Although you may be done with them, your clothes – particularly designer pieces – may still have value when you learn how to sell to consignment or second-hand shops. “This becomes a sort of art form, buying and selling vintage clothing, even old sweatshirts and jeans. It’s fun and a challenge to find the right store and to market your clothes so they make you a return,” says one consignment store junkie. It may take a while to find the right store for your clothing and to build a rapport with the owner, but it can really pay off in the end. After all, you’ve already gotten your money’s worth out of your clothes by the time you’re ready to sell them. So anything you make is a nice bonus.
The first thing to do is start to visit local consignment shops or second-hand stores that pay for your clothing in your area. Go in as a casual shopper and get a feel for the store, what clothing they feature, how the clothing is presented and how the employees interact with the public. If your goal is just to get rid of what’s filling up your closet, the first place you find may be right for you. If you’d like to make consignment shopping a nice little side business, you’ll want to do the research. Clothing should be presented in orderly piles or neatly hung – just like in a department store, and the employees should be good sales people who are interested in helping customers. Another very important factor is how the shop smells. Some stores smell like Grandma’s attack. Stay away from those because shoppers who will spend money sure aren’t going to spend an afternoon browsing in a mothball smelling store.
Once you’ve determined which shop you’d like to do business with, take your clothes in garment bags or neatly folded piles to the owner. The better your clothes look, the higher they can be priced. It’s not necessary to dry clean everything, but do sew on missing buttons and be sure to ask if the store sells anything with minor stains or damages before bring those items along with your better clothing.
Develop an open rapport with the owner and employees. If you think a price for a certain item is too low, tell them. They want to make money too and will usually wok with you to reach an agreement. Remember that you’re not locked into anything until you sign the consignment contract. Most stores split the profits 50/50 with you.
It’s a good idea to divide your clothes into three categories before taking them to a shop. The first are the highest end with designer labels in tact. The second is for clothing in a mid-range of prices and anything that is damaged. You may want to scope out two different shops – one for designer clothes like Prada or Gucci, and another for department store brands. The third pile is for everyday item like jeans, tee shirts or workout clothes. These may be easiest to drop off at a Salvation Army or Goodwill for a tax write-off.
If you’re a shopper, you now know how the sellers choose which shops to do business with. Look for the same qualities in a shop when you want to buy to ensure you get the best deal for your dollar.
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