con•sign•ment shop – noun

    - A store that sells secondhand items (typically clothing and accessories) on behalf of the original owner, who receives
       a percentage of the selling price.


Not up for a garage sale? Don’t think an eBay™ store is for you? Dislike the haggling that goes on when you sell/purchase something on Craigslist™? Consignment shops may be the perfect fit for you to sell your gently used items or even your handmade items. They also offer a great place for you to pick up a treasure for a stellar deal. 


If you’re in the market to sell at a consignment shop here are some tips:


  • Gather your items and give them a serious evaluation. Reputable consignment shops won’t accept items in less than “just like new” condition. Check items for signs of excessive wear, stains, tears or scratches.
  • To price your items a good approach is to follow the rule of ¼ of the retail price. Google™ Shopping has a great tool where you can put in any item and its description and you are able to see what the going price is.
  • Find a store that matches your personality. Many frequent consignment shoppers say the best way to do this is to sell at a store you’d also shop in.
  • Find a store that has been around for a while and has stability. Most consignment stores are locally owned and operated so it pays to do some checking.
  • Approach only stores that sell what you are trying to consign. If the store caters to baby items and you are selling older children or adult items chances are even if they take the items, they won’t sell in that environment.
  • Ask the shop owner the costs associated with consigning. Is there a percentage or fee per item, or both? Know what you are agreeing to up front. Remember the shop has considerable overhead and you are paying for the convenience of putting your merchandise in there and walking away. Pick a store that spends those seller fees on advertising, staffing with decent business hours, and merchandising/displays. It’s worth it in the end.
  • Know the stores markdown policy and item removal stipulations.
  • Know the store’s consignment timing – is it 30, 60, or 90 day consignment? Know the rules for items that are left and track your commitment.
  • If selling a handmade or craft item, choose a store that features displays of like items and not stores that sell by booth unless all booths are your genre and/or you have the time to put into merchandising/display yourself. Your items will sell faster and for a higher price if put together in displays with other like items.
  • If the store sets the prices of your items, know them. Before agreeing to leave your items you must be comfortable with what you’ll receive from them if they sell.
  • Don’t forget that in the fall and spring at churches or organizations there are typically consignment sales. Another option is to look into “traveling” consignment events that take place in your area.

Maybe you’re not a seller and prefer to shop a consignment store for a good deal. Here are some tips to follow when shopping at a consignment store:


  • Just like for sellers, pick a store that is reputable, been around awhile, and is your style.
  • When shopping pack a “consignment survival bag” including a notebook and pen, water, gum, a small snack, camera, a tape measure, magnifying glass, cell phone, batteries, and any expert guides you may need for your type of shopping.
  • Check over the general condition of the item – look for stains, tears, scratches, etc.
  • Always ask the staff of the store to explain what “AS IS” condition is when purchasing. What does it mean for this item you’ve found? No surprises!
  • Ask for the history of an item. Is it new? Was it handmade? Is it antique? Does it come from a smoke free home?
  • Smell things – sounds strange, but you can tell a lot from the smell of an item (even if it’s not clothing).
  • Know the store’s return policy – typically consignment stores are ALL SALES FINAL.
  • If shopping for clothing, try it on! If it’s not for you, have measurements of the person(s) you for which you are shopping.

Happy Consigning!


What are your consignment selling or shopping tips?
Have you ever scored the perfect item? What was it?