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How Selling on Consignment Works for Me

Guest post by Carrie Hurst at My Favorite Finds

For about four years, I have been cleaning out my closet every season with the goal of taking items to our local consignment shop. At first, I thought it was cool that I could go in there with a lot of stuff I didn’t want, maybe make a little bit of money and they would donate for me what wouldn’t sell. It was a win-win situation.

Within the last two years or so, I’ve become more serious and focused on what I take to our local consignment shop or our local kid’s consignment sale and what I donate so that I can get the best value for my time and money. Here are some ideas if you are considering consignment:

Always be sorting your clothes.

I sort our clothes (kids and adults) in three ways: a) To sell, b) to donate and c) to throw out. I don’t wait until the end or beginning of a season to sort clothes into the above three categories; I do this on an ongoing basis.

I am also fairly realistic with my clothes. If I haven’t worn it at all that season or if it doesn’t fit right, I don’t keep it.

Be organized about it.

I keep a bin in my daughter’s room for things which will go to the yearly consignment sale. Anytime the kids outgrow something, or it is out of season, it goes in the bin if it’s able to be sold. I keep a garbage bag or a big shopping bag in the laundry room for the clothes I donate to our local thrift shop. Finally, I also keep a storage bin in the laundry room for the adult clothes that I take to the consignment store.

Be loyal to one or two stores.

When I walk into Worth Repeating, the local adult consignment shop I sell my extra clothes to, the lovely ladies there know me by name. They also know that I want to know what my store credit is, and they know that I’ll probably saunter through the kids’ section and probably find something. I love that. I am also signed up for their email list and their Facebook page. That way, I know for sure when they are taking items. Since I typically have a few things sorted and ready to go, I can easily take them with me and drop them off at Worth Repeating when I’m out driving.

Buy new with resale in mind.

If I’m going to make an investment in my clothes, I’m going to get my money’s worth. That also means that when I buy something, I consider the brand and quality of the item because chances are, it’ll end up at the consignment shop in a few seasons.

This is especially true of my kids’ clothes. I have learned that the brands such as Carter’s, Gymboree, GAP, Children’s Place, etc., not only yield more at the consignment shop, they also sell faster. That doesn’t mean I pay full price at these stores — I shopped at the Children’s Place last summer and bought a few things for my daughter during their Monster Sale for $0.99. I am sure that I can easily sell those items and gain $3 at least at Worth Repeating.

Also, I don’t take the tags off of something until I know for sure my children or I am going to wear it. Clothes with tags attached yield more because they are “brand new”.

Inspect your items before taking them in.

I consider if I would buy the item or not. I make sure the zippers work, the buttons are buttoned and that most of the clothes are on hangers. Not only is the consignment shop trying to make a profit, but so am I. The better condition the clothes are in, the higher they’ll price the item, making it more profit for me.

Be realistic about your profit.

I don’t consign my items to make additional income. If I get a month’s worth of weekly Starbucks visits out of the deal, I’m happy.

I don’t like having or going to garage sales — so I have the ladies at Worth Repeating do the job for me! Thankfully, they’re honest and will tell me what will sell and what won’t and I have learned to be okay with that.

I will call them about every two weeks and ask what my store credit is. Sometimes it’s $12, sometimes it’s $30. It just varies.

Take your seasonal items in as soon as you know they are accepting them.

When I get an email or see on Facebook that Worth Repeating is accepting items for the upcoming season, I’ll be ready within a few days to drop the bulk of my items off. I consider the fact that my items could spend a few days to possibly a week — depending how much they have to sort through and price — in the back room before it reaches the floor.

I want to get it there ASAP so that they can get it out and hopefully it can sell soon. They are on a 90-day consignment. So, after 30/60/90 days, the price is reduced.

If I take a lot of summer items in mid July — even though they’re still accepting them — more than likely I’ll get them back because they didn’t sell. Ninety days from mid-July is mid-October. By then, my items could be supremely discounted and people aren’t shopping for summer clothes anymore.

What will happen to your items that don’t sell?

At Worth Repeating, they’ll either donate them to a worthy local cause, or they’ll give them back to you. I decide based on the group of items I have dropped off if I want them donated or returned.

