Questions To Ask Before You Sell Stuff On Consignment

If you’ve got some stuff that you think is too valuable to give away but don’t want to go through the effort of a garage sale or selling it online, consignment is a route worth considering. By giving a cut of your sales to a retailer who stocks and sells your items, you can make money off your inventory with little effort.

Claiming to be a “sort of expert” at consignment, the Minting Nickels author shares her secrets. Here are some questions to ask retailers before you enter into an agreement:

* What is the consignment fee and sales split? The fee comes off your total sales, and the split is how much of the price you’ll receive. Don’t expect to receive much more than 40 percent of your sales revenue.

* Do you need me to hang around? Some managers want to sort through your stuff with you, while others are fine with you just dumping things off and leaving.

* How and when will you pay me? Ask how long it takes to convert a sale into a check, and what time of the month they mail them out. Confusion about these logistical aspects can spoil your relationship with the store.

In Which I Become an Expert Consignor [Minting Nickels]


Edit Your Comment

  1. shibotu says:

    Not impressed with the expertise.

    I’ve consigned a lot and 50% is common and they’ll often pick up your stuff if your merchandise sells well for them. Also make sure if you want your unsold stuff back or donated.

  2. GMFish says:

    60%?! What the F…. I’ve sold many instruments and equipment at local music stores (instruments) and they’ve only kept 20%.

    If someone is keeping 60%, you might as well sell it quickly on Craigslist at a very reduced price.

    • DariusC says:

      Agreed, 80/20 is the normal split for ANY venture in which one party finances something or puts something up front and the other party does the work to sell it. Since when do producers give retail stores 60% of the profit? I understand the scale is different, but when I do the work of producing something and all you have to do is sell it, you get at most 20%. And that’s if there is nobody else in the supply chain.

    • Jane_Gage says:

      Guess you’ve never dealt with a gallery. You have to pay for your own promotional items too.

    • Geekybiker says:

      The few times I’ve used consignment, I’ve only paid 20% as well. However those were for high value items like firearms,etc. I’ve never tried consigning used clothes, etc.

  3. Cat says:

    Well, 40% is better than the 0% you’ll get when you sell your stuff on eBay…

  4. Don't Bother says:

    I love selling old clothes in resale and consignment shops, and I also love shopping at them. Eighty percent of the clothes in my closet come from these sorts of places.

    • maxamus2 says:

      Admit it, you aren’t talking about a consignment shop, you’re talking about Goodwill stores….

      • Don't Bother says:

        : / Actually, I have two consignment shops within a three mile radius of my house.

        Haha, but yeah I also go to Goodwill too, you got me

    • jesusofcool says:

      I used to be just like you but I think the economy has really killed the places I used to love. So many more people are consigning (including a wealthier crowd) which means they’re far pickier about brand names and recency so I haven’t been able to consign nearly as much. Additionally, I’ve found my favorite stores to be far more picked over, and fewer real bargains – with clothing sales in stores beyond what I’ve ever seen, the used prices are far less worth it.

  5. Kaonashi says:

    I can only assume that the OP is factoring the consignment fee into the equation when he’s saying you only keep 40%, even so that’s getting ripped off. If you’re paying more than 30-35% including the fee I’d question whether you’re choosing the right consigner and/or whether consigning is the best choice.

  6. comedian says:

    The one place I know about within a few towns of me charges an amazing 60 to 80%, leaving sellers just 20 to 40%.

    At those rates, if you itemize deductions you can get a similar return by simply donating them to charity.

    Oh, it’s website is a geocities like disaster in case anyone wants to enjoy seeing a big pink trainwreck.

    “Double Take” because we take double the commission!

  7. oreotookie says:

    Another important thing to ask about is if they will call you if a customer negotiates a price. I sold a stroller and car seat at a consignment shop and called them when I received a check for less than half of what I was supposed to get. She told me a customer nitrites the price down about half and she never called to talk to me. She also decided to split the entire stroller system up piece by piece and sell the separately (including the car seat base). I ended up getting $30 when I should have gotten about $90. Not everything sold (who wants to buy a carseat has without he carseat). Still ticks me off to this day.

  8. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Hell no, I want ALL the money I sell it for. I thought about doing the flea market thing but I can’t afford the booth rental. It’s insane.

  9. shibotu says:

    I wonder if a business like a coffee shop or bar is allowed to host a community yard sale. It seems like it would draw customers who might buy stuff from everybody.

  10. SheTastesLikesCigerecxh says:

    I have worked in the consignment ‘industry’ for 4 years. A few things I would add, which to some may seem condescending, but hey, I wouldn’t list them if they were not a consistent issue.

    1. Make sure to ask about sales, and when discounts will be taken on items.

    2. Do research before you consign. Do not bring baby items to a store that focuses on teens. Do not bring work wear to a ‘hipster’ type boutique store.

    3. Pertaining to #2, look around the store you are bringing your items to. Get a feel for prices and the items that sell well.

    4. Keep track of your paperwork, and ask for/go over the contract. Cannot tell you how many times I have had customers complain about policies.

    5. This is not going to be a big money making venture for the average consigner. Nor should it be. It is used clothing. Different markets make for different values placed on certain items.

    6. Lastly, and the most obvious, do not bring in underwear, stained, or smelly clothes.

    Other than than, consignment stores rock, and I love working in one!

  11. ChuckECheese says:

    Phoenix had a rash of consignment furniture stores go under a couple years ago, taking everybody’s stuff and money with them. Terri’s Consignment was the most notorious of these places.

  12. crispyduck13 says:

    40% is quite normal for small ticket items like clothing. My preferred local consignment shop will go up to 50% if the sale is over $100. She also will not sell an item below a certain dollar amount if I specify one with her. They donate all unsold (unless it’s furniture or expensive) to the local Salvation Army which is great since it saves me the task of doing it myself.

    As for the “advice” above it’s really more of an intro to consignment for the first timer. My best advice after years of consigning is to choose a store that you like shopping in, one that is organized, clean, classy and well-run. If you choose to consign at a shop that gives you a 60% cut but is a mess with snobby employees and above market pricing you’re not going to make much money.