How do consignment shops work (2024): how to sell your clothes at a local consignment

We may earn a commission for purchases through links on our site, Learn more.

Share This Article:

Consignment shops operate like pawn shops, selling used items for their original owners, who get a cut of the sale price.

If you’re keen on updating your wardrobe affordably or making some money off clothes you don’t wear anymore, consignment stores are worth considering.

Consignment stores provide a wide range of gently used clothing, including casual, business, and evening wear, all at significantly lower prices than local department stores.

Certain stores offer the option to “sell” your clothing back to them for cash or store credit.

What is the difference between a consignment store and a thrift store?

“Thrift shops” and “consignment shops” are often confused, but they’re actually quite distinct.

Consignment shops are businesses that make profits by reselling items. Many focus on reselling fashion items like clothing, shoes, and jewelry. However, others may specialize in other things like furniture or home goods.

Consignment shops work in two main ways:

  1. They buy items from sellers and resell them at a higher price.
  2. They take items on consignment and pay the original seller a percentage of the sale when it happens.

On the other hand, thrift shops are usually non-profit organizations operated by charities. Instead of buying items to resell, they rely on donations, which they sell to customers.

Consignment shops use profits from sales to fund charity operations and support their mission, so they tend to carry higher quality items than thrift shops.

For unwanted items like old clothing, thrift and consignment shops are good options. For valuable items like designer clothing or handbags, consignment shops are your best bet.

If the item is less valuable or a consignment shop declines, a thrift shop will likely accept it as a donation, preventing it from ending up in landfills.

What is the difference between a thrift store and a second-hand store?

A “second hand store” can mean different things to different people. Essentially, it’s a place that focuses on selling used items like clothes, shoes, bags, furniture, etc. This category includes thrift stores and consignment shops, although they operate differently.

Thrift shops operate as non-profit organizations, selling donated items to support their charity’s mission. They don’t buy the items they sell. The funds generated from these sales contribute to the charity’s objectives. Consignment shops, however, are profit-driven businesses that buy items from owners and resell them at a profit.

Both thrift and consignment stores deal in second-hand goods, but their business models differ. If it’s a for-profit venture, it’s likely a consignment shop. If it’s run by a charity as a non-profit, it’s likely a thrift store.

How does a consignment shop operate?

When you sell items like clothes, accessories, furniture, or appliances through consignment, you typically bring them to the store or send photos for larger pieces. The consignment stop then decides whether to accept your item or not.

If accepted, you drop off the items at the store, get a receipt, and leave. The store decides how to display and price them. You receive a percentage of the sales monthly. Sometimes, you’re paid a fixed amount upfront for accepted items.

How can I sell something on consignment?

Selling on consignment can have some differences depending on the place, but here’s the basic idea:

  • You give your items to a consignment store (either online or in person).
  • The store handles displaying, promoting, and selling your items.
  • When your item sells, you receive a portion of the selling price, with the rest going to the consignment store.

If your item doesn’t sell or sell within an agreed-upon timeframe, you can usually retrieve it.

How much do consignment stores pay?

Consignment shops offer two payment methods:

  1. They pay you a fixed amount upfront.
  2. They pay you a percentage of the sale price when your item sells.

Clothing consignment stores typically pay modest upfront fees for quality items in good condition. These fees usually range from 40% to 60% of the expected retail price of the item, whether paid upfront or upon sale. Some shops offer a higher percentage if you choose store credit instead of cash.

What sells the most at consignment shops?

According to Kiplinger, upholstered and leather furniture tends to fetch higher payouts at consignment shops compared to other types of items, depending on factors like brand and quality.

How much money can you make from a consignment shop?

The amount of money you can earn from consignment shops depends on:

  1. Quality and retail value: The better the quality and higher the retail value of your item, the more money you’re likely to make.
  2. Demand for your item: Is your item trendy and in season? If so, consignment shops are more likely to resell it quickly and at a higher price, increasing your potential earnings.
  3. Percentage paid by the consignment shop: Different consignment shops offer varying percentages of the final sale price to the seller.
  4. Acceptance limit: Some consignment shops may have limits on the number of items they accept from sellers.

