Why You Need a Consignment Store Strategy

Why you need a consignment store strategy for sustainable style.

Whether you are new to shopping consignment stores for clothes or have been shopping at consignment stores for years, a strategy can make your efforts much more rewarding. When you have a strategy for your shopping, it’s how the deals happen and how you can find great pieces that align with your style for fantastic prices. This is why it’s time to get strategic.

If you are familiar with my story and my business, you know that I shop almost exclusively from secondhand stores (consignment and thrift). With my approach, I have created accounts a multiple stores so that when I shop at those stores, I don’t pay for my clothes or I pay very little. How do I do this?

Strategy for consignment stores for clothes:

Do your homework.

Figure out the stores near you (if you are going to be using stores with physical locations) and go to their websites to read about their consignment policies. If they don’t have that online, call to ask or go in person. Questions to ask:

  • What brands they take, if they limit the items by when they were originally sold and if they have a minimum purchase price for the items they accept? By this I mean, some stores only take items that originally sold for $50 or more.
  • What is the percent you receive (that goes to your account) from the cost of your sold items?
  • Do they have the option of paying you (give you cash) for the items that sold? Typically, they pay you a smaller percentage if you cash out rather than spend the money at the store.
  • Will they will pay you right away for the items they take in for sale or if they will grow your account as your clothes sell?
  • Will they give you a discount by using your account to buy clothes at their store? One of the stores I shop at gives you 10% off the clothes you buy with your consignment account “money.”

Consign where you buy!

It’s pointless to consign your clothes and create an account at a store that is an hour from your house or has clothes you don’t really like or aren’t your size. The key is to create consignment accounts where you will actually shop. If you are new to consignment shopping or new to an area, gradually start visiting the stores and determine which ones you like, where you find clothes you like and consign where you find yourself shopping the most. When you have a consignment account, this is how you can buy new to you clothes for “free.”

Prepare the clothes!

It’s important to note that you can’t just pile a bunch of clothes in a bag and take them to a store. Some stores won’t accept clothes brought in garbage bags. Most won’t accept clothes with wrinkles. None will accept damaged or stained clothes. Ask if you would buy the clothes in the condition they are in, if not, then either clean and iron them or donate them.

Online vs. a physical store.

Online consignment stores such as ThredUP and Swap are popular. If you prefer to shop online, these may be a better option for you then going to physical stores. Both have rules on what they accept. ThredUP gives you the option of sending your clothes to them for donation or consignment. You can sell directly from your closet using Poshmark as well.

Consign and wait!

Based on the results of doing your homework, you will know if stores pay you for your clothes immediately or or if they will add money to your account as your clothes sell (most are like this). So if you consign a bunch of clothes, wait for about one to three months to let your account grow. Then check in and see what your account balance is.

Case Study:

I worked with a client who asked me to create her consignment accounts for her. First I sorted the clothes based on what store I would take them to. I prepared them by ironing or hanging them out to release wrinkles, removed small stains and donated the items that were old or excessively worn. I then started with the higher end consignment store and whatever they didn’t take, I took to the next one. Later this client and I went through her jewelry, I then created an account at third store with her jewelry. The result? On our first shopping trip, she had over $300 in credit and didn’t pay for any of her ‘new’ clothes. On our second shopping trip, she again had over $300 at the second store and didn’t pay for her clothes. Obviously, she was thrilled that her old clothes paid for her new clothes. I’ve done this repeatedly for my clients including one who had over $500 in credit and ended up spending $25 for our entire shopping trip.

Lastly, and this goes for whether you are shopping secondhand or not, shop with a list!! Ask yourself before you buy if you will wear the clothing or shoes for at least 30 wears. Shopping strategically will help you maintain your account balance, buy what you truly love and want and do it for significantly less than you would at retail.

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