My extended family is taking a much-needed vacation this month. Literally, we’re counting the weeks and days. Family texts scream, “I need a break!” How about you? Consignment store owners need to stop, regroup and get a new perspective now and then. If words like refresh, renew and restore sound heavenly, then August is your month. Now’s the time to take the time (before the 4th quarter crazies) to do something nice for yourself.
Yes, there is a Society of Happy People. Founded in 1998, it’s designed to celebrate happiness. Beginning with Admit You’re Happy Day on August 8, 1999, the celebration expanded to the entire month of August. In addition to joining a Happy Group, you can receive weekly happier@work emails to encourage your team too. It’s all about choosing to be happy and letting others know it. 2019 marks the 20th anniversary of Happiness Happens Month!
The day to day duties of consignment store owners are tedious and exhausting. Dealing with consignors, customers and employees can wear you out. For whatever reason, people today feel entitled to say and do anything. You need to give yourself a break. Whether you take August 8th off or choose to do something else, here are some ways you can take care of you.
Happiness is a choice. It’s your choice. As a consignment store owner, you can choose to wallow in the frustrations of owning a small business or you can delight in the opportunity. Our happiness should not be dictated by our circumstances. Happiness is a state of mind. Don’t let life or exhaustion or people rob you of your happiness. Take the time. Make the effort. Find joy. More than anything, smile while you still have teeth!
Last Friday, most of Team Traxia headed to Harrisburg, MO. This little town is where you’ll find Coyote Hill Children’s Home. For almost 3 decades, Coyote Hill Christian Children’s Home has given abused and neglected children “A Safe Place To Be A Child.” Through licensed counselors and full-time Home Parents, the children of Coyote Hill are ensured a safe and healthy place to grow, learn, laugh and love. Team Traxia was honored to be a part of the Hill’s Easter celebration.
With over 1,000 eggs to hide, we had our work cut out for us. We divided into teams to hide eggs for the different age groups. Children as young as 4 up to 16 year-old teens were egg hunting.
We hid them in fields, on top of a dirt mound and in an enormous brush pile. Coyote Hill will be finding Easter eggs for months to come!
The day was chilly and very breezy. Easter eggs blew out of trees and off of logs. No telling where they wound up. It took our Team over an hour to hide them all.
Once everyone gathered, the hunt began. Kids ran everywhere! It was so fun to hear them yell, “I found an egg!” Bags bulging with Easter eggs, the children ran back to show their Home Parents.
Team Traxia treated everyone to hot dogs and hamburgers after the hunt. Our Founder, Joe, was the master griller. It was wonderful to be a blessing to such an amazing ministry.
If you’d like to know more about Coyote Hill Christian Children’s Home, we invite you to take a closer look.
My husband and I traveled to Hong Kong in 1990 and were amazed at the number of people, apartment buildings and shops residing there. With a population of almost 7.5 million in an area of only 405 sq miles, real estate in Hong Kong is a premium. It is extremely difficult to open a full-scale consignment or resale shop in the popular shopping districts. So, consignment in Hong Kong has come up with a very creative solution…the “Cube” shop.
According to 12hk.com, at Cube Shops “anyone can get store space and open for business to sell on consignment.” Like our booth space in an antique mall (although on a much smaller scale), consignment cubes rent on a monthly basis. Vendors choose small plastic “depots” about one cubic foot in size. There can be as many as 100 cubes in a shop. The vendor/consignor displays their merchandise with price tags and the shopkeeper manages the sale.
According to a Wikipedia article on Cube Shops, the rent varies depending on the placement of your consignment “cube.” Like our grocery stores, the premium shelf space is at eye level. The boxes placed at the middle of the column are therefore the most expensive. It appears some cube renters also use their consignment cubes to promote samples of more items they offer online.
As with consignment shops in the USA, consignment in Hong Kong offers Consignor Access. It’s a “comprehensive online system for renters to check the quantity of products sold and profits every day.” Like here, consignors choose the cube location and the merchandise offered based on the demographics of the shoppers in that area. Cubes are particularly appealing to the younger generation who just want to make a few extra HKD (Hong Kong Dollars).
