I’ve been making money consigning for a few years. I’d probably be finished but my modus operandi is to start, sell, stop, and start again. When Brad and I combined households we increased the amount of stuff to try to get rid of. Our ultimate goal is to sell everything we’re no longer using and eliminating consigning from my list of ways to make some extra cash. Until then, consigning is one of my top ten easy ways of making some extra cash.
Probably the biggest thing to know if you haven’t consigned before is that it is easy to do, but it does take some time. However, I think it’s worth it. In 2016 I made a more than $700 from consigning … and I was lazy about it. I think I could have done much better. My hope is that this post gives you a good idea of the process, the steps to take, and what to expect. So here we go!
Don’t Go with the First Shop You See: Shop Around
Search the net for stores in your area. If you’re lucky there’ll be several that you’ll want to work with, but one is a good start. Why? Because they’re not all the same. You may find that certain items sell better in some stores than others. Plus, each shop has its own policies and procedures and there are many factors to consider such as, “What’s the split?” I won’t consign unless it’s at least a 50-50 split. Shops may offer a greater or lesser percentage.
You also want to know and be okay with their pricing and markdown policies. Will you be informed In advance of the prices set for your items (and given the option to decline to consign) or not? Do you care? How long will they keep your items on display to sell? Do they mark items down? If so, when and how much? If your stuff doesn’t sell can you pick it up if you want or do they keep it and donate? How often will you get paid? Immediately after an item has sold? Once a month? Seasonally? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. As long as you’re comfortable with the terms go for it.
Choose the “Best” Consignment Shops Possible
Consignment shoppers in the know shop at stores located in wealthier areas because there is a better chance of finding higher end goods at great prices. On the flip side, while the prices are great for the buyer, the shop may charge a little more which means the seller (you) can earn a little more. I scope out numerous shops and do some reconnaissance. Would I consider shopping there? Does it smell musty or like mildew? Is it neat? Are wares displayed professionally? Are the styles current and or/classic? Do the styles reflect my aesthetic (important to the extent that you want your items to fit in with what’s being sold)? Do I like the proprietors?
There’s a Shop for (Just About) Everyone and Every Thing
Years ago consignment shops seemed to focus mainly on women and children. Today, there’s a store for everyone and everything: women, teens, young adults, special occasion, designer hand bags, furniture and home goods, entertainment, and more. Did you notice that “men” weren’t included on this list? That’s because there appears to be a dearth of shops catering to men. The few brick and mortar shops I’ve visited had clothes that were woefully out of date (Member’s Only jacket anyone?). Sure, many shops include small sections devoted to menswear. In shops like “Plato’s Closet” which caters to young adult and teens, the selection is split pretty evenly between the genders, but in general consignment clothing and accessories still seems to be a woman’s game. My point is, if you’ve got a range of ages in your household, get the whole group involved, do some searching, and sell your stuff for extra cash!
Don’t Forget Online Consignment Shops
I’m old school because I prefer brick and mortar stores. I feel like I can develop a relationship with the owners and I actually enjoy going into shops. With that said, it would be crazy to ignore all of the online consignment opportunities out there. For instance, I’ve consigned clothes at Kindermint (which is now a part of ThredUp) and had a great experience. ThredUp is another popular online consignment shop for women and children. There are tons of online consignment stores specializing in everything. The two I listed are simply ones I’m familiar with. A little searching will bring up many more legitimate online shops in every category. In doing some minimal research I’ve come across stores that pay in the form of store credit. Puhleeze. Give me the cash!
Gathering Your Stuff to Sell – Be Brutal
I couldn’t figure out whether to put this at the beginning of the post or not. Before you consign you have to know what you want to get rid of, right? On the other hand, how do you start before you get a sense of what is consignable and where the shops are located? I decided it was more important to finish the post so it’s staying here.
I actually have a small room in our house that I call the “stuff to sell” room. I put everything that I intend to sell on eBay, Craigslist, in consignment shops, and yard sales in this room. I hate this room because I have plans for it and right now it’s just a cluttered reminder of how much stuff my husband and I have amassed together and separately. However, it works for us. Hopefully you have a less chaotic way of gathering. Anyhoo, here’s what I do:
1. Set aside one full day to go through the entire house.
2. Go through all the closets and drawers and pull out everything not worn in a year. Then I put half of it back because it’s cute and I WILL wear it. Then I pull it out again the next year and finally sell it… which explains why I still have stuff to consign.
3. Stuff is divided into six piles: Consign, eBay, Craigslist, Garage Sale, Donate, Trash. This is actually the toughest part for me. Who doesn’t think their stuff is worth more than someone else would pay for it, right? The other thing is, depending on the item I can make the most on eBay, but doing the research is really time-consuming.
4. When choosing between consigning clothes, selling on eBay or Craigslist, I almost always choose consigning. I might try eBay if the clothes are brand new, never worn, and/or in perfect condition. I never consign clothes on Craigslist. I’d rather donate.
5. Next comes home goods, appliances, furniture, etc. With furniture I consign higher end pieces and sell other pieces on Craigslist. With appliances, I consign all that is in working condition. If it doesn’t sell it’s saved for a garage sale. Maybe Craigslist, but oftentimes people offer so little I’d rather donate it. If the appliances are broken check eBay to see if anyone is buying parts (you’d be surprised!).
6. Separate your stuff by season: No one is looking for your spring clothes, or holiday patterned china in July.
7. Women’s Suits: If you’re like me and have amassed a TON of business suits (required in my former life), you probably won’t be able to consign them. Business attire has changed significantly in the last few years and they simply don’t sell. There still seems to be a market on eBay, which I’ve decided to try. If that doesn’t work I’m donating them all.
8. Don’t wait! Make appointments and sell your stuff immediately before you lose your momentum. This is another reason I still have a lot of stuff to consign. Stuff comes up and life happens. Then you’re stuck with your pile of stuff until the next “Lets go” wave hits you.
So I think that’s about it in terms of my personal experience. I’m sure there’s a lot I’ve missed. Tell me about your personal experiences and share tips you have so MUTC readers can have lots of consignment success.
Oh, one more tip. If you can stand storing your items that don’t sell, try consigning them again in another season (or the next year if it’s seasonal). I’ve had items that I KNEW in my gut were too good to just donate and sure enough, the next go round it sold – often for more than the price of the previous year. Thanks for reading!