Keeping up with the fast pace of fashion on a modest budget is a challenge to say the least. Just when you think you're covered with an outfit for every occasion, at the sight of an invitation to something you suddenly find yourself with nothing to wear! Have you ever pondered your closet and wondered if you hadn't bought so many clothes you could have purchased the Louis Vuitton purse or the Gucci shoes, probably yes! Well you still can, at a fraction of the cost. With a few extra pennies from heaven to help keep your closet current, consignment may keep the fashionista in you afloat!
The re-sale market has grown exponentially with both brick and mortar consignment stores and online sites like Ebay and Poshmark. The life span of high fashion clothing continues to get shorter as the fashion industry thrusts an ever revolving slue of the latest and greatest styles at us from every direction. It makes for the constant cleansing of ones closet essential if you are to keep it within the confines of it's walls. Or, if you're like me and you're behind on your cleansing duties, it's busted it's boundaries onto an auxiliary clothes rack in the hallway!
Not all consignment stores are equal. Some accept only high end designer labels and some take in everything. The standard of what they accept also differs. Generally items need to be in good condition, clean and stain free, undamaged and still wearable. They also need to be season relevant. There is no point trying to consign a pair of Ugg boots in July, it would be like selling sandals to an Eskimo! Clothes must also have the brand label still attached. Without the label it's unlikely to sell so the store will probably not take it.
The best way to determine if your item will consign is to ensure it meets all the above criteria and you would happily loan it to a friend to wear. A piece of advice, don't attempt to consign items that are crumpled, first impressions go a long way when they are being assessed by both the store appraisers and buyers alike. Always iron your clothes prior to consignment.
Once you've established what your local consignment store takes, upon arrival with your bounty, each item will be evaluated for acceptance based on brand, style and condition. Be prepared for some scrutiny and perhaps even public shaming if you're a really sensitive soul! After all, these were once your cherished items and it's hard not to take it personally when someone at lets face it, a "second hand store", tells you they're not good enough! Don't be offended, give it to charity!
The store will determine the sale price. They normally have a graded scale for every day items and it's greatly reduced from the original price paid. For example, an $80 blouse in perfect condition from Nordstrom may be priced at $24 on consignment. If it's an item that the store has an overabundance of, like often happens with jeans, they will be much pickier about what they accept and may even price it lower.
Depending on the store's policy there will be a time frame given for items to sell. If the item doesn't sell within that period it will be reduced in price further, "on sale" so to speak! At the end of it's shelf life if it still hasn't sold, the store will donate it to charity. You should be able to request a charity tax rebate form from the store in this case.
Consignment stores do not have a return policy, you buy "as is". Therefore once a sale is made, you, the consignor can be paid. There is no wait period. Store policy determines what percentage you receive of the sale, it generally varies between 45% and 55%, which in the case of the $80 Nordstrom blouse (sold for $24), doesn't seem very much. But look at it this way, you haven't had to take any responsibility in the sale of that blouse or pay for any overheads like a shop front, packing supplies for shipping, staff wages etc! All you had to do was ensure it looked worthy of being borrowed by your best friend and subsequently take it to the store!
You'll be surprised how quickly your consignment funds can accumulate. In most cases you'll probably consign several items at once. I've had a few hundred dollars build up in the past when I've consistently consigned over a period of time, such that I was able to purchase a big ticket item from within the same consignment store - the Bottega Veneta handbag below. The advantage of that is very often you will get a higher return on your sale percentage. In the case of my local store, I was able to receive 55% of my sales instead of the 45% I would have received if I had taken the money home.
Just to clarify, consignment is a great way to get rid of old clothes and accessories from your closet, make a little money in the process, and find high end designer pieces at great prices. It's not a way to get a good return on your high end designer items, but it's an easy way to get some return - pennies from heaven!
If you have the time and are prepared for the responsibility that goes along with selling your items yourself online with companies like Ebay or Poshmark, you will get a much better price but it can be very time consuming and for the inexperienced seller can sometimes cause a few headaches, after all it is the general public your dealing with ha ha!
I payed $20 for this Nicole Miller bodice about a year ago when I took a friend from out of town into my local consignment store. It fits me perfectly, is completely flawless, and the sequined roses are just exquisite. I've never worn it since I bought it. I'm waiting for the right style of skirt to put it with and of course the right event to wear it to. I'm thinking a black taffeta high low hem skirt with tulle underneath so it flares out, or a tulle mid length skirt. Let me know if you have any ideas, I'd love to hear your suggestions!
I hope you found this article useful and may your pennies from heaven be many!
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Karen Serino is a life and style blogger, sharing fashion, fitness and fun for youthful women in their forties, fifties and beyond.
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Click the picture below to see my interview with the lovely Jonet Wooten from Fabulously Chic Over 50