Still, there are some phenomenal full-scale consignment shops in Hong Kong. Closeteur lists a number of vintage and consignment shops in the area. Luxury consignment shops like Milan Station offer beautiful Chanel bags. The Green Ladies also has a kid’s shop called Green Little. With a mere 121,000 likes on their Facebook page, Midwest Vintage appears to be a popular one. It was opened back in 1993 and is touted as the “oldest secondhand fashion store in Hong Kong.” They specialize in vintage American clothing (currently promoting fanny packs in a variety of colors), especially Levi’s and 80’s T-shirts.
Hong Kong is a shopper’s dream. Whether you shop from a store, a “cube” or the vendor on the street, your senses are bombarded with colors, noise and opportunities. If you go, make sure consignment is on your list. Read more about consignment shops around the world.
At a time when my main job (and hardest job) was a stay-at-home Mom, I scoured the internet for ways to make a little extra money. I filled out countless surveys, only to learn at the end they were no longer looking for anyone in my “age bracket.” I entered a ton of contests, writing endless testimonials. Later on, I studied up on my coupon skills hoping to become TLC’s next Extreme Couponing guru. Ultimately, my biggest success was as a Secret Shopper.
A Secret Shopper is someone sent “undercover” to pose as a potential customer. As an undercover shopper, one has to painstakingly provide detailed notes. In fact, I would run to my car afterwards and start writing down as much as I could for fear I’d forget. The questions ranged from the time it took to greet me to the friendliness of the sales rep. I described their appearance, their tone of voice and even our eye contact.
Bob Negen from Whizbang Retail Training wrote, “Using a secret shopper program is our favorite way to find out what kind of experience your customers are REALLY having…even when you’re not around.” He suggests hiring one to get information on the following:
Yes! Just knowing there could be a potential shopping spy wandering about is enough to keep your sales team on point. Likewise, make sure you have the “shopper” visit on a day you’re not in the store so you’ll get the best representation of your employees.
To tell the truth, I never felt completely comfortable. I am a lousy faker. I wear all of my emotions on my sleeve for all to see. One time I even took my kids along to look a bit more believable. The bottom line, if you want specific information about the effectiveness of your sales team, hire a Secret Shopper. It was a great study in sales techniques. As an undercover shopper, I learned so much about what to do and definitely what not to do. Because I was required to answer a lot of questions, I paid really close attention. After all, no details meant no paycheck. If I’m gonna lie (pretend), I at least wanna get paid for it!
I imagine you’re like me. You longingly peruse magazines promoting organization, minimalism and decluttering. The bottom line…we have too much crap! All of us. Whether it’s fashion purchases or keepsakes we need to let go of, we’re inundated with stuff. It’s time to head to the local consignment store and make some cash. When you sell through a consignment store, you’re placing your items in the hands of a merchant. That merchant in turn displays, promotes and sells your items for you. You receive a portion of the sale depending on your agreement with the store. It’s that simple. Need more proof?
Well yes, you have to gather up your items and take them to the store. After that, the consignment store handles 100% of the sale. Make sure you know the policies of the store you’re consigning through. Clothing must be free of stains and odors, and often hung on hangers. Generally, furniture consignment stores require photos in advance before accepting your items. Plus, the store may only accept certain brands or seasons. Know the rules before you go. Thankfully, the consignment store already has an established audience. No need for you to find buyers.
There is literally zero risk to you. If the store offers you money upfront to purchase and resell your items, they’re known as a Buy Outright or Resale store. A consignment store will look through your items and accept those they know their market wants. Try not to get your feelings hurt when that one-piece bathing suit that looks like an avocado doesn’t get accepted. Deep down, you knew you shouldn’t have bought it anyway. It’s time to donate it. However, you will get your money when your other items sell depending on your contract.
Have you ever tried to sell something online by yourself? You take pictures and post them on a local Facebook swap group. Buyers ask questions. Does it come with any accessories? Do you have the original box? Will you take less? The beauty of selling through a consignment store is you don’t have to negotiate with the buyer. There’s no responding to emails, phone calls or Facebook questions. No need to arrange to meet the buyers somewhere safe. Everything is taken care of for you.
Without experience, how do you know the best price to ask? A consignment store takes the guesswork out of pricing. I once advertised a mini chest freezer for sale. We had used it for a few years, but it was in pristine condition. Having spent very little for it, I charged $45. The page lit up. “I’ll take it!” “Can I pick it up now?” “Where are you located?” I quickly realized I hadn’t charged enough for it. Stores know what the market will bear and the best price to charge.
