Consignment store. The phrase makes me think of goodwill. I will be honest, I have never had much luck with selling at a consignment store. I've tried Twice as Nice (they buy, but tend to give me less than $1 each item and only buy about 10% of them). I think the buying 10% is just something they do because I can bring in a great box or an okay box and really it tends to be the same. That is the problem with a consignment store. Lots of stuff to buy, and it is hard to move it out the door that quickly. I've sold at a consignment store with Apple in the name… can't remember what it was called. I've sold at a mom and pop consignment store that started out as a craft store, but quickly became a consignment store. You could rent a booth and sell your own products or you could put them on consignment. The best consignment store was Half Price Books. They at least gave you a decent amount for what you were selling.
In every case, you get a little, which is nice, but it is never a lot. I tend to spend more while I am in the store (another problem).
Consignment store… and the Decluttering Challenge
But, I just started the decluttering challenge and one of my own challenges I am tackling this year (to do with that) is actually getting the clutter out of my house. Not in a garage sale pile. I really do not make much at a garage sale anyway and half the time I decide against it or can't do it at the scheduled time (community sales) and I have to wait with my junk for another year. Looking at it that way, it's hardly worth the $50… Let's see, even storing it for only a year, I might make $5-$10/month for that storage space in my house. With junk I want out! Things I no longer need or want.
Nope, not having it, this year it is going, going, gone. If I have clutter close to a garage sale date then I am willing to hang on to it for a month or two. Otherwise, the clutter is going.
So in comes the dreaded… consignment store.
There are a few other options: ebay, craigslist, forums. But, a consignment store is easy and you have the option of donating things they do not take. That is always nice because it is a one stop place.
Selling at the Biggest Consignment Store: Just Between Friends
This year I decided to try Just Between Friends. I have bought things from them for years, but I have never tried selling. To be honest, it seemed like too much work. But this year, in my quest to get things out of my house for good, I decided to give it a try.
Just Between Friends is not a typical consignment store. There are two sales a year. The owner will find and rent a location (the local Tucson chapter rents out the convention center although it was at a church when it was smaller. In Kansas City, they were also in a convention center). The sale will go on for 3 days then it is gone. It focuses on children's items, but also takes “mom” stuff, maternity, and junior sized clothing.
You can sell kids stuff (toys, books, games, supplies), maternity consignment, junior clothing (I do not recommend it – the target audience is much younger), and a mom's corner (changes based on your local area).
How to sell at Just Between Friends Consignment Store
Selling always seemed too hard to be worth it. But, it turned out to not be as bad as I thought.
- Sign up for a Just Between Friends account
- Log in and go to “enter my tags”
- Write descriptive tags for each item, price it, and decide if you want it to go half price on the last day and/or be donated at the end (both options require a check in a box).
- Print the tags on cardstock
- Prepare your items
- Drop them off at the designated time
- Pick them up at the end if you do not want unsold items donated
Each Just Between Friends area will donate the remaining items to a different place. The website for your area will tell you where it is going. You can pick up your items after the sale if you do not want them donated. It is easy to mark if you want them donated or not (it is just one check box when you are making your tags).
Preparing: Just Between Friends Consignment Store
This was the step that always stopped me from selling. It wasn't as bad as I thought though. Really, I would have spent just as much time preparing for a garage sale (and I would have had to sit out in the garage all day attempting to sell said items).
- Clothing needs to be on a hanger. Put the tag on using a safety pin and put a line of packing tape on the bottom of the tag to keep it in place. If it is pants or a skirt it also goes on the hanger. You will need to attach pants/skirts to the hanger using safety pins.
- Toys should be cleaned up and tags taped on. I put groups of toys in ziplock baggies (which are supposed to be taped shut) and taped the tag to the front. I used saran wrap on toys with pieces to keep everything together. You can get cheap ziplock baggies at the dollar store (they even sell the great big 2 gallon ones if you have some larger stuff that needs bagged).
- Everything with batteries needs to be working. They will check it. The dollar store comes in handy again, those batteries work fine for the sale and are cheap.
- They are picky, bring your best stuff.
Supplies to Prepare your Items for the Consignment Store
I ended up spending $26 on things I did not have for the sale that I needed to get my items together correctly. Here are a few things you may need:
- Ziploc baggies, saran wrap (both to hold toys or small items)
- Batteries (dollar store ones will work good for the sale)
- Postal Tape (to attach tags)
- Safety Pins (to attach tags to clothing and clothing to hangers. I bought them at Walgreens and ended up paying almost twice the price of Amazon)
- Fabric Refresher Spray (I used this to freshen the clothes and it was not a bad idea).
