Cincinnati Family Magazine

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July 23, 2024

The Fine Art of Consignment Shopping

As a mother of two, I have exchanged my pre-mommy designer duds with maternity wear, onesies and now (sigh) clothes for a tween. Consignment shops have been a way of life for me, and I am proud to announce my bargains to all who care to listen. Not only are consignment shops a great source for finding items to purchase, they are a great source of additional income if you want to unload those games, toys, dvds, clothes and accessories that the kids just “had” to have and then barely touched once they brought them home.

For those unfamiliar with consigning, it’s quite simple: you give a consignment shop you take your gently used items to a consignment shopt and they carefully inspect them and accept those they think are sellable. They do all of the work, including display, storage, ticketing, sales and merchandising. When your item sells, they pay you a percentage of the sale.

It’s common for you, the consignor, to receive about 40 percent of the sales price of your item. Not bad, considering all you did was bring it to the shop! A resale store will purchase items from you and offer you cash on the spot.

If you are thinking of consigning, be sure to call to find out what items stores take and if they have specific times that they accept them. Items should be freshly laundered and pressed and on hangers or folded neatly in bins. Visit the store web sites or call for their policies. Many stores that consign furniture require that you make an appointment, especially if you want to consign larger items.

For shoppers, consignment shops are a bargain hunter’s paradise. Since most stores receive new merchandise daily, it’s smart to frequent them often. And if you see something you like, grab it! You may return the next day only to find your coveted item has been snatched up by another shopper.

Consignment shopping is now more fashionable than ever, regardless of income level. As for me, the excitement of consignment shopping is still about the hunt. I love not knowing what I will discover on my next shopping excursion. I may come up empty handed or find that one item I have been searching for forever.


Selling Tips

Do make it a point, prior to your first visit, to understand the terms of the shop. It will save you time and confusion if you find out how long the items must remain in the shop, what percentage of the sale you will receive, and what happens after the consignment agreement ends.

Do make sure that your items are in excellent condition, in season, and in working order. If you are unsure about consigning a particular item, call and ask.

Do read your consignment agreement thoroughly. Many shops have markdowns throughout the consignment period. If you consign a precious item that you don’t want to sell for less than a certain amount, let the shop owner know.

Do choose a shop that is clean, organized and treats your items with care and respect. Shoppers love stores that are clean and where items are easy to find. The longer they stay in a store, the greater the odds are that they purchase your items.

Don’t become disappointed when a shop does not take all of your items. The more selective a shop owner is about inventory, the better your earning potential.

Don’t consign items that are outdated or flawed. Even if you have a highly sought after item, most shops don’t want to be known for selling less than perfect items.

Don’t consign your items in a shop that is obviously disorganized or less than clean. This leads to greater opportunity for loss and diminishes earning potential.

Don’t assume the store will call you after the consignment term ends. Most shops donate unsold items to a local charity following the agreement term. It is your duty to make a note of when the consignment period ends.


Shopping Tips

Ask for help! Since store owners have meticulously looked over all of the items that have been consigned, don’t be afraid to ask for help. They know where everything is in the store. They may also know if clothing items have been tailored or if something is a larger fit.

Check out all sizes. Especially when it comes to evening wear and tailored suits. Many people get these items altered to fit. A lot of formal evening wear is sold in large sizes because they customize the fit for each customer. Also, clothes often shrink after repeated washing and drying.

Ask about store policies: Most consignment shops have an “All Sales Are Final” policy. Look items over thoroughly and make sure all items are in working order or free from flaws before you leave the shop. When buying lighting or electronics, ask to plug it in or test the item.

Expect to see a major price difference between brands. Consignment shops should be pricing their clothing between 1/4 to 1/3 of the original retail price, taking into account condition, age, popularity of brand, etc.

Ask about sales or markdowns. Most shops have frequent markdowns in order to recycle the daily inventory that streams in. Ask the shop owner when their sales are or how often markdowns occur.

Don’t haggle over the price of an item! Haggling with a shop owner is basically telling them that they don’t know how to price and they don’t know their market. A successful consignment shop with a good reputation regularly marks down their merchandise and keeps items going in and out of their store quickly.

Bring a measuring tape with you! For large items for the home, you want to make sure the item is going to fit in your home or through doorways. Remember, once you buy it, it’s yours to keep.

Beware of knock-offs! All too often people purchase knock-offs or designer copies and these items end up in resale shops. Unless you really know your merchandise or have some proof of authenticity, buyer beware!

Kara Ferraro is a writer with two elementary aged children. She is always looking for clever, budget friendly activities to do with her family and ways to save money.

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