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Reader Tip: Unwanted Clothes + Consignment = More Space and $!

This is a great time of the year to clear the clutter in your closets!

Do you have clothes laying around your house that you haven’t worn in over a year? Maybe you’re more organized than that and have them in tubs or boxes but they’re just taking up space in your garage? Maybe you don’t know what to do with them and you hate garage sales. Don’t worry; there is a solution.

Consignment shops are stores that specialize in selling used clothing and occasionally other items, too. My guess is there’s probably one in your area somewhere. There are tons of them popping up ever since the economy slid downhill. What they do is take your unwanted clothing, display it in their store and give you a percentage of the profit if it sells! Sounds easy enough, right?

Every consignment shop is different and has its own rules and guidelines to follow. My suggestion would be to call around and ask what percentage they offer, what their requirements are and then compare them if you have more than one option.

Another good idea would be to visit the shop and check out their prices. See if you would be happy getting that amount for your clothing. Almost always your stuff will be marked higher than what you would mark it at a garage sale. So not only do you make more, you are also saved the time and energy that a garage sale requires!

Most shops offer at least 50% of the selling price which is a really good deal. Sometimes they offer you a higher percentage if you use your income as store credit. Let’s say you sell 10 items and your total profit is $20 at 50%. If the store has a 75% store credit policy this means if you spend your income in their store, they’re actually giving you $30 instead of just $20!

Consignment and resale shops are not only a great way to sell your clothes, but also a great place to shop. You can usually save over half of the retail price by getting it used. Sometimes, you can even find brand-new items for a fraction of the cost they were in the store!

Jessica and her husband are renting a small duplex until they can save up money for a house. She is the manager of a consignment shop and loves looking for deals. She just recently started her own blog with tips on saving money and finding good deals.

Have you sold items through a consignment store before? If so, I’d love to hear your advice, tips and ideas.

photo by photine

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45 Comments

  • You know I love consignment stores, especially for shopping, but I do want to give a word of encouragement before you go to sell. Do not take it personally if the majority of your clothes are rejected. With thrift shopping and “Frugal Fashionistas” being on the rise, store owners have gotten increasingly picky to the point that many are only taking clothes that are less than two years old. (Gasp…who only holds on to things for a year?)
    But what they do take, you’ll get some great prices for, so it’s definitely worth a shot.

    • @Jen@Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, yes, agreed, and with the flood of people consigning, you have to be picky. Our store has stopped taking drop offs for several months now because there has been sooo much. The increase, both in sales and consignors, due to the economy is very evident in our city.
      Ask if they donate any unwanted items, and ask for a tax deductible receipt. Very needy people really benefit from the clothing that is a little “too worn” for resale.

  • http://wichitacitymom.blogspot.com/2010/05/consignment-shopping-tips-and.html
    Check out my tips for shopping,
    and for consigning:
    http://wichitacitymom.blogspot.com/2010/05/how-to-make-money-with-resale-part-2.html
    I have 7 years experience working for a local store and put together these guidelines for my readers.
    Hope you find them helpful!
    chandra

  • Tami says:

    I’ve sold my kid’s clothes, unused toys, and baby items to Children’s Orchard, a kid’s consignment store. I usually take the store credit because they offer me a higher price. With my store credit, I got a practically new stroller, name brand clothes with tags still on it, desk and chair, games and books. I love consignment stores. I can clean out my closets and come back with needed items. : ) I have to check into the men/women consignment stores.

  • Jessica says:

    I haven’t used traditional consignment stores but I have used the type of stores you sell your stuff to and they then sell it.

    In my area there are two different chains that specialized in trendy-ish tweens-adult clothing including maternity clothing. A few years ago I took several huge piles to these stores and made about $200. While it wasn’t a lot it was more than I would have made donating it.

  • shawn'l says:

    You can use this tip to go along with your new years resolutioin to lose weight as well. A few years back as I lost weight and could no longer fit into my clothes I would consign them. Then each time I lost another ten pounds I would get “new clothes” without breaking the bank. I would just use the credit I had waiting for me in the store. This works especialy well if you are losing more than say 10-20 pounds as you can keep consigning the clothes you bought back as they don’t fit. Pretty sweet deal.