Most of the time, I have the kids’ clothes returned so I can possibly sell them at the local consignment sale. I usually have the adult clothes donated. I figure that if I didn’t want to wear it so much that I was hoping to consign it, or if it didn’t fit, I don’t want it back. But since I have a possibility of selling the kids’ clothes at the consignment sale or at the consignment store the next season, I go ahead and take them back to hopefully sell later.

Store your items neatly at the end of the season.

As I weed out what my children will be able to wear next fall/winter, I store the out-of-season clothes in plastic bins with lids. I wash, dry and neatly fold their clothes that are going to the consignment shop next fall and put them in a stack in the basement. I won’t remember what’s in those containers two weeks from now, let alone next fall. So, I make sure they are folded and ready to go when the season rolls around to take them to the shop.

My name is Carrie. I am a pastor’s wife, mom to twin boys and an 18-month-old daughter. I also work full-time outside of our home. I love to find ways to save money, be a better parent and a better Christian example to others. I’ve been a MSM reader/follower for over a year, and I’ve learned so much. If you have a chance, I’d love for you to visit my blog, My Favorite Finds.

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  • angie says:

    I do much of the same thing, but I sell our gently used items on ebay. I went to a local consignement shop a month or so ago, and they offered me $2.50 per shirt. I declined, and went home, sold them on ebay for around $10 each. It did take a little more time selling them on ebay, but it was worth it for that kind of money–I made $160 in about a month. Our consignment shops pay you about %30 of what they sell an item for–I’d rather have that extra 70% myself. Great article though!

    • Andrea Q says:

      $10 after eBay fees and shipping? That’s great!

    • $2.50 per shirt at a consignment store for kids’ clothing is phenomenal. Here in Columbus at Once Upon a Child you’re lucky to get $.50 to $1 per kids’ clothing item regardless of brand. I stopped taking items there because they paid so poorly.

      • peever says:

        We have a Once Upon A Child here as well and I agree that they usually pay around 50 cents per item, even for nice name brand clothes that are in excellent condition.

      • Carrie says:

        I don’t do OUAC either. Actually, Columbus also has a children’s consignment store called Trader Tots, as well. They offer you much better cash on the spot-but they’re also pickier about the items they take. At Worth Repeating, they don’t offer cash on the spot; they just inspect your items, take what they think will sell, and then price it and put it on the floor. Granted, it takes a few weeks to see a profit, but after getting into the routine of taking items in, I stop by on a weekly or biweekly basis to see what my credit is. They’ll either write me a check, or let me use it as a store credit. Most times, I have upwards of $10 or so in credit. I often leave with a few things for my kids, or sometimes for myself.

      • Michele says:

        Our OUAC offers much more than what others are reporting. I think it is also worth noting that if there a lot of that item in their store what it is worth to them declines since they could potentially take a loss on it.

  • Andrea Q says:

    Our local consignment shop actually has a list of brands that they will accept and it depends on the size. For example, they’ll accept LL Bean and Hanna Andersson in newborn to size/age 8, but will not accept those brands in the teen sizes because it doesn’t sell well.

  • Clare says:

    I sell my kids’ clothes, toys and gear twice a year at our local “Just Between Friends” sale. I am a pretty savvy shopper so I often get back what I paid (or more) for my better name brands like Gymboree. They take 35% of the asking price but since they do a terrific job advertising, I have no problem selling my things. A big tip: if you iron your clothes-ALL of them- you will make more money. It doesn’t take nearly as long as you would think, and those extra couple of hours made over a $100 difference to me. Not to bad for a few hours work! I can ask so much more for my things than I could get on Craigslist, and I like not having to hassle with shipping for Ebay. I just did one this last weekend and I will be bringing home over $400. It paid for our new laptop!

    • Jessica S. says:

      I do JBF too and it’s awesome! My 1st sale I made around $300, the next one I made almost $800 and in our spring sale this year I made over $1400!! There’s an “art” to pricing and understanding what sells, but the payoff is awesome. And I totally agree, make sure to iron your clothing and don’t bother with anything “questionable” in quality. I am pretty cut throat when deciding what to sell but the $$ (70% of your sales if you volunteer at least 4 hours) is SO worth it!

