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This Is How to Make Money at Consignment Shops

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Running low on cash? Selling clothes through consignment shops can help you clear out your closet and make a profit. Now you can learn how to prepare clothing for consignment stores and increase your chances of selling.

Consignment shops provide a way for a store to sell clothes and accessories for you. As the seller, you bring your clothes to the shop and the owner decides how much each piece is worth and prices it accordingly. When and if a customer buys the clothing, the seller and the owner of the shop will each get a profit. Usually the seller is charged between 25 percent and 60 percent commission so that the store can make a profit.

In order to increase your chances of the consignment shop accepting your clothing and of people purchasing your items, make sure that the clothing is presentable and of decent quality. People aren't going to want to purchase clothes that look extremely worn out or like they should actually belong in the trash.

Repair any clothing with holes or tears. Check for damage such as broken zippers, missing buttons or loose threads. If you wouldn't wear the item or lend it to a friend because of the condition, it probably isn't in good enough shape to sell at a consignment shop. The newer the clothing looks, the better. Even if an item is really awesome, if it has a lot of damage, it won't get sold. However, make sure the clothing is worth the amount of time and effort made on repairs.

If your clothing is in good shape (or is in good shape after repairs), sort it by season. Most consignment shops will only take clothing that is in season or that is about to be in season. If you have winter boots you've outgrown and June is coming up, save the boots in a safe place until cooler weather comes around.

Once the appropriate clothing for the season is chosen, make sure it is washed. Depending on the item, you may need to iron as well. Check your local consignment shop to see what their policies are. Some places want you to bring clothing in on hangers while others would rather have it folded in boxes or bins. Adhere to the policy to save you and the owner some time and to increase your chances of selling your clothes and accessories.

Consignment shops often have 30, 60 or 90-day time slots available for you to try to sell your clothes. If your clothing item doesn't sell within the allotted number of days, you can either pick it up from the store or allow the owner to set a discounted price in an effort to sell. You will receive less money for discounted clothing, if any at all. If you pick the clothing up, you can try selling it elsewhere or donate it to charity.

Consider the amount of time it can take to sell clothing at consignment shops before taking your items there. It can provide profits in the long run (a month or two), but the shops are usually not a good way to make quick money.

Actual shops aren't the only place to try to sell your used clothes. Online sites like eBay, Amazon and Craigslist also provide an easy way to make money. Exchanges can be done in the comfort of your own home and your item is open to a much wider population of buyers than a small, local store. Online transactions can also provide you with a profit within a few days of putting your clothing up for sale. If you do sell, be prepared to deal with the shipping and handling costs.

Selling clothes to consignment shops can also give you an excuse to browse and buy clothing for yourself. The owner makes sure that the used clothing is clean and in good shape before allowing it on the racks and often, the items are one of a kind in the shop. The clothing isn't as expensive as regular retail stores and if you look hard enough, you're sure to come out with quite a few good finds.

Some consignment shops specifically look for vintage clothing from decades ago, which can also be fun to shop for. It's not uncommon for old styles to come back in fashion and it can also be creative to mix an item from the past with your modern outfit. Shops that look for vintage clothing can also provide an opportunity to sell some of your parents' or grandparents' clothing.

If you aren't having any luck selling some of your clothing to consignment shops or want to get rid of it fast, consider donating it to stores like Goodwill, Salvation Army or a charity that collects items of clothing for those in need.

Selling clothing to consignment shops or online sites can benefit you as a buyer and a seller. By following the shop's policies and making your clothes as presentable as possible, you increase your chances of purchase, and therefore profit. Selling your used or unworn clothing not only leaves space in your closet, but it gives you the opportunity to make money on clothing and accessories that you no longer want or wear.

By: Janey Dike, University of Maryland

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