As recent college grads with expensive tastes and a mutual love for fashion, we love nothing more than getting a great bargain when we shop. However, finding high-end pieces at below-retail prices is often very difficult - unless, of course, you know where to go to seek out these deals! Consignment shops are all over New York City, and we seem to pass a few everyday when we're walking to our offices or on our way home from work. We can't help but stop in to check out what special deals are happening, and when we find designer items at a fraction of the cost, we get overjoyed and are extremely proud of ourselves. If you're new to the world of consignment, but love the idea of saving or making money from buying or selling previously-loved items, then read on!
You may be asking: So what is consignment shopping?
To make the whole concept a bit easier to understand, we will break it down for you. In the world of consignment, you usually have 2 parties
1 - Consignor (person who owns the item
2 - Buyer (the purchaser)
When you walk into a consignment shop as a buyer/shopper, the items you see on the racks belong to consignors who work directly with the store to sell their items. When you purchase an item, a portion of the sale will be paid to the boutique, and the rest will be paid to the consignor, dependent on the terms and conditions of the store. Payment is not made until the item sells. As a buyer, you have hundreds of unique items at your fingertips at highly discounted prices. Pieces are often one-of-a-kind and can no longer be purchased in retail stores, which makes shopping a much more enjoyable and exciting experience since you never know what you will come across, and new items are added every day. As a seller, you have the ability to make some extra money selling items that you may want to get rid of in your closet that others would love to own! It’s really a win-win no matter what party you are here.
Whether you're new to the consignment world or have some experience shopping or selling, we thought it would be helpful to give you guys a few of our best tips for saving some serious cash on new pieces in your wardrobe and making some extra money selling items that are just sitting and collecting dust in your closets.
Tip: Follow your local consignment shop's store-specific Instagram account. Sometimes, they may showcase a few of the new or hot items they have in stores. Seeing new highly coveted items with prices and savings info on your newsfeed is definitely a new and exciting way to shop. Of course, you're not going to see a majority of the items that are in-store, but you'll get a small preview that may just prompt your next visit.
Tip: Create a budget. Impulse shopping is often accompanied by racing excitement and sometimes guilt. When you shop designer consignment, your bill can rack up pretty quickly if you aren't careful with your spending. You want to walk away feeling like you got a fabulous deal, but definitely not broke. Give yourself a limit of how much you may be willing to spend on each shopping trip,
Tip: Bring clothes with you. If you are shopping for a specific item, like a hot pair of shoes for the dress you already have, or a blazer for the sharp business casual outfit you have stowed in your closet, take the items with you when you go shopping. Items purchased in store are often final sale, which is fair to the original owners of the pieces who are selling through the store. You want to make sure that what you buy actually fits your needs and you can walk away confident in your purchase.
Tip: Wait for sales and promos. Of course, you're probably already going to be getting a steal with reduced prices when you purchase something on consignment. There are often sales during certain holidays or promotional periods where you can get anywhere from an extra 20-50% off on your entire purchase.
Tip: Have an open mind. The coolest part about consignment and thrift shopping is that you never know what one-of-a-kind treasures you may find. There's pretty much only one of everything, and if you spot it first, it's yours! Go into the store with an idea of the type of outfit you're looking for or even with no expectations, and you will find yourself pleasantly surprised by the selection available. Some of our favorite purchases are definitely the impulse buys!
Tip: Do your research. If you have old items in your closet and forgot how much you paid for them, do a quick search to find the approximate value of each piece and log it either on a piece of paper or in an excel file. You should know how much your items are worth to gauge whether you should accept what the consignment shop is willing to sell if for, and how much your portion of the sale would be. Certain items (like high-end handbags) may be more desired by consignment shops, and you may get a higher percentage of the profits if you take the consigning route.
Tip: Read the contract. After you bring your items into the shop and an employee looks through your pile, they will present you with a contract with terms and conditions as to how the sale will work. It will often detail what the items are, how much they anticipate selling them for, and the percentage of the profit that you should expect to receive should the items sell. Make sure you read the fine print carefully so that you aren't disappointed by the outcome of the end deal.
Tip: Not everything you bring will be accepted. Don't go in with high expectations that consignees will take everything you have. We have been to enough consignment shops as witnesses to disappointed consignors who are handed back 90% of the items they brought in with them to sell. Stores often have pretty strict guidelines in terms of what they are and are not willing to take. Sometimes, you may also be surprised that one store will take an item while another will kindly reject it since inspection is also subjective and in the hands of the person looking over your pile. This is just the nature of consigning, so don't feel defeated or offended if you leave with some of the items you brought with you.
Tip: Clean the items you bring. Many consignment shops actually require you to bring in items that have already been washed or dry-cleaned. It's a no brainer that the newer and cleaner your clothes are, the higher the chance the item will be accepted by the consignee and the higher the price they may put the items onto the shelves for. Don't go out and spend a fortune at the Laundromat, but definitely run it through the wash.
Tip: Choose the credit option. Not all consignment shops do this, but if the consignee you’re working with offers you the option to spend the money you would have received from the sale of your items as store credit, you may be better off with your savings if you spend your money shopping there anyway. The deal may be better than receiving hard cash, so just make sure you do the math and choose the option that makes the most sense for you!
Jess & Mel
* 2TA represents a consignment shop in our calculations below! :)
Look 1: Casual Chic
Look 2: Corporate Flare
Look 3: Work Life in the Financial District (Monday Blues)
Whether you’re a shopper or a buyer in the world of consignment, we hope we’ve shown you the infinite possibilities of outfits you can put together for any occasion, and the savings you can rack up with smart purchases.
Leave us your thoughts and experiences with consigning in the comments below :) We'd love to hear what you guys have to say!