consignment stores for clothesShopping for consignment store clothes? Why you need a consignment store strategy.

Whether you are new to shopping consignment stores for clothes or have been shopping at consignment stores for years, it’s time a strategy! I wanted to alternatively title this post “How I got a Trina Turk dress for $3.50.” Because that is how much I paid. More recently I bought an Ann  Taylor blouse for 15 cents… yes, you read that right. This is why it’s time to get strategic. *This strategy is for both women and men.

If you are familiar with my story and my business, you know that I shop almost exclusively from secondhand stores (consignment and thrift). With my approach, I have created accounts a multiple stores so that when I shop at those stores, I don’t pay for my clothes or I pay very little. How do I do this? Let me explain..

Strategy for consignment stores for clothes:

Do your homework.

Figure out the stores near you (if you are going to be using stores with physical locations) and go to their websites to read about their consignment rules. If they don’t have that online, call to ask or go in person. Questions to ask:

  • What brands they take, if they limit the items by when they were originally sold and if they have a minimum purchase price for the items they accept? By this I mean, some stores only take items that originally sold for $50 or more.
  • What is the percent you receive (that goes to your account) from the cost of your sold items?
  • Do they have the option of paying you (give you cash) for the items that sold? Typically, they pay you a smaller percentage if you cash out rather than spend the money at the store.
  • Will they will pay you right away for the items they take in for sale or if they will grow your account as your clothes sell?
  • Will they give you a discount by using your account to buy clothes at their store? One of the stores I shop at gives you 10% off the clothes you buy with your consignment account “money.”

Consign where you buy!

It’s pointless to consign your clothes and create an account at a store that is an hour from your house or has clothes you don’t really like or aren’t your size. The key is to create consignment accounts where you will actually shop. If you are new to consignment shopping or new to an area, gradually start visiting the stores and determine which ones you like, where you find clothes you like and then narrow down your options for consigning your clothes.

Prepare the clothes!

It’s important to note that you can’t just pile a bunch of clothes in a bag and take them to a store. Some stores won’t accept clothe brought in garbage bags. Most won’t accept clothes wth wrinkles. None will accept damaged or stained clothes. Ask if you would buy the clothes in the condition they are in, if not, then either clean and iron them or donate them.

Online vs. a physical store.

Online consignment stores such as ThredUP and Swap are popular. If you prefer to shop online, these may be a better option for you then going to physical stores. Both have rules on what they accept. ThredUP gives you the option of sending your clothes to them for donation or consignment. Swap allows you to order a pre-paid shipping label or request an “Inbound Box” from them and you can send them the items you want to consign.

Consign and wait!

Based on the results of doing your homework, you will know if stores pay out or create your account immediately (some do!) or if they will add to your account as your clothes sell (most are like this). So if you consign a bunch of clothes, wait for about one to three months to let your account grow. Then check in and see what your account balance is.

Be strategic!

Once you have done your homework and know where you would like to shop, become strategic! I consign my clothes in tiers. So we have a consignment store in Phoenix that is very particular about style, brand and how new the clothes are. So I always select (carefully) the clothes I will take there and I go there first. I then take the items they don’t accept to another consignment store where I shop. The second store is less particular about brand and the age of the clothing so they end up accepting more. Either way, I win because I have accounts growing at both stores.  There is a consignment store in Phoenix that will accept secondhand jewelry and most won’t so I know where to take my jewelry and grow my account there with just jewelry.

Case Study:

I worked with a client who asked me to create her consignment accounts for her. First I brought all of the clothes home and sorted them into piles based on what store I would take them to. I prepared them by ironing or hanging them out to release wrinkles, removed small stains and donated the items that were old or excessively worn. I then started with the higher end consignment store and whatever they didn’t take, I took to the next one. Later this client and I went through her jewelry, I then created an account at third store with her jewelry. The result? On our first shopping trip, she had over $300 in credit at the first store and didn’t pay for any of her ‘new’ clothes. On our second shopping trip, she again had over $300 at the second store and didn’t pay for her clothes. Obviously, she was thrilled that her old clothes paid for her new clothes. This is how you get a designer dress for $5 and a blouse for 15 cents.

Lastly, and this goes for whether you are shopping secondhand or not, shop with a list!! Ask yourself before you buy if you will wear the clothing or shoes for at least 30 wears. Shopping strategically will help you maintain your account balance, buy what you truly love and want and do it for significantly less than you would at retail.