Advantages of Consignment

Selling on consignment is a good choice for individuals or businesses without physical stores, and it can happen online too. Websites like eBay function as consignment shops, where sellers showcase and sell their items for a fee. This eliminates the need for sellers to build their own websites, attract customers, or handle payments. Similarly, products sold through TV channels, like as-seen-on-TV items, operate on a consignment basis.

Sellers who lack the time or inclination to advertise their products, deal with buyer inquiries, research pricing, and manage the selling process themselves often see consignment fees as a worthwhile investment to entrust the task to others, especially if they can negotiate a reasonable fee.

Disadvantages of Consignment

One major drawback of the consignment model for producers or owners is the high commission charged on sales by consignment shops. For instance, galleries often take a 50% commission on artwork sales. This means a significant portion of the profits goes towards covering this fee, reducing the earnings for the owner or producer.

Another drawback of the consignment model is the loss of control for sellers over how their products are marketed and sold. When using this model, the consignment shop typically manages all marketing and presentation aspects for the products. This could result in products being presented in a manner that the owner or producer doesn’t agree with. While some consignment agreements address such concerns, selling on consignment generally entails relinquishing a significant amount of control to the consignment seller.

Read Also:  13 Places where to sell used watches near me in 2024

How to find “consignment stores near me”

To find a consignment store nearby, just enter “consignment stores near me” into Google. It will display Google results for consignment shops in your area.

Check out the reviews, where you can find experiences from both buyers and sellers. This can give you an idea of what to expect at each consignment shop.

National consignment stores near you

When searching, you might discover consignment shops exclusive to your city or national chains nearby. Some well-known chains include:

Plato’s Closet

Plato’s Closet is a popular consignment franchise operating across all 50 states. They purchase gently used clothing and accessories catering to teenagers and young adults. Customers can receive cash or opt for store credit, which offers a higher value. Additionally, they accept certain items for online sales.

Locate a Plato’s Closet near you.

Buffalo Exchange

Buffalo Exchange, like Plato’s Closet, is a clothing consignment brand across the USA. They purchase gently used clothing and accessories for men, women, and children, offering cash or store credit, with a bonus for store credit. There’s a 30-item limit, and they accept some online sales and drop-offs.

Look up a Buffalo Exchange store in your city.

Once Upon a Child

Once Upon a Child, a subsidiary of Plato’s Closet, offers a convenient option to sell gently used children’s clothes, including popular brands.

Find a Once Upon a Child store near you.

All these businesses want to buy top-notch, clean items in good shape and currently in fashion. If they can’t sell it, they can’t make money. So, bring your best stuff!

Online consignment shops

Consignment shops are embracing online platforms for sales, mirroring traditional retail trends. Buffalo Exchange, a brick-and-mortar consignment clothing store, is one such example, now facilitating online and mail-in sales.

What is online consignment? How do online consignment stores work?

Online consignment works similarly to traditional consignment but with a twist. Instead of bringing your items in person, you mail them to the consignment company using a special mailer. Once received, the company evaluates your items and offers you a payment. If your items aren’t accepted, they might be returned to you. Payment for online consignment usually comes through Paypal, check, or bank transfer.

ThredUp

ThredUp is a top online consignment store specializing in women’s and children’s clothing. It offers payouts of up to 80% of the item’s retail price. However, some users have reported strict item selection criteria and very low payouts, sometimes less than $1.

Poshmark

Poshmark is an online consignment shop like ThredUp and Mercari. Sellers list items for sale, and buyers browse the platform. Initially focused on clothing, accessories, and shoes, Poshmark now includes jewelry, toys, art, and home goods. Sellers pay a 20% commission.

The platform boasts over 100 million items for sale and a community of over 60 million members.

Mercari

Mercari operates as an online consignment store, similar to ThredUp and Poshmark. It’s dubbed “The Selling App,” where users can list items they no longer need or use for sale. Mercari accepts a wide range of items as long as they can be shipped.

