FYI – It Is A Two Way Street!

If you are going to shop, you should consign and if you are going to consign, you should shop!

Who really likes to pay retail? I recently purchased a St. John sweater at my local consignment shop Revolve, for 65.00. The original retail was over 800.00 (aka way out of my league). Instead of paying retail this holiday season or risking your life on Black Friday, why not consider shopping consignment? To some people, consignment shops conjure up images of thrift stores, filled with outdated cardigans. But for savvy shoppers who love luxury items, that’s all changed during the past decade. New shops are popping up and filling up. Women are becoming educated consumers who want to stay current and stylish without breaking the bank. We fifty-somethings are realizing that less is more and selectivity is our right! If we have bought something that doesn’t fit, flatter or function any longer, we have the right to kick it out of the closet and repurpose it locally.

The used merchandise, or resale, industry has become big business. Consignment and thrift shops have become a $13 billion a year industry, popular among shoppers of all ages and economic demographics.

Most consignment shops are not big chains however, they are local merchants who cater to, and make a living in your local community. So the more you help them, the more they help you.

Small Business Saturday returns on November 29, 2014. No doubt there is a consignment shop in your community, no doubt it is a small business and no doubt that shop is providing you with a clean, impeccably organized, well lit, beautifully displayed store front for you to sell your old stuff! They are paying the rent, the utilities and the employees and honestly, oftentimes it costs them more to process, hold, display, monitor and resell your old duds than they actually make on it! But I digress. Let’s lay the groundwork for building a mutually beneficial consignment relationship, consider it a pre-nup to cleaning out your closet!

The Consignor

Before entering into this new relationship let’s consider a few things.

Consign where you want to shop. Each store’s inventory comes from the surrounding communities so if you’re looking to buy or consign funky, youthful clothing, shop for a resale store in a college area. If you are after higher-end, classic pieces, head to a high-end classy neighborhood!

Develop a relationship with the shop owner, stopping by often to get the flavor of the store. Let the shop owner know what you are looking for, oftentimes you will get a phone call when product from your favorite designer filters in. Let the shop owner know what type of things you might have to consign. Make sure you are a match before you schlep your inventory into the store. They are only going to take in what they can sell. Don’t take a ‘no’ personally.

What are their policies?

  • Look for a shop that accepts consignments daily with no appointment necessary.
  • Can the product be processed immediately or accepted as a drop off?
  • What price will they mark it? Usually it is at about 1/3 of its original value.
  • How long will they market items? Usually it is between 60 and 90 days.
  • How much will the consignor make? That usually runs between 30 and 40% of the final selling price.
  • How will you get paid? Options include check, store credit and trade, depending on the individual shops.
  • Will the store sell for cash? A few stores will sell for cash on the spot. Mind you it is probably on a certain day, at a certain time and possibly even just a flat dollar amount by category – 10.00 for pants, 15.00 for sweaters, etc.
  • Are you expected to remember to come back or will they call you when the time is up? That answer is usually ‘it is up to you’ as they are not really in the babysitting business.
  • Be sure to know what the ending action is on your part if it doesn’t sell. Are you donating it or picking it up. Quite honestly if you have already parted with it once, I recommend just being once and done!
  • If picking it up, how long do you have before they heave ho?

What are your responsibilities as a consignor?

  • In order to increase your chances of the consignment shop accepting your clothing and of people purchasing your items, take responsibility for the following things.
  • Clothing should be laundered – come on ladies would you buy a dandruff laden sweater?
  • Shoes – bring only shoes in brand new condition – again who wants shoes with toe indents already scored!
  • The merchandise is in the calendar season that we are actually in – would you really shop for white capri’s in December in New England?
  • The merchandise is contemporary, not older than 2 years and is in perfect condition – seriously would you want to buy outdated merchandise in tattered condition?
  • shocked shopperYou can’t just back the family truck up to their front door and unload 10 black garbage bags of stuff and expect them to accept 10 black garbage bags of stuff – those would go to the Good Will, Salvation Army or Red Cross bins at the dump. Yes they accept everything because it is a blind drop off and they are not supplying you with anything in return.
  • Call ahead to see how the store wants to receive the items. Some places want you to bring clothing in on hangers while others would rather have it folded in bags.

The Shopper

Just because it is a bargain doesn’t mean it is for you!

  • Ask yourself – would I buy this new?
  • Would I wear this often – how often?
  • What would I pay for this if it were new?
  • Do I recognize the designer names that they are selling?
  • What is the atmosphere of the store? Is it neat, clean, tidy and does it smell good? Yes, I said smell good – we don’t want dirty, smelly, moth ball clothing coming home to live in our closets!
  • What is the condition of the garment, are all of the buttons in place, zippers working?
  • Do I need this garment – does it add value or just bulk to my wardrobe.
  • Be sure it is not going to become a one-shot-wonder – a lonely closet item with no mates!
  • No impulse buying or settling.
  • Be careful of the final sale rule – be sure you want what you are paying for!
  • Shop with limits. Limit the number of items, don’t just spend the same amount as you would have in a retail store and feel like you are getting more bang for your buck. Sometimes more bang is actually saving the savings for a rainy day.
  • Because items are one of a kind, don’t be afraid to tailor the size – it will no doubt still cost you less than new!
Doreen Dove in her nearly new Eileen Fisher sweater

Doreen Dove in her nearly new Eileen Fisher sweater

Are you ready for some guilt free shopping ladies? Start walking down that two way street. Do your homework, find a local shop, and start supporting your wallet and theirs! You will be amazed what treasures and labels will find their way to your closet. As I write in my barely used Eileen Fisher sweater, let me share a few labels I noted on my last deep dive into the world of ‘why not’!

Alice & Olivia, Anthropologie, Burberry, Chanel, Diane Von Furstenberg, Eileen Fisher, Elie Tahari, Elizabeth & James, Free People, J. Crew, J. McLaughlin, Lily Pullitzer, Majestic, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Milly, Missoni, Moschino, Nanette Lepore, Prada, Theory, Vince

Doreen Dove empowers women to use style as a tool to take strategic control of their image. She is an image consultant, personal stylist, professional speaker and author. Her extensive background in all aspects of retail has uniquely qualified her to work with women of all ages and professions, coaching them to personal style success.

Book a complimentary Boost Your Image Breakthrough Session with me. We’ll chat about digging you out of your style rut! Then we’ll move on to your closet, your image and whatever else comes up! I look forward to ‘meeting’ you on the phone!

Need your own style guide? Look no more – here is my newly released eBook!
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