USED is NOT a Four Letter Word...Score big and cash in on Consignment Shops*
by Sarah Tucker
(*This is based on my experience as a consignment junkie)
I admit that I was slow to come around to consignment stores. The few that I had been in were stocked with cruddy stuff and smelled like musty basements. When I had kids, all that changed. I was overwhelmed with supercute clothes that I couldn’t bear to sell for 50 cents at a garage sale. Besides, the thought of having a garage sale gives me a panic attack. So I started searching for a good consignment home for my gently used (and often brand new, never been used) stuff. Lo and behold, there are tons of moms who had the same idea and my addiction to consignment stores was born.
Just today, I went in to collect my monthly check. I walked out with a brand new Pottery Barn Kids corduroy Barn jacket (orig. $48) for $8 and a Gymboree Sweater with original tags (orig. $33) for $7. I walked with my clothes..$81 bucks worth, for $15..and a check for $35! Of course all consignment stores aren’t the same. I have found that chains (Apple Tree) or ones located near malls aren’t as good-at least in my area. Look for independently owned stores, in nice areas. The nicer the area, the better quality clothes and generally they are in better condition. The markups tend to be comparable, and in some cases less than chains, who may to be bound to a pricing formula. Also, you can get to know the owner, and this can be a huge plus (more on that later).Check back often. I try to hit my store at least once a week. More now that my daughter’s enrolled in the dance school next door! The good stuff goes fast, and people bring stuff everyday!
When consigning, a few rules that will net you the most on your stuff. First, the obvious. CLEAN IT (or at least Febreeze it)!! No one, including the owner of the store wants dirty, stained and stinky clothes. Ditto with toys, baby gear, books, frames and whatever else your store accepts. Consignment stores aren’t in the cleaning business. Second, the obvious. If its torn, stained or generally unappealing, donate it or trash it. Constantly bringing crap to your consigner diminishes your “cred”. Don’t bring your stuff to the store in trash bags. The perception is that it is trash. I take it folded in either a storage bin or a laundry basket. If you really want to make an impression, take things on hangers. They love that and will often give you back the number of hangers you bring in. Plus because they don’t have to do anything but tag it, you are all but guaranteed rack space.Take your stuff in batches. Ok, you have 30 onesies, 10 blankets and 20 sleepers. So does every other consigner. I tend to break up my drop-offs so I make sure to maximize the number of my items that make it to the racks. Ask what season of clothing they are accepting, or what they may need—even if its off season. My store desperately needed bathing suits in late Feb./early March for Spring-break shoppers. Look for a store that sells a little of everything. I have consigned everything from keepsake boxes, old hair bows, old toys and pregnancy books to car seats, crib bumpers and even a diaper champ. PJ's SELL. They are the one things you can put in in moderate condition, and people will buy, especially if they are character, or from Gap or Old Navy. Kids just sleep in them, so their condition is negotiable. As long as they are clean and dont stink..consign them!!
DON’T GET RIPPED OFF! Consignment shops pay you a percentage of what your items bring. Don’t go for one under 30% --find another place or sell it on Ebay. Mine pays me 40%. If you can get more—YAY for you. To me, 40% is fair. I don’t want the stuff anymore, I don’t want to have a garage sale and want to make a little dough. I’ll pay 60% for someone else to do the work. Plus 40% of the consignment price of all my stuff adds up. It's worth it.Look for a consignment shop that donates overstock or unsold items to charity. If your stuff doesn’t sell, at least you know its going to a needy home.Finally. Get to know the owner. This is important on a couple of levels.They may not immediately put the occasional trashbag drop-off you have in the donate pile.Your stuff may get a bit more floor time, which equals more sales. If you know them, they tend to look out for items you request, or hold items back for you. I needed a size 4 ballet leotard, in pink with a chiffon skirt. A couple of weeks ago, I got a call. They got one in and were holding it for me if I still wanted it. I did and got a great deal!
The same tips apply to adult consignment shops. For a little bit of effort (but not nearly as much as a garage sale or ebay), you can score big..not only finding killer deals (did I mention the pair of 7 for all Mankind jeans I found for $34 at my adult consignment store), but making a bit of extra money off your consignments. Take your stuff, let them do the rest and shop for killer deals. Happy consigning and may your old stuff be another’s treasure and may someone else’s old stuff be you treasure!!!!!