lots of traffic. Choose a couple then go visit them during peak hours. If there’s a handful of people inside or the clothing looks like it dates back Melrose Place then chances are that’s not a good choice to have your merchandise pushed.
Know The Rules: Once you’ve made your choice, call and speak to a store rep or visit their website (if applicable) to see what their conditions are. Some important questions to ask:
- What is their commission take? Just like selling something on an online site, consignment stores make their money off a percentage of your sale. Find out how much of a bite they take out of it
- Presenting Your Merchandise. For instance, my store requires all items for consignment to be in like-new condition, not out-of-date, pressed, stain-free and on hangers or folded neatly in handle bags (which they give back). Household accessories, appliances, etc. need to be clean and in working order. They inspect the items very carefully for even the tiniest flaw. I had tried to consign a chocolate brown, canvas Coach handbag my sister had bought me for Christmas, but I just did not care for. I brought it for consignment hoping for a good, quick sale – I mean, it’s a COACH BAG. But there was a slight rip in the lining and they promptly handed it back to me. I was all, like, but….it’s a COACH BAG!! Part of me was annoyed at their pickiness, but the rational part of me saw why that place had been in business for so long and was the most popular consignment shop in my area – because they have standards as to the quality of merchandise they take.
- Can you have a say in pricing a certain item? If you are consigning a very expensive item (say, a designer handbag or leather/fur item) that you paid good money for, barely used and don’t want to get hosed trying to recoup a decent amount back, see if the store will allow your input on a re-sales price.
- Do you have to make an appointment? If you have five items, they may take you as a walk-in, whereas my store requires an appointment if you have quite a bit to consign. I always make an appointment regardless – especially if it’s a Saturday morning/afternoon where the line to consign is most likely to the door. If they don’t accept appointments, then find out if there are specific times to consign (some might take them all day, some may stop at 4pm – again, know the rules) and try to schedule to go off-peak, such as during the work-week as soon as they open, avoiding the lunch time shoppers and after-work crowd
- Is there a per-day limit? If you plan to unload the entire contents of your grandma’s attic in one visit, think again. My store has a 30-item-per-day limit per account. Again, different stores, different rules so find out if they have a per-day limit before you go renting that U-Haul
- Do they only take seasonal items? My store takes everything, no matter the season. Although this can be really convenient when you want to bring both winter and summer pieces in one trip, take into consideration what the current season is. Here, we’re about to embark upon winter. Even though my store would gladly take shorts, sandals and sundresses, the percentage of consumers looking for those types of items while it’s 25 degrees with a snowstorm about to hit may be low. You want to give your merchandise the best possible opportunity to sell – fast. My personal opinion, I’d hold off consigning summer items until the spring, when people are itching to get out of their NorthFace and Ugg cocoons!
- What happens to what does not sell? My store has two options – you can either take back your unsold merchandise or give them permission to donate to charity. I always choose donation, but if you want your items back, store them away and sneak them into a next batch. Who knows, there might be a shopper looking at it with fresh eyes who may snatch it up.
Checking Your Account. Depending upon the store, you can either call periodically, give them your account number and see if you have any money coming to your. Some store have websites where you can log in with your account to check yourself
Payment. Find out how you will be paid. Nine times out of ten, you’ll be given a store check made out to you. If the store is small, they may give you cash. Another option is to find out if they’ll pay you in store credit to use towards future purchases, especially if it’s a store with some great quality clothing and home stuff where you can stretch your dollars farther than a department store with sales and coupons!
The $67 bucks I picked up was the day hub and I had planned for a much needed date night. We had gone out to supper (where I had two restaurant coupons) then for frozen yogurt afterwards. And we didn’t have to pay a dime (and had some left over)