  • KatieBee says:

    This is a good time to begin to cull through your spring and summer clothes and prepare them for consignment for Feb and March. Some shops won’t accept fall and winter clothes past January, so I box those up and wait for August to sell them. You get more money when you consign as the season begins.

    For higher end items (bags, shoes, work apparel and evening wear), take them in the 2nd and 3rd week of the month (or call and ask when additional markdowns take place), as many stores begin their markdowns of regular apparel then, so having your new items in store gets you multiple looks from customers, yet your newer consignment will not be at markdown yet.

    Designer shoes and handbags tend to get more money when accompanied by their original box and/or dust bag. Everything should be in clean, very wearable condition in order to make money. And check with your consignment shop about what happens to clothes that are not sold, as some will donate the items at the end of 30 or 60 days; others offer you the option of picking your items up (which you then could garage sale, ebay or donate).

    I encourage people to take 5 or 6 good items into a store to see how the process works and get a feel for the store and their policies. I have found it more profitable to work with only 1-2 stores, as they get to know you better and can market your items when they have a relationship with you. It’s in their best interest to sell – they make just as much profit as you do.

  • Emma K says:

    I haven’t every sold any of my clothes to a consignment shop.
    BUT… I do love going to the consignment shops for kids clothes that meet twice a year. There are so many website that have the consignment sales in different areas. It is great for consigning your own kids clothes and buying new clothes for them. Just Between Friends is aone of the great ones.

  • Tasha says:

    I can’t get the link to Jesica’s blog to work.

    Thanks

  • Celeste says:

    I live in Atlanta and twice a year there are huge kids consignment sales throughout the metro area. For the winter the sales are around August and for the summer the sales are around March. The sales are done through churches and also through neighborhoods. I live in a neighborhood that does a consignment sale. I have participated in it for the last few years. I have made a lot of money, and at the same time saved money on clothing for my children.

  • Samantha Valenzuela says:

    Check to see if there is a Just Between Friends Sale near you! We have one here, and it is neat because you can volunteer to help out by working a shift- and in exchange you get to shop early. The more that you volunteer = the earlier you get to shop. There are great bargains, every item has to go through a tedious inspection. You can also consign your items there too! It isn’t just clothes, you can sell/find/buy books, dvds, toys, furniture, almost anything baby related, and even craft supplies! It is truly AMAZING!!!

  • We have a local store that sells children’s gently used clothing. A few weeks ago, I took in 2 tubs of children’s clothing. They returned about 90% of it, but they paid me over $75 for what they kept. My husband and I laughed hysterically, because I am a Budgeting Mommy! Many of the high-end name brand clothes they bought were purchased for change at yard sales and they paid me several dollars for shoes I purchased for $10 at an outlet store that my daughter wore for a season at school… I, LITERALLY, bought clothes for our children, they wore them a season and then I sold them and broke EVEN. I pretty much clothed our children for free that season! 🙂

  • Sandy says:

    I had a great experience with consigning my old clothes. I had done this about 12 years ago for the first time and I made a fair amount of money from the clothes I had. I never went back in, just left it with the shop because I was told anything that didn’t sell in 3 months would be pulled from the sales racks and given to a women’s shelter. Super! I not only cleaned out all of my closets but, I made some cash and a donation all in one fell swoop!

  • Kristi says:

    I had to laugh when I saw this article on my Facebook news feed. I just took my clothes to a consignment shop today! I only take items in excellent condition and donate the rest to local thrift shops. Most of my clothes (99%) of them came off clearance racks for a few dollars at stores like Ross, Tj Maxx, Kohls, etc. I might even MAKE money by taking them there after I’ve already worn them because I paid so little and take good care of them. OxiClean power packs work wonders for stains and make white clothes look brand new. I would suggest washing your clothes or if there are a lot, wash the ones that will be worth the most. If the sorters/owners see dirty or wrinkled clothing, they may not take it. When I bring decor items like dishware and accent pieces, I always give them a quick swipe with a paper towel and some Fabuloso (dollar store!) cleaner. I take care of my items and they know that what I bring is clean which means less work for them.
    Be sure to take items in season! Most consignment shops won’t take holiday items unless it is a couple weeks prior to the holiday. They are usually flooded with last year’s unwanted decorations and run out of room.
    My local consignment shop allows me to place items on hold until they go through the items I bring in, and then I can pay for “new” things with my store credit.
    Don’t expect to get paid quickly. The one I go to takes about 1 week to sort through.
    Consignment stores have sales once in a while that are as much as 75% off. Some stores even get so full that they put FREE items outside and advertise them on Craigslist. Sometimes there are new items with the tags, so don’t assume Free means junk! 🙂 Happy Shopping..Recycling!

  • Thank you for this post, gave me a great idea for one of my own and referenced yours as well. I like using the consignments and listed this post on my blog, but what about the left overs? You can donate, but you only get so much of a deduction every year to do so. I kind of have a goal to keep as much income in the house as I can this year. Reuse things and re-purpose as much as possible. If anyone wants some great ideas on how to do this, look up my post. Again, thank you.

  • I love to pair down and keep our clothes under control because clothes can get out of control easily with our family of five. I am always selling on consignment or passing them on to family and friends. I always use good quality detergent so they stay in tip top shape. I use tide. When I get ready to sell them I keep outfits together and try to keep them buttoned up and organized as much as possible. When I go to sell them I am also super friendly. I usually can make some great cash. Good luck! 🙂

  • Trixie says:

    I’ve done consignment shops several times and have had fairly good luck. It sure beats taking the time to sell clothes on Ebay or a garage sale. In our area we have a consignment store that carrys plus sized clothing only — people come from miles around to shop there, so the turn over is very good. My clothes usually don’t hang around long enough to get marked down. I’ve also had good luck, reselling something there that I bought from them — now that’s a bargain!

  • brookeb says:

    I take my older work clothes to a local consignment store when I’m no longer wearing them. Sometimes it’s because they are too big, or just because I’ve added other things to my wardrobe (my rule is if I have more clothes than hangers, some of the clothes have to go!) I wear a unique shoe size (10.5), so I often order my shoes online because only a few manufacturers make them. If they’re clearance and don’t fit, it’s often more cost-effective to take them to the consignment store vs. paying for return shipping. Anything I don’t pick up after 90 days goes to a women’s shelter in the area.

  • Lori says:

    I also am a fan of Children’s Resale shops. I took items just this past week (a good sized tub) and even though they didn’t take all of it, I received a check for $129! Our store is mostly interested in name brand items, but my clothes have generally been purchased at Goodwill at a cost of no more than $2.50 per item so I’d say that’s a pretty good turnaround! I love that my kids can be clothed so cheaply! Probably the best advice is being sure to follow their schedule of accepted items (my store has an email list so THEY contact ME- no extra work on my part! Plus, Bonus: they often send coupons by email so you get an even better deal if you purchase from them as well.) If you take items out of their schedule then you only receive store credit. I also make sure items are clean, buttons are buttoned and zippers are zipped- just to be sure all items are in good shape. I sort them by boy clothes and girl clothes, too, since I have both. They don’t ask for that, but I assume that makes it easier to go through. Whatever is rejected by them goes into the next annual garage sale at our house.

  • Colleen says:

    I organize a Southern NJ’s LARGEST and TOP Rated Kids Consignment Event BEST DRESSED FOR LESS (http://www.bestdressedsale.com) We have more than 300 families consign their gently used kids clothing and gear each Spring and Fall and thousands of shoppers. Seasonal Kids Consignment Events have many advantages over consignment stores: 1) The consignor decides what to sell (within sale guidelines) 2) You set the price on your items 3) You make much more money (consignors earn a base of 60% and up to 70% of their sales) 4) Consignors at these events get to shop a private presale (and get first dibs on all of the bargains). It is absolutely worth the effort to participate….once you do you will never go back to a “traditional” consignment store again.