  • Spendwisemom says:

    Great ideas. I usually just donate our old clothing. Maybe I will try a consignment shop!

  • jamie says:

    I took in 5 name brand women’s items to our local consignment store and they gave me $10 credit. It paid for a new pair of jeans so I went ahead and did it. Consigning IS tricky though and I’m still trying to figure out how to make it work best on my end. Thanks for the tips.

  • Sarah says:

    I have a system where I get old wire hangers and when I pull my kid’s things out of their closets, I put them right on the hangers (which are required at both our consignment store and the kid’s consignment sales). I had my husband rig up a pole in our attic so that they are washed, ironed, and ready to be tagged. Not everyone has the space for this, but you would be surprised how wrinkled things can come out of a bin!

  • Meredith says:

    Anyone know of a good adult consignment store in Austin,TX? We go to kid-to-kid for the littles but can’t find one for the adults….

    • Amy says:

      There is one in Georgetown – it’s in the downtown area. It’s called The Exchange at Annarella. I took stuff there a couple of months ago and am supposed to check at the end of this month to see if my items have sold. I don’t have much of an opinion yet…but here’s the info:

  • Tina B says:

    I do this, too!! Carrie put my thoughts into words perfectly. We think alike 🙂 Most of the time, I use our money made at the consignment shop to buy my son’s next season of clothes. They have great prices there, and I make a good profit. AND I don’t have to do anything! Love it!! 🙂

  • Becky says:

    We don’t throw any clothing out-if it’s ripped or stained, I donate to Goodwill or Salvation Army. They bundle it and sell it to cloth recycling companies.

    • Melanie says:

      Yes! Our local Goodwill wants unwearable clothes for the fabric. I just found this out about a month ago.

      • Andrea Q says:

        Check with your local branch before donating ripped/stained items, because not all Salvation Army/Goodwill stores recycle clothing. It is not profitable in some areas and some have to pay to dispose of it.

  • Emily says:

    I sell all my gently used toys and clothing at our local consignment sale, Reruns R Fun. This sale is awesome. I just made $800 for the spring sale (they do the children’s sale twice a year and a grownups sale once in the summer). They do take 35% but that portion is donated to charity. Since they are a not for profit organization I can write off the 35% on my taxes. It is a win-win for everyone. There is no way I could have made $800 selling my children’s clothing at a garage sale.

    • Carrie says:

      Emily, I just made about $500 at our Mothers of Twin Club sale a few weeks ago. Isn’t it amazing how much you can make-with minimal work-by taking care of your kids’ clothes and making the effort to sort and sell them?! Good for you!

    • Jessica says:

      I love Reruns! It is a bit time consuming to tag everything but totally worth the effort!

  • Sylvia says:

    At the end of every season, I go through my 2 kids’ clothes. A lot of them I pass on to my niece & nephew but the ones that don’t go to them (or to Goodwill) get taken to the gently-used clothing store. The owner gives out store credit instead of cash but I don’t mind. I use that to get clothes for my little girl or to get gifts for the many birthday parties that my young ones attend. It’s a gift shop & gently-used clothing store and she has lots of Melissa & Doug products, which I prefer to give rather than the usual Disney-character gift items.

  • Jan says:

    The ecomony is so bad here the re-sale stores are no longer buying clothes- only selling.

  • Patti says:

    I have not had success with consignment on adult clothes. My favorite store that was honest and paid good prices closed because they could not stay in business. I feel like one store cheated me – said my items were stained and had to be donated (which was not true – the items were designer clothing that were in near new condition – we had checked each item together as I listed them). So I now sell on eBay or pass them along to someone I know will wear them. Be sure you understand the store policies as some of them can take you for a ride!!

    • B says:

      That has been my experience. I have also found most stores, here at least, like runway styles only. Also, the store credit wouldn’t go very far at all, many of their items are really overpriced in my opinion. I just donate mine to a Christian charity and shop at Goodwill. 🙂

  • Jen says:

    I agree that consignment can be tricky. I used to rock Ebay~averaged a PROFIT of $15,000 per year on my kids’ gently used Gymboree and Gap. That was before the economy tanked and before Gymboree and Gap had good sales and coupons. Back in the early 2000’s a 20% sale at Gymboree was great, but now I never pay more than 60% off.