When selling through a consignment store, you don’t have to calculate taxes or shipping costs. Plus, there’s no packaging or trips to the post office. All you do is pick up a check or go out to your mailbox.
Want to share why consigning makes more sense with your own audience? Download our FREE infographic below and share it on your website or social media to inform your customers! Be sure to tag us on social media or link back to our website!
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<a href="http://www.simpleconsign.com/blog/consignment-store/"><img style="max-width: 100%; min-width: 300px; margin: 0 auto 20px auto; display: block;" src="http://www.simpleconsign.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Why-Consign-Infographic-Traxia-v2-1.png" alt="why consign infographic" border="0" /></a> <p style="max-width: 800px; min-width: 300px; margin: 0 auto; text-align: center;">Discover how you can make more money and save more time by selling through a consignment shop "<a href="http://www.simpleconsign.com/blog/consignment-store/">5 Reasons Selling Through a Consignment Store Makes More Sense</a>." Visit our infographic page for the high-res version and more details.</p>
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I had just finished my morning tea and was headed to our master bathroom to dress for work. My husband had showered, dressed and eaten all before I rose out of bed. My turn. As I slid open the pocket door to the bathroom, I noticed something brown on the floor. I approached and found it breathing. I frantically closed the door and called my husband, “Oh Lord, it’s a bat! Come home! There’s a bat in the bathroom!” You’re probably wondering what this has to do with learning how to write Consignor Contracts. I’ll show you.
A full week before discovering the bat, we’d had a glorious evening visit from 12 of my husband’s cousins. The weather was gorgeous and because there were so many of us, we turned the AC off and left the door to our deck wide open. So, that explains how the bat got in. The same is true for your consignment shop. If you leave the door wide open, agreeing to accept everything and anything, you never know what’s coming through. Make your consignor contracts detailed and clear. Here’s how.
No matter what type of merchandise you sell, all consignor contracts should include certain essential information. Big or small, your store needs to state specifics to minimize confusion. Plus, the more detail you provide, the less disagreements you’ll have. Add your store name, address, phone and email to the contract because consignors may have items at more than one store.
State clearly the period of time you will consign their items. Most stores offer a 90-day selling period. However, others may only agree to a 60-day consignment period. Clearly list your store splits. Whether you choose a 40/60, 50/50 or tiered split, let the consignor know what to expect. If you allow, let them know they’ll receive a higher percentage for using store credit.
Are you willing to let the consignor help you price their own items? Some stores do. Others state very clearly that they set the prices based on current trends, condition and brand. If you have a set discounting schedule, make that clear as well. Add a statement that says you reserve the right to reduce the selling price at any time. Include the right to add additional markdowns for special sales or promotions. If necessary, add a statement to your contract that tells the consignor they will receive their percentage based on the final selling price.
How consignors are paid is one place where consignment stores really differ. One store never mails checks and requires consignors to pick up funds no later than 90 days after the end of the contract. Other stores pay consignors only when they have a balance of a particular amount. This could range anywhere from $10 to over $100. Often stores that are willing to mail checks charge a nominal fee (perhaps $1) if the consignor chooses not to come to the store. One store requires the consignor to contact them first to receive payment. Make sure your consignor contracts clearly define what will happen to the money if the consignor doesn’t pick up their check. A statement such as “unclaimed monies will be forfeited 6 months after the consignment period ends” puts the responsibility clearly on the consignor’s shoulders.
Almost all clothing consignment stores require clothing be brought in on hangers. Those hangers are not returned so consider providing a consignor with a bundle of hangers for their next consignment. Most furniture consignment stores require thorough photographs before accepting any items. Again, this is an area that will help you avoid future arguments. State clearly, on your contract or online, the brands you do and don’t accept. Make it clear, merchandise that is no longer in style, not cleaned and pressed, has a foul odor or is stained and damaged will not be accepted. If you only accept items seasonally, publish those dates specifically.
Many consignor contracts state merchandise remaining after the consignment period automatically becomes the property of the consignment store. Some stores allow for a “grace period.” Others require the consignor to keep track of the selling period. They are also responsible for retrieving their items before the end of the contract. SimpleConsign offers an upgraded consignor access called Consignor Central. When a consignor logs into their account, it automatically notifies them of expiration dates.
