Nikola

Consignment Shops: The New Black for Back-to-School Shopping

In budget on July 12, 2010 at 10:26 PM

Have you shopped for “Back to School” yet?  My spending frenzy began last Friday, during freshman orientation.    My son is a college student this year, and between tuition, books, room and board, parking fees, non-essentials, essentials, and miscellaneous fees, my budget is on life support!  A $32,000.00 gorilla is on my back and come August 18Th, the ape better be fed.   

Last August, my quest to earn a few extra college bucks (and avoid a future stint in the poor house) led me to an often overlooked source for raising back-to-school revenue – Consignment Shops!

According to NPD, a global market research firm, 2009 saw a dramatic drop-off in back-to-school “spending intentions”.  Moms and dads are holding on to their hard-earned dollars; frugal living is vogue.  But, while traditional retail sales are declining, consignment shops are seeing huge increases in sales.

As we prepare to send our little, and not-so-little ones back to school, consider stimulating your economy by cleaning house.   Instead of giving away electronics, furniture and clothes, try consigning those items; you’ll be surprised at the amount of cash you earn.

Ten Q & As to Get You Started

  1. What is a consignment shop?  Think of a consignment shop like a garage sale, but without the typical headaches of dealing with bad weather, making change, haggling with customers and keeping an eye on shoplifters.  Traditionally, consignment shop owners sell your unwanted stuff with the understanding that the consigned items belong to you  until the items sell.
  2. What types of items can I consign?  Browse through home fashion magazines and think about trends; these are the types of items that sell quickly.  Stay away from trying to sell grandma’s console TV or mom’s disco boots from the 70s. 🙂
  3. Can I consign my daughter’s broken IPod?  In a word, no.  Items should be clean and in good working order.  Ask yourself if the item is worth more than five or ten bucks.  If it is, chances are someone will buy it.
  4. Do items have to be new?  No, gently used items are great.  Make sure that whatever you bring has all its pieces, and that clothes are clean, pressed and free of holes.  If you’re bringing large items like couches or bookcases, they shouldn’t be worn-out or scratched.  It’s also a good idea to test electronics before trying to consign them.
  5. I paid $125.00 for a pair of Cole Hahn shoes and won’t take less than $75.00.  Can I set the consignment price?  It depends on the shop.  Some owners work with you to set a selling price.  Shop owners know market prices, their customers and what types of items sell.  Work with the owner to come up with a price you are both comfortable with.
  6. How much commission does the shop receive?  Again, it depends on the shop.  This is a great question to ask before bringing in your items.  Some owners do a 50/50 split; others receive 25% or more.  If you decide to consign with a shop, make sure you understand all the terms in your contract, to include  payment policies.  Ask for a copy of your contract and a receipt listing all the items you brought in.
  7. How much money will I make?  Don’t expect to get rich; consigning items is an effortless way to make extra cash.  Sit back and enjoy the experience. 
  8. I have a lot of high-end items to sell.  Are there specialty shops that I can work with?  Do a bit of research before venturing out.  Some shops specialize in one or two areas like, baby items and maternity wear, or furniture and household accessories, haute couture, antiques and vintage or electronics and tools.  Find the store that has the niche you’re looking for.
  9. Can I consign anything? No, most shops won’t take food, alcohol, weapons or illegal items.
  10. What happens to my items that don’t sell?  Some shops allow you to take your items back; others may buy the items from you.  Check the terms of your contract.

A few more tips…

  • If you’re the entrepreneurial type try buying quality items for  low prices at thrift stores, garage and estate sales; then sale the items at your favorite consignment shop.  
  • Try shopping consignment shops for back-to-school bargains.  They’re a great budget-stretching resource for everyone.
  • Consignment shops are a great venue to sell and get exposure for your handmade crafts. 

While I haven’t earned enough cash to feed my pet for the year, I’ve managed to pay for Reid’s books and even a few bananas.  🙂     Thank God for scholarships!

Have you shopped at consignment stores?

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  1. I love this article, Nikola! Very well written and very useful. May I also add that you don’t look old enough to have a college-aged son. 🙂

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Hi Jen,

    It’s always a pleasure to have you “in the house”! Thanks for your kind words; this post was fun to write.
    Re age: I think I have a new best friend! 🙂 – Thanks

  3. As a single mom of 4 kids I really appreciate your great tips. I also lost my job last January, so I am always looking for ways to make some extra cash and save. I have gone to yard sales, thrift stores and purchased things to sell to consignment shops. My best find was a little girls Catimini dress for $1.00 NWT, and I took it to my local consignment shop and make $60.00!!! that was my woo-hoo!
    Marie
    http://www.momdealoftheday.com

    • Hi Marie,

      Consignment and thrift stores are valuable sources for finding deals; good for you for scoring such a big hit! Today, I bought a Coach purse for $3 at my local Goodwill store. Next week, it will be on the shelf at my favorite consignment shop!

      Thanks so much for stopping by and for leaving a much appreciated comment! It’s such a good feeling to know I’m posting articles others find useful.
      -Nikola
      PS I just took advantage of the Votre Vu offer on your site – thanks!

  4. check into ebay for the broken ipod. i’ve sold broken iphones for well over $100 on there.

  5. Hi Carrie,

    Wow! Great tip; I never would have thought of Ebay. Thanks for sharing this information. – Nikola

  6. This is simply a great post… It’s sooo real and so now for so many of us today. I’m also following you on twitter from MBC. Stop by and visit me at Healthy Living & A Balanced You. http://www.AliciaHunter.net

    • Alicia,
      Thanks so much for stopping by and “weighing – in”. I’m glad you found this post useful. – Nikola

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