This is a guest post by my reader Tanya.
I have always been a thrift store junkie. When my children were little, I made frequent trips to the thrift stores to stock up on cute clothing and toys. Once a year, I’d have a big yard sale and sell the outgrown clothes and toys, sometimes for more than I paid for them. I did this for a few years, and when a local consignment store opened, I began taking my clothing there, sometimes making a few bucks or getting store credit for future purchases. It wasn’t until I found a Dooney and Bourke purse at the thrift store for $3.97 that I began to shop strictly for the purpose of turning a profit. I took the purse to the consignment store, they authenticated it and listed it for sale for $70.00! I made half of that, which was $35.00! Not a bad chunk of change for a purse I got for under $4! I began scouring the aisles of the thrift stores in search of other items I could consign strictly for profit. While I don’t get rich doing this, it helps add to my fund and allows my teenagers to have the popular name brands without the price tag.
If you plan to start consigning, you need to know a few things first about your consignment store:
1) Know the store’s policy. Ideally, you want a store to pay you at least half of the sale price. Also, you’ll want to know when to pick up your unsold items. You may have the option of having the store donate them to charity after a period of time.
2) Know when your store accepts certain items. For example, they usually take spring and summer clothing in February and March, and begin accepting fall and winter clothing in late summer. Knowing this will keep you from walking away disappointed because they declined your items.
3) Know which items tend to bring more of a profit. Popular name brand items tend to bring more of a profit than other name brands as long as they are in good condition. Aeropostale, American Eagle, and Hollister, are some of the brands that I frequently consign.
4) Plan to consign a fairly large quantity of items. I shop frequently, but consign monthly. This way, I know all the clothing I’m taking is in the correct season, and since my store only pays out monthly, I am more likely to get checks each month. It also keeps me from having to make multiple appointments for one or two items each time.
When shopping for items to consign, there are certain things to consider such as the condition of the item. You may find a Hollister shirt, but if it has a stain on it or looks too “worn”, your consignment store isn’t likely to accept it.
1) Look for name brand items of good quality. The condition of the item is as important as the name brand. Only purchase items that are stain free and hole free, and have very few signs of wear. If you find a purse or shoes, make sure that you will be able clean them to nearly new condition.
2) Set a price limit. I am not willing to pay $6 for a tee shirt at a thrift store because I know that I will probably just break even when consigning. I try to keep the cost of the items as low as possible so I can make the most profit possible. I generally pay $2 to $3 for tee shirts and such, and will pay up to $5 or $6 for nicer items like dresses, coats, shoes and some purses.
3) Don’t limit your purchases to just clothing! Some consignment stores accept home furnishings and accessories as well. Check out those areas of the thrift stores and see if you can find something. Many times, with a little TLC those items look good as new.
Once you get home with your haul, go through it piece by piece, looking for any stains or tears once more. Wash the clothes, clean the shoes and purses and get everything as clean as possible. Iron the clothes. Yes, I said iron the clothes and put them on a hanger immediately. When you take them to the store, you want them as clean and wrinkle free as possible. The next step is to contact your consignment store and make an appointment to consign. It is important to keep your appointment time every time. This way your store becomes familiar with you as a consigner, and knows that you bring in good quality merchandise they can sell, making them and YOU a profit to add to your fund!
Tanya, a former Kindergarten teacher and mom to four great kids, decided to leave the work force in favor of staying home. Living frugally and finding creative ways to save money and make money enabled my family to maintain our two-income lifestyle (for the most part) on a one-income budget.