The RealReal

TheRealReal stands out as an online consignment store focusing solely on upscale and luxury fashion. They charge a commission ranging from 30% to 50%. The platform can set prices and offer discounts for your items, impacting your earnings but potentially boosting sales opportunities.

Crossroads Trading

Crossroads Trading offers a modern way to sell your clothes. You can sell directly at a physical store, receive store credit for purchases at Crossroads Trading, drop off your items, or send them in. Additionally, you can get paid on consignment, earning up to 70% when your item sells, compared to 30% if you choose cash.

Luxury consignment

You can probably find luxury consignment shops nearby. Ask people you know or look them up on Yelp or Google. These shops might also be called vintage clothing stores, antique shops, used clothing stores, or thrift shops.

Clothing consignment

According to TheRealReal’s 2022 Luxury Consignment Report, these brands consistently rank in the top 10 across all seller demographics.

  • Louis Vuitton
  • Gucci
  • Prada
  • Chanel
  • Rag & Bone
  • Tory Burch

Designer handbag consignment

Looking to resell authentic designer luxury handbags from top brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Coach, Hermes, and Dior? These are reputable sites that don’t deal with counterfeit bags:

  • Rebag
  • The Luxury Closet
  • 1st Dibs
  • Stock X
  • TheRealReal
  • The Vestaire Collective
  • Fashionphile
  • Yoogi’s Closet
  • Bag Borrow or Steal

Furniture consignment

You can find furniture consignment stores in your area, also known as vintage furniture stores, antique shops, or used furniture stores. These places accept various items like antiques, vintage furniture, household items like china and silver flatware, and art. You can easily locate them by searching on Google and checking reviews.

Additionally, there are online furniture consignment platforms like Everything But the House, Chairish, and 1stdibs.

Jewelry consignment

Both jewelry stores and antique shops are potential buyers for your estate and vintage jewelry, offering either a fixed price or a consignment deal.

Alternatively, you can sell your diamond jewelry through DiamondsUSA or gold, silver, and platinum items through CashforGoldUSA, which also accepts coin collections, scrap, and bullion.

Discover the current gold prices and find out how to sell your precious metals in today’s booming market. Explore reviews of leading online jewelry buyers like CashforGoldUSA and DiamondsUSA. Both offer quick payouts within 24 hours and boast A+ ratings from the Better Business Bureau.

Wedding dress consignment

You can sell your wedding dress at local or online consignment stores such as ThredUp, Nearly Newlywed, Borrowing Magnolia, Once Wed, and PreownedWeddingDresses.com.

Which consignment store pays the most?

ThredUp offers payouts of up to 80% of the sale price, but it’s selective. Reviewers often gripe about top-notch luxury brands being rejected, sometimes ending up on platforms like eBay.

Consider alternative consignment platforms such as Poshmark or Mercari for potentially better deals.

Is consignment a good idea? Are consignment shops worth it?

Discover numerous reputable consignment shops where you can swiftly exchange your used items for cash or a slower payout in anticipation of higher earnings for stores that pay upon purchase.

While how to dispose of your used belongings is a personal decision, outsourcing the sale of your clothes, furniture, jewelry, or other valuables to a reputable retailer can be a smart choice. They have the expertise to effectively advertise, display, and sell your items, maximizing your chances of making a sale.

Ready to sell? 5 tips for selling on consignment

Selling your quality used items can be worthwhile if:

  1. Your item is in excellent condition and of high quality.
  2. It’s a popular brand or style in demand.
  3. You can market it effectively through platforms like eBay or local consignment shops or are open to using online consignment services.
  4. You’re not in immediate need of money and can afford to wait.
  5. You’re emotionally and financially detached from the item and are prepared for the possibility that it may not sell or fetch the anticipated price.

The bottom line

Selling your used clothes, jewelry, household items, and more directly to a thrift store, buyback site, or the seller themselves is typically more advantageous. It’s faster, requires less effort, and allows you to quickly declutter items you no longer need or want.

Fortunately, there are reliable buyback businesses locally and online offering quality services.