As you downsize, you’ll quickly realize that even after you decide what to keep for the future, paring down your possessions can be a lot of work! Donation can be an easy and gratifying option, but another fantastic way to dispose of unwanted belongings is to try consignment. This way, you can feel good knowing that your once-loved items will be loved a second time, and you’ll get a chance to make some money back on them, too.
Sounds great, right? If you’ve never consigned before, you probably have some questions about how consignment stores work. We’re here to help with some pro tips to help you consign your items efficiently and profitably.
How Consignment Stores Work
Generally speaking, consignment works like this:
- You, the consignor, make an appointment to bring your items to be reviewed by your local consignment shop.
- If the shop agrees to sell your items, they will offer your items for sale, but you’ll maintain ownership of the item until it sells.
- After the sale, the shop takes a cut of the profit as their fee for selling the item for you.
- If the item doesn’t sell right away, some shops will mark the price down, and eventually, if still unsold, will either return the item to you or donate it to charity.
So how much money can you make reselling your stuff? Every consignment store is a little different, and they set their terms depending on the type of items they sell.
Most stores will typically price your item at a 25% to 40% markdown from the original price, and then take their commission on that. Policies are greatly varied, with the business taking anything from a 25% to 60% cut of the selling price.
For example, let’s do the math on a dress originally priced at $100. If the consignment store prices it at $35, and takes a 50% commission, you’ll get $17 for your dress.
Pros and Cons
As downsizers, there are some major pluses if you choose to consign. It’s easy and fast, and a great time-saving alternative to creating and managing online auction listings yourself. Consignment also serves as a great paper trail for estate settlements. Additionally, you can feel good about supporting a locally-owned business. Some shops will give you an option for store credit at a higher value than cash, so you may even find your next favorite thing while shopping in the very store you’re consigning in!
Though consignment can be a great way to get rid of clothing and accessories, there are some limitations. When you’re downsizing, most people need to release a large amount of things at once, with the goal to get rid of your stuff as quickly as possible. The challenge is that most consignment shops have policies limiting the number of items they’ll take from a consignor at one time.
Most consignment stores also require sorting of the different items you bring in, and you may even need to make an itemized, detailed list including size, brand, and color. This process can be time-consuming, and may not be worth the effort. If you have the right type of belongings and the time and interest in consigning, here are some tips to help you get the most out of your fashion consignment experience:
Choose the best pieces:
- Focus on choosing good quality items you won’t need in the future.
- Remember that high-end brands have the best resale value.
- Items should be in nearly-new condition.
- Skip anything that is outdated or not in demand.
Prepare your items for consignment:
- Wash or dry clean if needed
- Remove any fabric pills or loose threads
- Do a final pass with a lint roller, especially if you have pets in the home
- Bring clothing items to the appointment on hangers if possible
- Obtain the form the store requires for consignment, and do the paperwork before you arrive
- Be sure to ask about payout policies and other terms of the consignment
Furniture and Accessories
Consignment can be an excellent way to sell high end furniture and accessories as well. As with fashion consignment, be sure to do research ahead of time to make sure you understand all of the terms. Stores vary tremendously with their policies, but in general we recommend:
- Contact the consignment store BEFORE you bring the item, especially if it is large!
- Clean your items as best as you can; steam clean upholstery, polish wood, etc.
- Be prepared to share photos of your item as well as dimensions, condition, original price, etc.
- Share as much information about the piece as possible
- You’ll likely be responsible to transport the piece to the store and, in some instances, pick it up if it does not sell
Consignment is a viable option for downsizing if you have high-end items in very good condition, and if you have the time and energy to dedicate to the process. Knowing your possessions will be cherished a second time means you feel good about paring down, and you can use the money you make from consigning to offset other expenses associated with your move.