Money In Your Closet!
by Tamela Hancock Murray
Dress Like a Diva on a Thrift Store Budget
A Closet Full of Wearable Clothes
Are your closets stuffed with misfits? Do you have garments that are too small, too large, bear unflattering colors, or are just plain wrong? Have you accumulated trinkets that no longer bring you joy? Would you like to earn more for good clothing than the pennies a yard sale is likely to yield? Then selling on consignment might be right for you!
Although the use of consignment shops requires effort, it offers advantages over a traditional yard sale:
- You should be able to earn more money from consignment selling than from a yard sale.
- Your items will be made available to the public for months rather than for a day or two.
- You can sell goods even if your house isn't located on a main highway.
- You don't have to worry about publicizing your sale.
- Your privacy is protected since consignment shop customers aren't told who you are or where you live.
Once you decide to consider selling on consignment, you'll need to determine if you have the right type of goods or enough to sell. First, we'll address the issue of clothing. As you sort through clothes you want to discard, remember that consignment shops are not repositories for garments that are:
- Out of style. If you haven't seen the type of fabric, cut, or color in more than three years, forget selling it on consignment. But take heart. If your clothes have been out of fashion long enough, perhaps a vintage clothing store or even an antique shop would take them.
- Stained or soiled. Painters, mechanics, and others in professions that are tough on clothes might not mind paying a buck for a slightly stained shirt for work. However, they aren't usually consignment shop customers. Save clothing with minor stains that is otherwise in good condition for a charity or yard sale.
- Out of season. Consignment shops accept lightweight clothing in spring and summer, and warm clothing when the weather is cold.
- Threadbare or ripped. Cut these up for rags.
On the other hand, consignment shops will usually take:
- Items with the price tag still attached. In fact, these are ideal.
- Garments no more than three or four years old.
- Stylish clothes. This doesn't always mean trendy. Classics are welcome.
To sell on consignment, be prepared to launder and, if necessary, press each item. Most shops ask that you bring your clothes in on hangers, although shoes do not always require boxes.
Why are they so picky? Because these shops are hoping to attract customers who are looking for items that are almost new. The customers want to be stylish, but they are looking to save a few dollars. By agreeing to take your clothes, the shops are, in effect, renting you their valuable real estate. Selling clothes quickly is to everyone's advantage. When sorting clothes to sell on consignment, ask yourself, "Is this something I would want to wear?" If so, that should be a good candidate for consignment.
If you have a few other items, such as dishware, jewelry, and trinkets you no longer want, either visit the shop to see if they sell these items, or simply ask before taking them in for consideration. Also be aware that some shops fill niches. In my area of Northern Virginia, there is no nearby shop that sells both women's and children's clothing.
However, there is at least one shop that specializes in sporting equipment. If you have a variety of goods to sell, call around and see where to sell. You don't want to lug a lot of heavy items to the shop, only to have them rejected. For instance, I was sure I could sell my old microwave oven. I was surprised when the shop owner said that even many college dorms are equipped with microwaves now, so they don't sell.
Usually, consignment shops don't operate as simply as a charity where you might dump off a garbage bag full of clothing and forget about it. Some shops require that you schedule an appointment. Often there is a limit on the number of items they will accept at one time. Others will tell you not to bother unless you have at least $50 worth of merchandise to sell.
Be prepared to pay a few dollars up front. One shop in my area charges a one-time fee of $10. Another charges $5 each time you contract with them. A contract generally runs from two to three months. Plan on the shop charging the customer about 1/4 of the original retail, and then splitting half of that price with you. So if you take in a $100 dress, the shop might sell it for $25 and give you $12.50.
Don't worry that your items will be undervalued. Savvy shop owners are familiar with the name brands and type of goods their customers buy. They know about how much any given item sells at full retail.
Ideally, your goods will move quickly. However, if your contract is nearing its expiration date, some stores will discount the items that aren't selling. Even with the discount, you should still earn better than yard sale prices.
At the end of your contract, you will be asked to pick up whatever didn't sell, along with your check. Good luck!
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