- Cardstock (for the tags)
I created my tags and kept a list of how many bags, tape, safety pins, hangers, and baggies I would need then purchased after I was done writing the tags. That way I did not end up with a bunch of extra items I didn't need.
Pricing for Just Between Friends Consignment Store
Pricing was a little tricky. There are suggestion sheets on their website to help you. All hanging items have to be at least $3 (so that is what I made most of mine). For toys and games, I looked up the price on Amazon (new) and then divided it by 4. That seemed to work well. At the end I double checked with the suggestion sheet and adjusted a few prices accordingly.
Dropping your Items off at Just Between Friends Consignment Store
Dropping off was easy, but it did take about an hour and a half. It didn't help that we had a woman in front of us who brought a UHaul full of stuff. Not the “in town” kind of UHaul, the big one… I think she had been collecting things for the sale all year. I have had to wait in line at a consignment store before too though, so it really was not that bad.
You need to have clothing checked. Toys, books, and mommy corner (new stuff you do not want) stuff are given a once over when you bring it to the people stocking the item. Clothing is checked before it is even let through the door.
5 of my 232 items were not accepted. I don't consider that a bad rate. Three of the baby clothes had a stain on the collar that I did not see with the lights at my home, but were definitely there under the convention hall lights. The checker said that two of the junior shirts had a small hole in them. Honestly, I went through those shirts again when I got home and I could not find anything. They did both have tinsel weaved through them so it may have been a trick of the light catching a “sparkle” strand just right. I accidentally left a pair of children's shorts in my car (fell out of the box) so I ended up with 226 items in the sale.
The Just Between Friends Consignment Store Sale
The first night there is a presale (for consignors, first time moms, military moms, volunteers, and maybe a few other groups depending on your local area).
- I sold 34 of my 226 items at the presale ($109)
The next day is the first public day of the sale and there is generally a charge to get in. Just Between Friends does send out a mailer with a free admission coupon so not everybody pays to get through the door.
- I sold 55 of my remaining 192 items on the first day ($110)
The second day is free for everybody to get in and there is a half-price presale that night for consignors.
- I sold 44 of my remaining 137 items on the second day and the half-price presale that night ($76.50)
The final day is a half-price day. You can opt out of it (I did not).
- I sold 18 of my remaining 93 items on the final half-price day ($36.75)
How did I do: Just Between Friends Consignment Store
You know me, I like numbers. So, I kept track of what I would have charged at a garage sale and then figured I would have sold a quarter to a third of it at the garage sale then another quarter to third of what was remaining when I went “half-price” at the end of the sale. That is roughly what I have made in past garage sales (although I must say the last two I participated in in Tucson had much worse rates). Using those numbers:
- I estimate I would have made $72-$93 selling these items at a garage sale.
I brought 226 items to the Just Between Friends Consignment Store and I sold all but 75 of them for a total of $332.25. I had to spend $26 on supplies and you pay a commission to the owners (35% + $10), which came to $122.78. Using those numbers:
- I profited $183.47 at the Just Between Friends Consignment Store.
So, I made more than double at the Just Between Friends Consignment Store compared to a garage sale. I also did not have to spend a day (or two) sitting in my garage.
Final Thoughts: Just Between Friends Consignment Store
My rate of percentage sold would have been MUCH higher if I would not have brought junior clothes. Only one item sold out of 26 in that section. Don't bother bringing junior (or boys larger than about 12). That section was a disorganized mess. The sizes were off (all by pant sizes so shirts, skirts, and dresses were just mixed in). And, they just didn't have the same amount of people looking in that area. The target group was mom's of babies and young children.
That said, this is a local franchise so your area might be better at putting together their older child section. You can always shop the Just Between Friends consignment store first (it is put on every six months) and check out the older child section to see if it is disorganized and if there are people shopping there before you drop off junior and older boy clothing.
The other section that had a lower percentage of sold items was the bitty baby stuff (12 months and under, possibly even 2T for girls). They had so much in those sizes that competition was tough. If you bring items in those sizes be prepared to lower your price a bit. That said, I still sold over half of my items 2T and smaller (although I sold all but one item in the 3T and 5T sizes).