  • april says:

    Ive never tried to sell at a women’s shop…I tend to stick to jeans and tshirts and wear items till they fall apart!

    Kids clothes, however, are awesome to resale! I know my crew is kind of hard on things but a couple times a year I have enough to sell, usually making $30-$100. It’s nice to have some extra money, then whatever they dont take goes into the garage sale pile. Most times I take credit for more, because it’snice to have that there if needed(which reminds me, I still have $13 at one store!) if I have to find something for one of the younger 2.

  • Kasey S says:

    That link didn’t work. Do you have the correct one?

  • Lisette says:

    I have a pretty extensive review of my experience with Just Between Friends here — http://buyonsaleandsavethedifference.blogspot.com/2010/09/just-between-friends-review.html

  • Carrie says:

    I’ve been consiging at our local shop for about five years. I just turn my store credit around and get things for our kids…sometimes for myself, but mostly for the kids. One thing I’ve learned, is when I buy something new, I but it with “resale in mind”. In other words, is it a brand that will last my kids for awhile (at least a season or more), and still be in good enough shape to resell it for a decent amount. I get a lot of things for my kids from Carters, Children’s Place, etc. off the sale rack, and their rock bottom sale prices with coupons, and turn around and sell them, often the next season, and usually break even or make money. Another tip, I keep a storage tote in my laundry room. When I wash something that is outgrown and needs to go to the consignment shop, it goes in the tote. That way, it’s ready to take to the consignment shop, and I know it’s washed and ready to sell.

  • Sherri says:

    My learned lesson- take a good look at the store you’re planning to use. Would you shop there? Is it crowded with stuff- too crowded? I took almost 80 pieces of clothing last fall to a local store (that has been around a LONG time) and ended up selling only 12 of them in 4 months. Then I had to spend HOURS digging through overcrowded racks to find my unsold stuff to get back. It was not worth that much effort for the ~$25 I received.

    On the other hand, I used to sell with another store (which then moved to another town) which wasn’t as large or as crowded. The owner was pickier about what she took in, but I sold a higher percentage and it was much easier to reclaim my unsold items.

    • Lauren says:

      @Sherri,

      I completely agree. I’ve had that same exact experience, digging through the racks for my things, only to find out they’ve donated them already.

      I suggest talking to other mom’s in the area to find out what are the best shops in your area

  • Amy says:

    I have been doing this for awhile with my children’s stuff and just recently did it with my own clothes as well. For my children’s clothes I take them to our local, “Once Upon A Child” store. They look through the stuff and then offer me a price for the items they would like to purchase. They also have a program where for every 10 dollars you spend, you get a stamp. Once your card is full you get 15% off your next purchase. I try to use this at the beginning of the school year and again in winter and summer. I will take a lot of clothes in at once, shop while they are going through my stuff and then do a “trade.” Whatever price they were going to give me for my stuff, they take off the bill once they ring my new stuff up. It’s been a lot of fun and a great way to get really nice clothes for a great deal.

  • Carollynn says:

    I have done the consignment thing with my kids stuff, but I am usually very disappointed in what the stores are willing to pay me for them. I know the clothes are worth so much more than they are giving me. I no longer sell to consignment stores, but gladly give my children’s clothes to friends/family with children younger and smaller than my own. They are so grateful and I feel the clothes are given more value by giving them away than the value the consignment stores are willing to pay. I may not get cash for them, but I get an even greater reward: the satisfaction and blessing of helping others.

  • missy says:

    I have been doing the consignment thing since this summer. I have better luck at a small one in town. The chain one that we recently got here is picky about what they take. They charge you a fee, and don’t give your stuff back so they get the tax write off when they donate it.
    The smaller locally owned one is awesome, I take my tubs in she goes thru it, sells it, calls me when my 3 months are up to come and pick my stuff up that did not sell and on top of it all gives me cash. So far I have made about $75 with her, I think the chain one I have $4 there after the $5 that they charged me.