If your store plans on adding a buyer’s fee, paid by the purchaser, make that known. This reduces confusion about the final percentage the consignor receives. If you offer online consignor access, charge a small monthly fee for consignors to view their accounts. SimpleConsign’s consignor access is offered in real time. State clearly any fees for pick-up, in-home evaluation or services required to repair or clean merchandise. Read 5 consignment fees to boost your bottom line.
I made the mistake of emailing my fellow Traxia team mates to tell them I couldn’t come to work because there was a bat in my bathroom. When my husband came home during lunch, he attempted to find the bat. But, no such luck. I was able to change my clothes, brush my teeth and put on a small amount of makeup while my husband stood guard. When I finally arrived at work, my office was covered in black plastic bats. Bats were on the ceiling, in my desk, on my printer…everywhere. Yes, they’re a lovely bunch of guys!
At the end of your consignor contracts, inform the consignor that you are not to be held responsible for missing or damaged merchandise for any reason. They must realize the risk is theirs if they choose to leave their items with you. Make sure you have a complete list of their consigned items and have them sign. Get everything wrapped up tightly.
When he returned home after work, my husband once again attempted to find the bat. Sure enough, it was curled up in a laundry basket under his painting clothes. He gently scooped it up with a T-shirt and carried it outside. Be careful when you leave your doors completely open. Whether it’s a little brown bat or consigned items, you never know what will come through your door.
My first experience with layaway came a few months before my 10-year high school reunion (think 80’s). I recently left my advertising agency job for work in ministry. My mother took pity on me and bought me a gorgeous dress, but I needed a comparable pair of shoes. I passed Neiman Marcus where a sign touting 50% off shoes nearly bit me. Drooling as I entered, my eyes spied the most gorgeous pair of navy and white leather Spectators I had ever seen. They were a perfect match for my dress and they had my size. The price on the bottom read $80. Knowing I couldn’t afford $80 shoes, I timidly asked if they were part of the 50% off promotion. The saleswoman smiled, “Why yes!” I pulled out my checkbook. She rang up an $80 sale. I reminded her of the 50% off I was to receive. She lowered her gaze and promptly said, “That is 50% off.” The shoes were originally $160, but I was already in love. Thus began my first layaway journey. (You’ll learn about the outcome at the end)
Layaway is a customer service benefit that can be a nightmare for the shop owner but a blessing for the customer. The concept began during the Great Depression. Shoppers bought items they otherwise could not have afforded. The benefit to the customer to use layaway vs. credit is the difference between a nominal service fee and the interest that accrues on their credit card. Since the recession of ’08, layaway has seen a resurgence. Today’s consumers are aware of the massive amount of debt they’re under and are looking for ways to save. If your shop is looking to gain pre-recession type sales numbers, offering layaway may just be the ticket, especially for the holidays. When properly managed, layaway can be the difference in a small sale vs. moving a large ticket item. Anytime a shop can make it easier for customers to purchase, the more chances they’ll have to move merchandise.
This is where the shop owner comes in. Layaway involves instructing your salespeople about clearly written policy guidelines. POS systems such as SimpleConsign make the process easier by automatically setting the number of days you allow for layaways; the required down payment based on the percentage you’ve predetermined and even show the recalculated total and payment history on a customer’s receipt. However, this doesn’t take into consideration the necessary storage space needed. Your backroom has to keep a customer’s item secure so it can be found quickly once their bill is settled. Since layaway items cannot be considered a completed sale until all the payments have been met, your sales numbers will have to be adjusted properly as well. Often, each layaway item must be listed as a separate transaction. RetailMeNot offers some great suggestions and lists this year’s layaway guidelines for several of the larger retailers.
Recently, Moneyish suggested Millennials in particular are showing more interest in layaway. Already cash strapped due to high student loans, this generation is avoiding credit cards. Layaway is the perfect answer to buy now, pay later. Some merchants are even offering FlexPay. By automatically pre-setting a regular number of payments and the total dollar amount of each payment, the purchaser is forced to budget accordingly. Remember, make it as easy as possible for your shoppers.
After 4 payments of $20 each, I eagerly picked up my new shoes. My high school reunion was a huge success. However, by the end of the evening not one attendee had commented on my gorgeous shoes. So after a few glasses of wine and a memorable time dancing to Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Boogie Wonderland,” I threw my feet up on the table and demanded that everyone ogle my extremely elegant $80 shoes. To this day, I have those shoes tucked away, lovingly wrapped in tissue and living in their original box as a reminder that layaway can save the day.
