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7 tips for selling your stuff at consignment stores

Selling gently-used clothing and household items at a consignment store can turn a closet clean-out into extra cash. We’ve collected seven top tips for selling consignment, to help you feel prepared for your next sale.

Do you ever look around your house or through your closet and think “I never use/wear this anymore”? If you do, it may be time for a closet clean-out. And while you’re getting rid of things you don’t use anymore, you may want to set aside items that are new or nearly-new – anything you think someone might be interested in buying. You can take these pieces to a consignment store, where they could be sold on your behalf.

Selling items at consignment stores is a great way to boost your budget, as you’ll be turning unused items like antiques, books, clothing, furniture, tools, toys, and more into extra cash. 

What is a consignment store?

A consignment store is a shop that sells high-quality used (and occasionally new) items such as household goods, clothing, furniture and more. The merchandise inside the shop is sold on behalf of their owners, who receive a portion of the income once the item sells. The remainder of the profit goes to the store.

Consignment stores are different from charity stores or thrift shops, as the merchandise inside hasn’t been donated – it’s being sold on behalf of the owner. Consignment stores are also different than pawn shops; in a pawn shop, items are given in exchange for a loan. The owner can retrieve their item (if it hasn’t been sold) by repaying the loan, with interest. 

Ready to sell? 

Once you’ve decluttered and found the items that you’re ready to part with, head to your local consignment store (or stores, depending on the types of items you have). Once you arrive, the store owner will review your items, select those appropriate for their shop, and then discuss payment methods with you. 

Here are 7 tips to help set you up for successful consignment selling. 

1) Clean your items and make sure they’re in good condition to sell

People shopping at consignment stores are looking for quality items, either gently used or new with tags. Make sure everything you’re bringing to sell is in good condition – no missing buttons, broken clasps or dings in furniture. You want the shop owner to trust your items to sell, otherwise they may not be interested in looking through everything you’ve brought. On a similar topic …

2) Trust the seller’s decision on what will and won’t sell

The seller knows what types of merchandise moves within their store. Even if you think an item is desirable and in great condition, they may not accept it. Trust their knowledge and focus on building your relationship, so over time they trust you to bring quality items and not argue.

Tip: Some consignment stores share guidelines on their website about what type of merchandise they’re interested in selling. Take a look at any guidelines before heading to the store to make the most of your visit.

3) Ask about markdown policies

Consignment stores usually have an approach for moving merchandise that isn’t selling, such as frequent sales and weekly discounts. Make sure you understand what happens if it takes a while for your item to sell; will it be worth as much in another week, or a month? If you decide there’s a limit to how low you’ll go, you can always pick up your item when it gets marked down.

4) Ask about payment frequency and be prepared for small payouts

Not every item sells right away, or for as much money as you may expect it to. Being prepared for smaller payouts over time will help set you up for success. Ask the seller how often they pay out so you know when to watch for a cheque; some may only give payouts every few months. 

5) Consider your payment options – cash or in-store credit

If you know you may want to buy a few items from the consignment store (for example, if you have a special event coming up, or you’ve got kids who go through lots of clothes or toys), you may want to consider receiving the proceeds of your sales as in-store credit. Occasionally, the store owner will offer a larger payout if you’re willing to go this route. You can always change your mind for future sales.

6) Sometimes a consignment sale is a better option

Consignment sales are different than consignment stores in that they are more intense and last a shorter amount of time (for example, a weekend sale). Generally, sellers at consignment sales are willing to take more merchandise and overlook minor wear and tear. If you have high-quality items that are a little more used, a consignment sale may be the right option for you.

7) You may want to consider peer-to-peer selling platforms

Consignment stores are nice in that they take the duty of the sale off you (store owners have the customers and the infrastructure to sell merchandise), but it can be hard to stomach the fees. If you’re looking to make more profit off your products, you may want to consider selling through classifieds or peer-to-peer selling platforms like Facebook Marketplace. 

Whether it’s a result of spring cleaning or simply a much-needed review of your possessions, selling unwanted items through consignment can simplify your space at home, and give you a wallet a boost. Not only that, but it’s also good for the environment – studies show that as much as 85% of clothing ends up in a landfill every year, let alone furniture and other household items. If you’re not interested in visiting consignment stores in-person, you can also consider online vendors like thredUP and Amazon, who may be willing to ship your goods to their warehouses for online distribution.

Whatever route you take, remember the seven keys to successful consignment selling:

  • Ensure your items are in good condition to sell
  • Trust the seller’s decision on your items and focus on relationship building
  • Understand markdown policies
  • Be prepared for smaller payouts over time
  • Know your payout options (in-store credit or cash)
  • Consider consignment sales over consignment shops
  • Look into peer-to-peer selling options

Interested in other ways to boost your budget? Check out these 10 tips to earn extra money on the side.

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