  • Hey All! My mom and I became quickly obsessed with consignment sales after the birth of my son! We started a website that lists & rates all of the sales to help other moms. Our listings have comprehensive dates & maps, so it’s way thorough.

    http://www.ConsignmentMommies.com

    We also have an AMAZING group of moms on Facebook that share their stories, tips and ideas: http://www.facebook.com/consignmentmommies

    I hope this helps some of you break into this fabulous savings opportunity! I love getting name brand / quality items for next to nothing!!!

  • Rebecca says:

    This is helpful as just last night I was looking for consignment stores in my area to get rid of some clothes that have been slow to move on Ebay. My problem is that my area stores tend to be extremely high end – as in, they refuse mall brands and only accept brands such as Dolce & Gabbana and Manolo Blahnik (ikes!). I’m having a hard time finding a place that will accept my mall brand clothing (Express, Limited, Banana Republic, etc). Any suggestions?

    • Kristi says:

      @Rebecca, Have you tried posting them on Craigslist? You could make a “lot ad”, as in all items in one ad, especially if they are all about the same size and just charge whatever you want to get out of them or best offer. Be sure to add pictures, and list any tears or stains, etc. They don’t have listing fees so you get 100% of the money. I’ve made a couple hundred dollars selling items on there that I would have donated. I usually give it 2 weeks, and what doesn’t sell goes to a local thrift store. You could also try sites like SwapStyle.com, where you swap your clothes for other clothes. 🙂 Good luck!

      • Rebecca says:

        @Kristi, After selling through a TON of stuff on Ebay, I made an attempt at Craigslist with larger items & also to see what I could sell without paying listing fees, but I have had absolutely no luck. I posted about 25 items to start and after a month have only sold ONE item! I know a lot of people have really good luck with Craigslist, but I think I need to adjust my selling strategy or something!

  • melissa martinez says:

    I live in the houston area and ive noticed its getting expensive in the consignment stores..most of the time its cheaper at department stores sales. I live in an apartment and have so much saved up to sell…i’ll probably sell at a flea market

  • Lisa A. says:

    I have had very little luck with consignment stores, and I have tried several. I get excited when they eagerly take my clothes, only to find that months later, they still haven’t sold, or at best, have sold so cheaply, I only net a dollar or 2. I think the stores are overrun with merchandise now – everyone is taking in their unwanted clothing. So the odds of selling yours are down.

    • Beth says:

      @Lisa A., This has been my experience as well. I have found it best to donate to my local Mission and then shop there and Goodwill stores. I’ve found really great stuff for cheap! And helped a good cause with my old stuff.

      I also feel a lot of the consignment stores are way over priced, at least in my area. Even with store credit I find it cheaper to buy at a Department store on sale than used!

      • Kristi says:

        @Beth, The store I bring mine too pays cash & gives store credit before they sell. I would suggest listing them on Craigslist so you can control the amount you make.

  • Patti says:

    With my baby/children’s clothing,I used a church consignment sale and had great success. This past year I tried two stores for my clothing and some of my mother’s designer clothing. The “country” store was very honest and sold nearly everything – making a great profit for both of us. The “town” store put my clothing on the racks but did not sell much and when I went back to see if I could find them, they had disappeared. When questioned, I was told my items had stains, etc. and were unusable. I found this quite unusual since the owner and I had both gone over them with a fine tooth comb before the consignment began. I feel like I was cheated and will certainly not use them again. Unfortunately, the honest store has gone out of business…

  • Sadie says:

    As an owner of a women’s resale boutique I was delighted to find this article in my inbox today! I’ve had my store for a year and a half and it has been a fun and challenging project. Thank you for the article! Do you mind if I add a link to this on my website and facebook page?

  • Jennifer Nauman says:

    I love, love our local children’s consignment shop. I have 2 children (5 years and 6 months). Especially with my baby, who outgrows things quickly, I’m able to make quite a bit on what I sale. I usually leave the money I make as store credit. Then, when my kids need new clothing or “kid-gear” of some kind, I shop with my credit. I very often leave without paying anything out-of-pocket. I highly recommend trying it if there is a good shop nearby.

  • Aj says:

    Swap.com is a great place to buy and sell.

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