Consigning 101: Selling

Thrifting and consignment shopping makes up a large part of my wardrobe.  It’s no secret I love to shop. And it’s no secret that I love fashion trends.  But I love to get a great deal even more.  And I live for finding that one fabulous piece that is perfectly on trend and only a few bucks. Plus, can you think of a better way to help the environment then giving those once loved clothes a second home?

As The Style Chimera’s resident thrifter, it seems only fair that I share how I get some of my amazing deals.  So for those of you just getting starting in the world of consignment shopping and thrifting, here is my strategy for getting the most bang for your buck, starting with selling.

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Consigning Your Clothes:

1.  Do your research.
Go into the store first and look around.  See what kind of clothes they are selling. Check out the brands that are on the selves already.  Try to figure out if the stuff you are trying to sell would work in that store.  See what the prices are like.  That will give you a good indication of how much you’ll take home.

2. Know the customer
Consignment stores tend to cater to specific demographics.  For example, Plato’s Closet is focused on the teen to early 20’s crowd.  Don’t try and sell your business stuff there.  Instead find a consignment store that’s a little more high end, one that appeals to the professional or older crowd.

3. Check the store policy
Each consignment store has a different way of doing business.  Some do cash on the spot, some are only consignment, some offer a store credit, and some do all of these things.  Figure out how you’ll get the most money from your items.  Find out the percentage that you are going to get if the item sells.  Most of the time it’s around 40%.  Cash on the spot is a little less but you get the money instantly instead of having to wait and see if the item sells.  Some stores have a policy that if an item doesn’t sell in a certain amount of time, you can either pick it up or forfeit it.  As a seller, you need to know exactly what is going to be done with your stuff.  Another rule I’ve run across is the number of items you need to start consigning.  Some stores won’t start selling your stuff until they have a certain number of things from you.  It can be as many as 10 items.  After you set up your account, you can add any amount of items.

4.  Location, location, location!
Try to find stores that are in good spots.  Ones that are on a main street or intersection are good, ones in strip malls are better.  You want to pick a store that gets a lot of foot traffic.

5.  Go by the season
Consignment stores only make money if the clothes sell.  So if it’s the middle of summer, don’t be surprised if they aren’t enthusiastic about your boots with the fur.  Go through your stash and put aside the stuff that you would wear at that moment.  The stores will gravitate toward in season items because they should sell faster. But some do buy all seasons all the time. I still sort my stuff based on season because I’m not sure how up on the inventory the buyer is when I’m there. And if it’s the current season, they need to replenish stock, not store it in the back, which might make them less likely to buy.  Also, stores want current trends, so don’t try selling fannie packs and Member’s Only jackets there.  Save those for vintage sales.

6.  Attitude is everything
This is probably the most important.  We all think that the stuff we chose to spend our hard earned money on is great.  But when you’re consigning you clothes, shoes, and purses, you basically put your personal style up for inspection.  The buyer at the store is not going to take everything you have to offer.  They just won’t.  And there are many reasons why, the biggest being they have too much of that item already.  Don’t get offended if they don’t take your stuff.  It doesn’t mean that your stuff is bad or ugly, it just means it’s not a good fit for the store right now.  I took me a few tries to get this one.  🙂

7. Quality
Check all your clothes before you head to the store.  No stains, rips or holes.  Clothes, shoes and purses with excessive wear and tear won’t get you anything so save them for a yard sale.

8.  NWT
If you’re an eBay shopper, you know that NWT means “new with tags”.  Translation: never worn.  So, if you have something in your closet with the tags still on it and you’ve decided to get rid of it, keep those tags on!  Consignment stores like never worn stuff.  It sells really well.  It helps the customer see the deal they are getting.  If you have clearance tags on an item, try to remove that part and show the original price for two reasons:  shows the customer how much they are saving and doesn’t let the store know that the item is not that current.  I’ve managed to sell things that were a few years old by doing this (I don’t take the tags off anything until I’m going to use it).

9.  Know the buyers
I like to see to sell to one girl in particular at my consignment store.  She knows me and knows what to expect when I come in.  She likes my style so she tends to buy a lot of what I bring in.  Get to know the staff if you can.  If you build a relationship with them, it will help you in the long run.

To help you even more, here is the strategy I use for consigning my clothes:

I sell at multiple stores based on what I have.  If I’m getting rid of high-end brands, I consign them at a store that focuses on name brand clothes.  Business clothes are consigned at a different store and almost everything else goes to a ‘juniors’ store.  Unless it’s the high-end brand, I always do cash on the spot.  This way, I don’t have to worry about losing my money if an item doesn’t sell in time.  The one store I do the most business with has a policy that if an item doesn’t sell in 90 days, it’s forfeit to the store.  They say it’s donated, but I know they sell it and get 100% of the money and I get nothing.  Because of this, I only consign my business clothes with them, since they sell well there (they also own the juniors store which offers cash on the spot).

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that whether you consign your clothes or do cash on the spot, you are getting more than you would at a yard sale.  So whatever they don’t end up taking, save it for a yard sale or donate it to Goodwill. If you have an H&M store near you, take the clothes there. They recycle them and you get a 15% off coupon which is basically money in your pocket.

Happy consigning!

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