13 Things Your Consignment or Thrift Shop Won’t Tell You

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1. This usually isn't the place to make a fast buck. Some shops issue checks quarterly -- and pay you only if your item sells.

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2. Some of my merchandise is brand new: When a boutique goes out of business, I'll pick up the inventory and flip it to you.

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3. The recession means times are changing, and so is our inventory. Women's suits and formal wear aren't selling the way they used to, but smaller furniture for smaller houses is in demand.

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4. We're not testing toys for lead. Retailers have to, but re-sellers are exempt. (It's still not legal for us to sell this stuff.)

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5. Stick to stores in the nicer neighborhoods, where people have more disposable income, and more disposable high-end merchandise.

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6. Please don't leave "donations" on our doorstep. That three-piece sectional couch that's been sitting in the rain all weekend? Now I have to pay somebody to haul it to the dump.

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7. A Wedgwood urn with a little chip? I can probably work with that. I need complete sets of buttons. I need working zippers.

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8. If I say, "That's adorable, but I don't have a market for it," take the hint. I've probably been doing this a long time, and I know what will move. It's not personal, it's business. If you get belligerent with me, I will not want to build a working relationship with you.

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9. And do you really want to buy someone's used potty chair? I can't believe I even have to mention this -- but some of my competitors do sell this stuff, so someone must be buying it.

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10. Consignment shopping is probably the only consumption that's environmentally friendly: When you buy an item you're keeping it out of the landfills, where an estimated 85 percent of used clothing winds up every year.

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11. Sometimes it's a fine line between "vintage" and "hideous." Jodi Miller of Designer Renaissance asks herself, "First, is it icky? Some materials of old just seem flammable and you can't see anybody ever wearing it."

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12. Ask about my markdown policy. Designer Renaissance in Nashville puts merchandise on sale every Thursday: If an item hasn't moved at full price after five weeks, it's marked down 25 percent, the next week it's reduced 50 percent, and the week after that 75 percent.

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13. Sometimes it is personal: We get to know you through what you buy and what you discard due to boredom, bad karma, or your metabolic ups and downs. "I'm growing old with some of my customers," says Miller of Designer Renaissance. "When they're dating they get all these hottie clothes, then they get married and you don't see them for a while, then in their later 30s their sizes start changing every year, so I get them again. We discuss medical problems, emotional problems, who the good divorce lawyers are. This job's a blast." Plus: 13 Things Your Consignment or Thrift Shop Won’t Tell You

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23 thoughts on “13 Things Your Consignment or Thrift Shop Won’t Tell You

  1. The article really does not say very much.
    Kind of a waste of time.

    George Vreeland Hill

  2. Reader’s Digest has degraded to be just plain stupid.  This will be the first time in 20 years I won’t renew!  They publish dumb articles like this every month; they are simply annoying!  I used to LOVE this magazine!  Too bad…

  3. Did they mena Flammable as in fire resistant or Inflammable as in will catch fire? 

  4. How about 13 things I WILL tell you about Readers Digest?
    1. I’m completely sick of “__ things your ___ won’t tell you” stories.
    2. I’m completely sick of the obscene number of drug ads in Readers Digest.
    3-13: I am sick of typing, because you probably won’t read it anyway.

  5. Second  hand  is  not  a bad thing,  there  are lots of great  bargains out there.  Just  like shopping in a store,  you have to check for quality, size, value.  In  furniture, tears,  smell ( pet urine, or odors from  tobbacco, etc., stains- food, etc.).  Clothes-basically the same as furniture.  Kitchen , electrical –  always  test them to make sure they work,  and  are  Clean,  vaccumes  change the bag  before taking in the house due to bugs.  Always wash everything  immediatelly to kill any hitch hikers (little  bugs or eggs from fleas ).  There are lots of  wondrful  little  buys  from  fine  jewelry, fine china, kitchen stuff, clothes, furniture, linnens, what nots, pet stuff, kids things, beach stuff, picnic items, tools,computers,   you name it.  And  if  you look  alot  are in great condition, and were’nt  cheap,  but the keep up with the Jone’s  crowd just  can’t  wait for the next great  sale.  And  garage sale or donation to goodwill  gets  the prize.  So  why not  go browse and  pick up some  neat  stuff  cheap!  Do  you  see anything wrong with that?  We  enjoyed  alot  of  vacations  with  the extra money  saved  from   my  bargain  hunting in  my spare time.  Every time  I saved  the  savings  account  got  some extra  money  for  future  fun happenings.

  6. The comment about the used potty chair is ridiculous.  Don’t you ever use a public toilet?  Do ou allow your children to use a public toilet.  A used potty chair is easily cleaned and there i not reason not to recycle these.  
    Same for mattresses.  I have 3 clean queen size mattress sets in my home that I got from freecycle.  All were from clean homes, no stains, no bugs and in excellant condition. When was the last time you stayed in a hotel, a friend or relatives home that you slept on a brand new mattress? 
    A little common sense when bringing a used item into your home goes a long way.  

