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

Consignment shop owners share their secrets, tips and best etiquette advice.

By Reader's Digest Editors
  • Loading

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.)

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

    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.

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

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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."

    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.

    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

    POPULAR RIGHT NOW

    Your Comments

    • Anonymous

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

      George Vreeland Hill

    • NomoreRD

      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…

    • Apiesen

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

    • Steve

      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.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1013108241 Cynthia Knowles

      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.

    • Kathymc7719

      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.  

    • Kathymc7719

      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.  

    • Kathymc7719

      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.