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How To Start Your Own Consignment Shop
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Opening An Online Consignment Store: Getting Started
Consignment is a cross between resale shops and vintage stores: boutiques take the “good stuff” from your closet and (try to) sell it to someone else. These generally cater to high-end sellers and shoppers; If there are resale stores like Beacon’s Closet where you get your old Zara and Aritzia, consignment stores like INA in New York and Decades in Los Angeles where you get things from Barneys. A place for things.
Consignment can be a bit tricky; This involves giving away your goods without a guarantee that they will be purchased, and you will not receive any money up front. (Vintage stores often double as consignment stores, so the line can be a little blurry). Pros: Consignment is a good option for pieces that bring a big profit (in other words, don’t bring any Gucci to the Buffalo Exchange).
Below, Meredith Fineman—founder of Consign + Co, which advises buyers and sellers on all things consignment—answers our most frequently asked questions, like which brands are in high demand and how much you can expect in return.
When you’re ready to move, is it better to try to do several things at once — like cleaning out your closet — or do them one at a time?
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What I personally do and what I tell clients and friends to do is categorize the pieces they want to sell into four categories. First up are high-end items and designer pieces. These are more important in terms of the value you will receive.
The second category is contemporary labels: Principle, Vince, Rag and Bone, Paige, Joie. The third is low-end but desirable (actually, pretty much): Lululemon, J. Crew, Zara, and H&M. The fourth is something to donate (sorority t-shirts, sweatpants, random tags) or give to a friend.
This is the system I usually operate and delegate. If I knew I was going to buy a lot for something I thought was overpriced (like the Theory Blazer), I’d give it to a friend who liked it.
So from this perspective, is it generally more profitable to commission one large product from a high-end brand or several small pieces from a mid-range designer?
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I advise people to know what their representatives are for. What is the goal here? If you want money, this seems to be a different process than if you want to use a credit card at a store, since many stores offer credit cards more than cash. Consignment stores are usually 50-50 and don’t do that, but resale stores like Buffalo Exchange will give you more store credit [than their cash].
I keep my credit in stores as a recurring shopping budget instead of taking out my wallet. I personally don’t consign much online, although all the new platforms are changing that for me. Unless it’s a big ticket item — it’s over $1,000. So percentages really matter, I usually sell on Tradesy and you can get about 90%. I’ve had a good experience so far, but you’re a seller and have a lot of questions to answer.
Interestingly, the most valuable brands are not really the exclusive and more artistic ones like Comme des Garçons or Balenciaga, but the mainstream ones: Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, then J. Crew, Lululemon and Theory and other brands. The greater the appeal, the more likely you will sell the item quickly.
What are some brands that people expected to bring in a lot of revenue, but didn’t for whatever reason – like oversaturation?
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What’s interesting is not that oversaturation doesn’t get people the money they want, but that for particularly interesting, unusual pieces, it requires a highly specific type of buyer. Some people think that exclusive collaborations or crazy fashion shows/coutures are what people really want, but really it’s just a small group of savvy people. Most people want what they approve of. (But I’ll take all your crazy concept work!)
How do you go about finding a really good, legitimate consignment store? Where is the most reliable place?
There are many to choose from! I tell clients that I recommend starting with high-end consignment stores, where items are more organized, and then go to places like Goodwill in terms of organization (if you’re brave enough, it’s one of my favorite stores. ).
When I travel, when I arrive in town, the first thing I do is check Yelp or ask my friends who live there which consignment and antique stores are the best.
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For example, if you are in New York, you are free to use amazing places. My personal favorites are Secondi, Junction and Reddz Trading in Washington DC around the country and around the world; Decades and the Badlands in Los Angeles; INA in New York (I always go to all five locations); Eva Gentry in Brooklyn; Feather in Austin; and episodes, Killiwatch, Kilo Shop and Didier Ludot in Paris, France.
There is a big difference between consignment and resale. Consignment is when your clothes are loaned to a store. This means that if it sells, you usually only get 50% if it sells, and if it doesn’t, the store will usually give you a chance to pick it up.
Your goods – you no longer own them, you get paid up front. But that is much less than consignment. For example, at the Buffalo Exchange, your goods will sell for less and you will get less, but you will get your money’s worth there. Many of these stores will give you less cash and more store credit. Start saving money by shopping for clothes, housewares, furniture and more at consignment stores. You can also send your car! Consignment is more than a second hand shopping experience. Here’s everything you need to know about consignment.
For example, you pick up a t-shirt at your local consignment store. Consignment stores sell your shirts for $30. The consignee (store) takes his 40%. You will receive a t-shirt for $18. Products are often discounted if the goods do not sell. If the product is still unsold, return the item to the owner for little or no charge.
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Stores will hold your items for a period of several months, discounting them incrementally if they don’t sell. Ultimately, if they don’t sell, you have to pick up your item. The commission for such a store can be between 20-60%, known as fair value percentage. Depending on the store, you may even get more cash back if you opt for in-store credit.
Consignment can be great if you have items in high demand or high quality. With low-quality items, it may be difficult to sell your item and even harder to make a profit. If you still need cash for clothing and/or furniture, you may want to consider the following other options before donating clothing or furniture.
Consignment sales are everywhere. Hundreds of people can gather in a flea market-style frenzy to buy items at pop-up consignment sales.
After paying a small entry fee ($10-20), you can usually get 40-60% back on everything in the consignment sale. All you have to do is drop off your item according to the online description of the sale.
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If you want to consign to Pop-Up Consignment, you need to carry high-value items or choose a large selection of items.
The difference between these four types is when you pay, if someone sells it for you, and when you give up ownership of the item.
If you want to sell your items without a middleman, you will need to use a classifieds listing. There is a fee to add an ad to your local newspaper or magazine, but many online marketplaces allow you to publish your listing for free!
Beware of scam listings and scam buyers on free marketplace listing sites. With no entry fee or consignment percentage, there is room for spam listings.
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For classified listings, all selling responsibility rests with you. You can take advantage of it and set it
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