Consignment Shopping

Everybody, no matter the income, enjoys a bargain. So it’s no wonder there are so many consignment and thrift stores.

According to the National Association of Resale & Thrift Shops (NARTS), there is a combined total of more than 15,000 resale, thrift, and consignment stores in the country. No matter your social stature, there is a place for you to find great items at bargain-basement prices.

What’s more, these stores offer a wide selection from house wares to clothing to shoes–both new and used. If you’ve never been to one, you may want to give it a try. Before you begin to browse the shops, here are a few pointers to remember.

“While all shops that sell gently used consumer goods are resale shops, there is a distinction. Thrift shops are owned by nonprofit organizations. Consignment shops accept merchandise on a consignment basis and pay the owners a percentage of the selling price when and if the merchandise is sold. Resale shops are often stores that buy merchandise outright from the owner,” says the, executive director of NARTS. Every shop serves a different consumer demographic.

I have been telling you all throughout this website that shopping at consignment stores, resale and thrift shops are the way to go.

There was a time when people wouldn’t admit to putting on or dressing their children in second hand-clothes. Times have changed, however, not only are more and more people admitting to wearing hand-me-downs, they’re paying for them as well! In fact, for some, second-hand shopping has become quite the hobby.

One of the best places to shop for previously-worn apparel is the consignment store. A consignment store is almost like a thrift store; the difference is that the merchandise isn’t donated. Instead, the profits are split between the store and the person who brought the item into the store, also known as the Consignor. The process is easy enough. The Consignor brings her merchandise into the store where the manager will take a look at them. If they’re approved, the items are put up for sale for a period of a few months. If the items aren’t sold, the Consignor can either take them back or they can be donated to charity.

Consignment store merchandise is considered a good buy because the goods aren’t donated. Since this is so, stores tend to be pickier about the items they’ll put out for sale. This means they’ll be in better condition. For instance, clothes must be in pristine condition with no tears, frays, rips or stains. Also, if the stores carry furniture, household items, toys, etc, they must look as though they just came out of the box. If something is falling apart, there’s a good chance, it won’t be accepted for sale at the consignment store.

If you’re interested in buying from or selling to the consignment store, here are a few tips.

Location matters. Consignment stores in higher-end neighborhoods tend to carry higher-end merchandise. If you’re interested in purchasing a $150 dress for $40, this may be your place. Upscale neighborhood consignment stores are also great places for locating formal ware, wedding dresses and other higher-end items you may wear only once or twice.

Be aware of your surroundings. The condition of the store, in most cases, reflects the condition of the merchandise. Is the store brightly lit? Is the merchandise displayed in a positive way or is it dusty and battered? Have they been in business long? It’s your job to stay on top of your account. If you consigned goods, it’s up to you to check on its status with the store owner. Call or drop by to see if there’s any money due you. Make sure you have a signed agreement along with a list of all goods consigned by you. Have the owner sign this list as well.

Many consignment stores will automatically donate unsold items to charity after three or four months. If you don’t want your items donated, make sure the store owner is aware of this. Perhaps you can try your luck at another consignment store. If not, someone less fortunate can end up with a beautiful item of clothing, which isn’t a bad thing either. Know the store’s return policy. Some stores accept returns, but most don’t, and some stores even charge a restocking fee if you are returning the items. Be absolutely sure that you want that particular item before walking out the store with it.

Most stores sell according to the season. You won’t find a bathing suit in January or a sweater in July. If you shop at the end of the season, you might find some bargains as the shop tries to clear its racks to make way for the new season. If you’re considering bringing items to the consignment store to sell, it’s a good idea to call the manager or owner and find out when the best time to drop off your goods might be. You’ll want to have the manager’s undivided attention so as to get a fair price, plus it’s not fair for you to bring in two hundred pieces of clothing when the store is at its busiest. Call ahead to see if an appointment is necessary.

At the consignment store, everyone is happy. The owners and consignors are earning money, and the smart shopper is buying merchandise in excellent condition – at a discount. The next time you’re going on a shopping spree, why not try the consignment store? You never know what kind of bargains you might walk away with.