Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Selling the Clothes from Your Back to Make Ends Meet

Sometimes, it takes additional income to bridge the gaps in the family budget. Surprisingly, consignment stores represent a viable source of revenue for many families.

Children’s clothes, castoff suits, furniture and other items represent a potential source of funds, according to local and national experts in the consignment industry. With a prudent eye and a little time, your closets, garage and deep storage areas could yield valuable merchandise for resale at consignment stores.

Cash from Castoffs

“It’s almost like a second source of income,” said Lynn Rachel Garber, owner of Rachel’s Rare Finds in Cooper City.

To stock her store with a wide variety of merchandise that ranges from $10 garments to a $6,000 sable coat, Garber shops at estate sales. But most of the garments on display — about 90 percent — are consignment items placed in the store by families looking to earn extra dollars from designer suits (for men and women), diamonds, shirts and every-day garments.

Splitting the Profits

In most cases, Garber evenly splits the proceeds of the sale with the seller. However, for more expensive items, she offers sellers a higher cut on a case-by-case basis. Nationwide, consignment stores typically pays the consignee 40 percent to 60 percent of the selling price. Other stores—called “resale shop”—will buy furniture and clothing directly from owners and then place those items for sale.

“It certainly is a wonderful way for people to turn their clutter into cash,” said Adele Meyer, executive director of the National Association of Resale & Thrifts Shops (NARTS), an industry trade group that educates and assists consumers and retailers involved in the resale industry. “Resale is the ultimate in recycling.”

It’s a high-growth market for vendors and consumers. Nationally, there are over 20,000 second-hand shops—consignment, resale and thrift stores—in the nation and the number of outlets expands about 5 percent a year and the resale industry has become a multi-billion annual business, according to data from NARTS. Through consignment sales, mom-and-pop consumers can directly participate in that trend and clean house.

Hot Sellers

Furniture sales represent one of highest-growth segments of that market. That trend is driven by college students, young families and empty nesters(as buyers and sellers of second-hand furniture.) Other popular segments of the resale market include clothing for teens and men.

If you’re looking to cash into this market, here are a few NARTS suggestions for reselling merchandise through consignment and resale stores:

Selling Tips

1) Carefully evaluate consignment/resale stores. Ask about stores policies, commissions, payment schedules and customer base.

2) Become familiar with seasonal trends in merchandise.

3) Make your look appealing. Clothing should look and smell clean. Furniture should be polished and dusted. Make small repairs to enhance the value of the item.

4) Stay in contact with the shop and keep a list of items that have been placed for consignment.

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