  7. The comment about the used potty chair is ridiculous.  Don’t you ever use a public toilet?  Do ou allow your children to use a public toilet.  A used potty chair is easily cleaned and there i not reason not to recycle these.  
    Same for mattresses.  I have 3 clean queen size mattress sets in my home that I got from freecycle.  All were from clean homes, no stains, no bugs and in excellant condition. When was the last time you stayed in a hotel, a friend or relatives home that you slept on a brand new mattress? 
    A little common sense when bringing a used item into your home goes a long way.  

  8. The comment about the used potty chair is ridiculous.  Don’t you ever use a public toilet?  Do ou allow your children to use a public toilet.  A used potty chair is easily cleaned and there i not reason not to recycle these.  
    Same for mattresses.  I have 3 clean queen size mattress sets in my home that I got from freecycle.  All were from clean homes, no stains, no bugs and in excellant condition. When was the last time you stayed in a hotel, a friend or relatives home that you slept on a brand new mattress? 
    A little common sense when bringing a used item into your home goes a long way.  

  9. When you buy a “used” home, you buy someone else’s potties…

    That’s what bleach is for.

  10. “‘5. Stick to stores in the nicer neighborhoods, where people have more disposable income, and more disposable high-end merchandise.”
    If I ever had any doubts as to the douchiness of Reader’s Digest…

  11. this article is so useless and stupid it had to have been written by a woman

  12. I’ve bought clothing, books and furniture through consignment stores. I’ve also sold it. Right now I have seven pieces of furniture at a consignment store and bought two new (to me!) pieces.  It’s a great way to get bargains on the buying side and get a new look.  Even though I won’t get nearly as much money as if I sold it on CraigsList – I also don’t have to go through the aggravation of having people come to my house, haggling, etc..  

  13. The Salvation Army actually sells all of their unsold clothing to companies who buy them for overseas and they do sometimes sell them to companies that gfrind them up into material used for insulation or rags.  Also most of the clothing you donate to the large containers sitting near shopping centers, stores, etc….take the clothing and sell the items to be used for the same thing….they make a huge profit…read the label on the back of these containers the Good Will only gets about 20 percent of the items and money made .

  14. Why not put the potty chair in with recyclables?   Would you really want to put your precious little one on a plastic seat that might have e-coli bacteria or harsh cleaning chemicals touching their delicate skin?   Yes, throw the thing away. 

  15. #9 is ridiculous. Yea sure, let’s throw that plastic potty chair into the landfill and buy another one, because hot water, Pine-sol, and scrub brushes are sooooo difficult to use. Give me a freaking break!

    1. Exactly!  Like the potty chair ceases to work just because someone else urinated in it.  Odd how people will throw away a perfectly good potty chair, then turn right around and plop their fat arse onto a public toilet at the shopping mall, hotel, or friend’s house.  That’s just dumb.

  16. That fur thing is hideous. Fur is disgusting except for on living animals.

      1.  Enough with the fur already.  Nothing gives us the right to hunt down and kill an animal, just to steal it’s fur to make into coats and accessories.  Have you ever seen the process used to get that fur?  Many animals are skinned while still alive.  What happens after that is even worse. And poor little minks really have it bad. They usually put an electrified prod into their anus and then shock them to death.  How do you think that feels?  It’s pitiful that so many people lack compassion for animals.  I wish that all people who want or own fur coats or wraps would have to spend one week in these animal killing facilities, and have no choice but to watch everything that happens in there.  Afterward they might not be so quick to go buy a fur.

      2.  Fur coats are tacky, they always make a woman look like a cheap hooker.

  17. i’ve worked as volunteer in Hospice thrift shop for years. v. high end.  all $ goes to hospice.  i’d like to add:  gently inform buyers that over the years sizes have changed.  what is now a size 4 used to be a 6 or 8 or even 10.  also, smell books, espec. paperbacks for signs of mold.  don’t let customers bargain for lower price except when they note defect you, the owner of shop, have not noticed when you priced it  

  18. These  “13 things ___________ won’t tell you” articles are dumb, dumb, dumb, since most of them contain things that certainly WOULD be openly discussed, divulged, etc.  And for this one, regarding tip #5; often not true.  In cities with large thrift chains, the donated items go to a central location for processing then they are re-distributed throughout the city.  This is why I have found Chanel dresses in the poorest part of town at Goodwill.  Again, dumb. 

    1.  This is true with stores like the Goodwill, etc.  It’s smart to use stores with a specialty.  Here in Las Vegas we have a store, Colleen’s Consignments, that just deals in furniture.  They sell only stuff in really good condition, so it’s not about finding a broken down sofa for $25.  Which means they’ll get me a better price for the items I’m selling and they have great-looking stuff to buy. 

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