Cleaning out my closet gives me a great sense of satisfaction: my life is made simpler by fewer items of clothing, a greater percentage of my belongings please me (“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris), I get the added bonus of donating items to shelters or thrift stores, and occasionally I have items so gently used (very occasionally–I am not a gentle caretaker of garments) that I consign them and make a few dollars.
Consigning clothes and jewelry is a win-win situation. You make space in your drawers and fill up some in your wallet. Unfortunately, the five-minute process of the store owner looking through my clothes and determining what they will and will not take is so daunting and terrifying that I often forego the whole thing. Have you ever cleaned a rack of clothes only to hear the words, “I’m sorry, but we will not be taking any of your items today”? Rejection. It feels so personal when they point their polished fingers at your sweater and utter “piling” with a frown.
Fear not. First of all, their job as the one who sorts through potential store items is to be the most critical judge of your clothes. Some consignment stores are snooty about it and others are not (attention everyone in the Birmingham area: the non-snooty store in the area is d’Trespa and their selections are awesome and eclectic — they even have a vintage section). So how do you consign?
1. Choose Your Items
The best way to avoid consignment rejection is to choose and prepare your items well. Most consignment stores will have a website that details what they are looking for in their clothing and accessories. In general you should choose items that are up-to-date or fashionably vintage and in good condition (no piling in sweaters, no stains, no tears, no odors). It can be helpful to visit the consignment store before attempting to consign and see what they sell. Some stores have a cohesive style (which means they may be pickier when choosing what to sell for you) and others offer greater diversity.
2. Wash Your Clothes
Wash each item you would like to sell. If there are any stains, soak item in hot water (if the material allows it) and a cup of white vinegar for an hour, rub the stained area, and then wash normally (maybe with a scoop of oxyclean). If the stain is still present after this, consider donating this item instead. If you are dealing with ancient deodorant marks, there is a solution! Last week I was able to remove five years of deodorant from the armpits of a well-loved dress (and successfully consign it!). First, take a pair of pantyhose and rub rub rub. This will actually take care of the majority of the waxy texture. Next, do the hot water and vinegar soak. After 30 minutes, rub at the stains and then soak for 30 more minutes. Proceed to wash normally. This worked on 4 out of 5 items. That 5th item just needed a second time around.
Once all of your clothes are clean and dry, rub a lint roller over each item. When that’s done, iron. This seems like a lot of work, but you are selling a good and most likely will be making money. Consider yourself a vendor. Ironing is one of those necessary evils in this case. Last, hang each item on a hanger. It’s all about presentation. Fasten the buttons, straighten the shirt, and hook the belt. Make it look good.
4. Consign and Consign Again
Look up consignment shops in the area. More than likely there are many. Make a list of the shops in order of which ones you consider your best bet. Some may be in search of higher-end items, which for me, would put them low on my list (since my items are not pricey brand new). Check their consignment policies. Most stores will have a 40/60 cut of the sale (you get 40% and the store gets 60%), but at d’Trespa (my favorite consignment shop here), it’s a 50/50 split, another reason this shop is high on my list. Find a time window that all or most of the shops take consignment items. If you must, make an appointment, but I prefer not to so that I can move from store to store with ease. Begin at the first store on your list. If they take nothing or just a few items, no worries, move along to the second shop. You’ll be amazed how what one store rejects, another loves. Continue until you feel satisfied that you have consigned all that is consignable (perhaps there is an item or two that are rejected from 3 consecutive shops–it may just be donation material).
Stay tuned for Spring Cleaning Part 2: A Simple Jewelry Upgrade
Any tips on consignment selling or shopping? What did I leave out?