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Cash in the Closet

Forget the garage sale and try consignment

We’ve all done it. We’ve flipped through our closets only to find clothes we don’t love as much as we did in the dressing room. To make matters worse, there’s a tag dangling from some items.

What about the clothes that are given to you at your baby shower? Inevitably, someone will give a beautiful winter outfit to a December baby. There’s nothing wrong with that except that it’s a size 6 months and that puts your new baby in that outfit in the middle of June. What do you do with them? You could put them aside for a garage sale. But, you’re probably only going to get $1 for it−if you’re lucky. Fortunately, there is a better solution.

Consignment shops are becoming more popular and with good reason. They are full of great treasures at fabulous prices. It’s going to take some research on your part to find locations and understand the process. But, once you get it all figured out, you’ll wonder how you didn’t find out about them sooner. Here’s what you need to know before you get started:

Will the shop accept what you have?

Some locations will take everything from baby items to women’s clothing, including maternity. Some shops cater just to children or women. You may have to find a location that will take adult clothing and another for children’s items.

Will you need an appointment to bring in items?

Also ask if there is a maximum number of pieces allowed. This is not uncommon and it is done to allow the shop to keep up with their stock. Unlike a retail store, they are not ordering inventory. A Saturday afternoon following a few failed garage sales can set a shop back a few days.

What are the shop’s rules?

Most stores have specific guidelines. Many only accept certain name brands of clothing. Many do not accept clothes that are stained or faded. Hangers may be required. Toys may require working batteries. If a store is selective, it will help ensure you have the same opportunity for quality items if you make purchases.

How is pricing determined?

The store owner typically knows what price an item will bring. In some instances, you may be able to set a minimum for large ticket items such as a double stroller or crib. Typically, the clothing prices are determined by an employee of the store, based on several factors.

What is the policy regarding rejected items?

Some stores may go through your items and return unacceptable ones then. Others may take your clothing and give you a call when they are done. Some stores may give you a timeline in which you have to pick up the unacceptable items. If you fail to pick up on time, the store reserves the right to donate the items to a local charity.

When is payout?

Many stores have a specific date or time frame in which you must pick up your money. Also, ask if the shop offers store credit instead of a cash payout. Sometimes, the percentage paid is higher for store credit.

How long will the store attempt to sell your items?

The store may keep something on the rack for 90 days. They may reduce the price at 30 or 45 days. Determine how the store notifies you that there are items ready to be picked up. Some stores may have a working relationship with a local charity. Make sure you know the procedure. Otherwise, if you leave the items too long, the store may reserve the right to donate.

You should be asked to sign a contract which should explain the details of the agreement. This is to protect you and the store. Make sure to keep a copy for your records. You will need this in the event you need to dispute any policies or procedures.

Babies and toddlers grow so quickly. Consignment shops offer an opportunity to buy that $40 outfit that they will only wear once for $7. Most consignment shops will only accept items that look new. Sometimes, an item can be slightly worn but still too cute to pass up. In this instance, the store may accept it and price accordingly.

Consignment stores provide a great service. You should know that offering this service can be tedious. There are thousands of items that they have to keep up with and few are the same. You’re going to need patience. Try to remember that when you decided to bring the items in, you no longer wanted them. Don’t get upset if the store sold your firstborn’s baby blanket for $3. Stores can’t put a price on sentimental value.

Remember the effort it requires to plan and run a garage sale. The consignment shop that you choose will handle everything and then pay you! That’s simply wonderful.

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