A collaboration with Mia Lupo. This is not a sponsored post.
An Insider's Guide to Buying and Selling
The concept of buying and selling clothing consignment has been around for a while, but it has been trending upward in the United States and beyond since the Great Recession in 2008. It’s easy to see that shopper attitudes have changed with retail stores closing locations to either building their e-commerce presence or choosing to close permanently.
According to a recent study compiled by ThredUp, consignment shopping will continue to increase its market share in retail sales. In 2016, apparel resale, including both online and offline sales, totaled to $18 billion and is estimated to reach $33 billion by 2021.
The growing popularity for consignment shopping can be attributed to several factors:
- Customers are choosing to allocate their disposable income on experiences. This is especially true for Millennials and Generation Z who are burdened by student loan debt and have limited spending power than previous generations.
- Customers are becoming more aware of retail pricing. Now that customers have access to so much more information, they can do some competitive research to find products for the least expensive price.
- Customers are looking for more eco-friendly, ethical clothing options. There is a generational shift in the way shoppers examine product value.
There are clothing consignment shops that specialize in certain niches such as contemporary labels or designer labels, which creates an atmosphere similar to a full-price store with a cohesive concept. The consignment shopping model is ideal for the modern shopper—buying clothing consignment allows customers to shop on a budget and support environmentally responsible values, while selling clothing consignment allows the sellers to make some extra cash.
Tips for Selling Clothing Consignment
Be honest with the condition of your clothes. If you’re trying to consign an item of clothing that looks “well-loved”—irreparable pilling, missing buttons, light coffee stains—don’t bring it to a consignment shop. Trying to sell clothing in bad condition will discredit your integrity and will send a signal to the consignment shop that you aren't a reliable consignor to work with.
Schedule an appointment with the consignment boutique. The most important part of consigning your clothes is reading and fully understanding the consignment policy. Each boutique has different policies, but here’s are the key points that should be noted in your consignment agreement:
- Discount- You can’t be a real consignor without doing a little shopping! The discount may be small (10% is standard) but it can be enough of an incentive to buy using your credit.
- Profit split- The best case scenario is that the profits are evenly split between the shop and the consignor, but that’s not always the case. Although the split may be weighted in favor of the boutique—especially if you are selling premium merchandise at a designer consignment boutique—the retail markup could result in a higher profit.
- Item returns- If any of your items don’t sell within a certain time period, you should have the option to either be contacted to pick up your clothes or have them donated.
- Payout scheme- The consignment shop should have the procedure outlined for check requests if you prefer to withdraw your balance for cash. Few stores, if any, will pay in cash/check upfront or automatically send checks.
Do your research on consignment shops in your area. Remember that even if your items are in excellent condition, not all of your clothes may be accepted at a consignment store because of their inventory is full for the season or your clothes may not suit the store’s aesthetic. Look at the consignment shops accepting inventory, then compare it with the clothing you want to sell—it may be a wise approach to sort your clothes based on which consignment shop it will go to.
Tips for Buying Clothing Consignment
Try on the clothes. Whether it’s at a full-price store or a consignment boutique, it can be easy to make an impulsive purchase if the price tag is reasonable enough. Even if you know the brand, you don’t know if the garment has had custom alterations like a shortened hem or tailored waist. Sometimes there can be some damages only visible—it’s highly likely that damage like this happened when another customer tried it on, not because it was consigned as damaged.
Know the return policy. Because of the nature of the consignment business, merchandise is usually final sale—no full-refunds, no store credit, no exchanges. Some stores may be generous and offer store credit within a limited time period.
Ask to be put on a call list. Let your consignment boutique if you’re looking for a specific brand or item of clothing know and ask them to notify you when they receive the merchandise. It creates a win-win situation—you have the opportunity to get the merchandise before anyone else and it gives the consignment shop an opportunity to possibly sell incoming merchandise before putting it on the sales floor.
Sign up for email newsletters and follow social media accounts to get exclusive offers. The last thing you probably want to do is have another email in your inbox. Totally understandable. But it’s worth being in-the-know about new arrivals and discounts! You can always unsubscribe, or even reduce the frequency of the emails, if you are flooded with alerts.
Final Word: Buying and Selling Clothing Consignment Online
Consignment shopping online does exist, along with plenty of apps like Poshmark or ThredUp. However, unless the items you’re consigning are either new with tags or designer labels—or both—the return on investment will be low. The time and effort it takes to shoot decent photos of your merchandise, upload those photos, watch for sales notifications, then finally ship merchandise to the customer who will (hopefully) not return it.
About the Author
Mia Lupo is a Francophile lifestyle blogger and freelance social media consultant. Originally from New England, Mia received her B.A. in English Communications at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. During her time in college, she started helping small businesses streamline their social media strategies, rekindled her interest in French culture and kept her passion for style alive while working in contemporary fashion retail. Today, Mia continues to her work in digital marketing and writes about her travels in New England, New York City, Paris and beyond. Follow Mia on her Wordpress blog, Instagram and Facebook!