We love sharing the many ways you can shop secondhand here on the blog and podcast, but I must admit, the idea of shopping and selling my clothes at a local consignment store has always been a little out of my comfort zone. I always assumed consignment stores were overpriced and that the selling process would be too complicated. I decided to get out of my thrift comfort zone and sell my clothes to a local consignment store for the first time this year. Here’s what I’ve learned:
first, how does consigning work?
Consigning your clothes refers to an arrangement where you entrust your clothing items to a consignment store to sell them on your behalf. Unlike buy / sell / trade stores, you do not receive cash on the spot. Instead, you will get paid if and when your item sells. Think of the consignment store as an intermediary, displaying and marketing your clothes to potential buyers in their store. The consignment store will take a fee, typically anywhere between 30-50% of the item. So, say your item sells for $20, you and the store will each receive $10. After the consigning period is over, you can cash out and take any remaining unsold items.
Consignment can be a mutually beneficial experience, allowing you to earn money from your unwanted items while the store gains inventory to offer to their customers. Plus, consigning your items every 90 days or so is a wonderful way to develop a system of decluttering and maintaining your closet.
Research a Locally Owned Store
Let’s face it, the buy / sell / trade chains are just too unpredictable. Locally owned stores are more likely to need more inventory and have better consigning fees. Plus, it’s always best to support local when possible. Here in NE Ohio, we love Gerri’s Closet and Best Bib and Tucker.
Find out what’s in demand
This is by far one of the most important steps to successfully consigning your items. Call ahead and ask the store which brands, sizes, and seasons are in demand. You should also walk around the store and take note of popular brands, displays, and trends.
Inquire about consigning hours and item limits
Most stores have specific consigning hours so you might not be able to just walk in at any time to sell your clothes. Be sure to check ahead of time before you lug your items to the store! Also, inquire about the quantity limit of the items you can bring. Some stores limit each customer to 25 items per visit.
Prepare Your Items
Make sure your items are in good, clean, and presentable condition. Wash or iron if needed. Place them neatly in a basket or tote versus throwing them in a trash bag.
Lower Your Expectations
Unless you plan on consigning a luxury item where you can predict a decent sale, expect to make on average $7 per item. Walk around the store and get a sense of how items are priced, then divide that number by half: that’s most likely going to be your profit if your item sells. For example, if the majority of the items in the store range from $20-50, you will most likely make anywhere from $10-25, depending on the value and condition of your item.
Don’t Forget about Décor and accessories
Many consignment stores carry some small home décor items and jewelry. I was pleasantly surprised when my local store took a summer-themed tablecloth from my items!
Thanks, it’s Thrifted is a podcast about secondhand style and sustainable living hosted by two treasure-hunting friends, Dina & Shannon. Follow on Instagram @dinasdays and @thanksitsthrifted.pod. For more about the podcast visit dinasdays.com/podcast.