    I do highly recommend seasonal consignment sales. Google them to find ones in your area. I work at one here in Indy and I made $1500 last month. 🙂

  • Shelah says:

    My mom & sister do this.

    I do have to say that this is one area that I “don’t glean the edges of my field”. I’d rather just donate our used clothes to the local women’s center.

    I buy the clothes on a good deal, use them for our purposes, and send them onto someone else who needs them.

  • Michele says:

    Nice post. I, too, am the mother of twins – two sets of them! (All grown up and in their 20’s now.) But when they were little, I belonged to our local Mothers of Twins club and we had great clothing sales twice a year. I used to sew beautiful dressy dresses (velvet for Christmas, polished floral cottons for Easter, even Communion dresses) for my twin girls and I could often resell them for more than it cost to make them, and I saved a lot of money buying their coats, boots and other costly items at the sales. But Carrie, you’ve inspired me – I really AM going to tackle those bins of clothing in the garage and decide what to do with them!

  • Thats a good idea of getting organised and being cluster free why keep clothing you don’t use.

  • Colleen says:

    What a great post! I was in utter shock after my first experience with a clothes sell. I had 2 tubs full of stuff, what I thought were nice clothes, and my husband threw in one name brand shirt and that was the ONLY thing that they wanted! Now I know that I should take things to more specifc stores for each genre, but oh the heart break I had. I really thought that I was going to come out of that with at least 20 bucks. Haha. I’m in the process of purging now, so this post couldn’t have come at a better time! Thanks 🙂

  • Beth Kennedy says:

    i consign all the time. i just received a check which will pay a bill this month. where i consign, i get 50 percent of the sale price and there is no consignment fee when you consign which you have to watch. some places charge fees to consign. i keep an ongoing store credit at my kids consignment place which is great when i need something for them and i also consign there too. i never go to stores and get stuff anymore.

  • Lisette says:

    For anyone interested in my experience/review of participating in our local Just Between Friends sale, I have an extensive write up here,

  • Shelly says:

    My main fear, especially with huge consignment sales such as JBF, is your items being lost or stolen. Anybody had such an experience??

  • sharon says:

    I sometimes consign but more often donate to charities…we get many hand me downs passed along, and I like the idea of just giving it to someone else..
    I like our local consignment shop and truly don’t care that it is a small amount..
    I work, have 2 kids, and don’t have the time nor the interest in ebay..

    good post though and interesting comments..
    the tax write off for donations works for us best..

    • Carrie says:

      The shop I consign at gives customers a choice-what doesn’t sell can be returned or donated. A very nice man from a local church comes and picks up the donations. So, I know if I donate it’ll go to a good cause-but I don’t have to worry about it. Also, they give me a tax receipt of what is donated. There is a website-I can’t think of it off the top of my head-that lists approximate prices for clothes that are donated so you can write it off on your taxes.

  • Jodie says:

    The consignment store here is maternity and baby clothes…they will not take nothing unless its high end clothes….Gap, Old Navy, Children’s place are not good enough anymore. It has to be QuikSilver, MEXX, etc. I had a friend try and drop her youngest clothes off there…they were moving and don’t need baby clothes anymore. Now her clothes are like new beautiful sets..with matching socks pinned to them etc. They wouldnt even look at them because they arent the “in brand”. She wasnt too happy about the way it was handled at all. They were all extremely clean and in good shape and they wouldnt even attempt to sell them for her, she had to take the time and sell them piece by piece on Facebook. You would think we were living in some high classed neighborhood in Toronto instead of a small city in Alberta.

  • Michele says:

    I take my kids nicer clothes to Once Upon a Child, but mostly we donate. As we always 100% of the time buy used. So by the time they are handed down to us and then through our large family, they are not worth reselling. However special occasion attire I do resell there and also toys. It works really well for us. Also if I see baby gear at a yard sale for a cheap price, I will pick it up when I know I can get more credit for it at OUAC. It helps offset our Christmas shopping, which I get from there mostly. 🙂

  • Emily says:

    Garage sales are the best to make the most money on reselling clothes , if you display them right.

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