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A few years ago, my then teenage son and I had a rather difficult discussion. He responded to my unpopular parental decision by lightly kicking our already-on-its-last-leg oven door. It fell off. Thus began my adventure into kitchen remodeling. What started as a search for an out-of-date oven door, has now turned into a full-blown gut of my kitchen. Unfortunately, I am completely bogged down with decision making. I’m paralyzed. Too many choices! I’m struggling with one of the very reasons that make 2018 the year of resale.
It’s called the “paradox of choice.” The theory is too many choices mean people buy less. Why else would Target, Kohl’s, Neiman Marcus and others reduce the size of their stores? Like me, shoppers are weary of making so many decisions. In fact, one study actually determined the more choices you have, the more anxiety and dissatisfaction you have too. The beauty of resale is limited choices which makes the hunt for treasure even more exciting. I’m convinced the main reason people shop consignment, thrift or otherwise is the thrill of the hunt for that one special find. Consider this quote from KultureHub, “The point is that consignment shops offer the fashion scene more than just hyped clothing, they offer any avid admirer of fashion the opportunity to strike gold.”
In 2018, according to Forbes, Millennial buying power will be the biggest of any generation. This year alone, they’re estimated to spend nearly $200 billion. You remember those crazy Millennials? They love business sustainability, responsibility and accountability. This is the generation with overwhelming college debt, but they’ve grown accustomed to the finer things in life under their parents. Enter resale. The price point of your merchandise is what Millennials need. Don’t forget to provide shopping experiences too. If you visit The RealReal’s new store, “you can wait on gorgeous textural couches while your pieces are appraised. There is a flower stall at the front where you can buy stems by Fox Fodder Farm, a coffee bar downstairs and weekly events and workshops, like Faux Fridays, which instruct attendees on how to spot fake Louis Vuitton, Chanel and designer sneakers.”
With the increasing positive publicity of The RealReal, thredUp and more, resale is growing. We’ve heard about the troubles for Sears, Penney’s, Macy’s and others, but resale news is all about ingenuity and growth. Social proof can make or break you. If you are socially successful in the eyes of consumers, you will be successful in your bottom line. The stronger we are as a whole, the better we become individually. Good publicity is good for all of us. The flip side is a little scary. Take for instance the recent lawsuit against The RealReal. A shopper maintains The RealReal falsely inflated the diamond weight of a ring she purchased. Because The RealReal states they offer “authenticated luxury consignment,” shoppers naturally assume they are buying the “real” thing. If any one of these larger online consignment shops were to experience a major public scandal, our industry as a whole will take a huge hit.
I’ve finally forced myself to make a decision on countertops, appliances, backsplashes, paint colors, etc. My son is about to graduate from college and head into the Army. We no longer have difficult parental discussions (except when he needs more money). The future is looking bright. The future is rosy for resale too. Let’s work together to strengthen our industry!
Several celebrities love thrift and consignment shopping. You’d be surprised at who buys resale and why. Take my quick resale-loving celebrity quiz and find out which one you’re closest to. Post your results and let your friends know![interact-quiz id=”5543bd4419da0c9c392747c5″ w=”700″ h=”700″]
At this very moment, I am pouring my heart into helping my daughter create her dream wedding on December 3rd of this year. Not wanting a long engagement, she and her fiancé gave us exactly 12 weeks to plan. With the budget in one hand and my cell phone in another, I’m becoming a dynamo at searching for the best and making quick decisions. Whether it’s organza for draping the ceiling of the tent or finding the perfect 24-passenger van, I am a savvy shopper. Shopping has never been important to me, but I’ve begun to realize the incredible significance of not only a shop’s online presence but their in-store personality too. Come on this journey with me.
I can’t tell you how my heart flutters when a shop owner says, “We’ll throw that in for free” or “I’ll add that at no extra charge.” It’s music to my ears. Regardless of what it is, it usually seals the deal. One of the best ways to gain new customers and keep existing ones is to give them more than they expect. The holidays are the perfect time to offer a little something extra. It may be the difference between gaining the sale or seeing that potential customer walk out the door. Consider free gift wrapping or a free gift with every purchase. Try offering free delivery or pick-up for a specific amount of time. Whatever you offer, let your customers know you appreciate them.
Everyone is incredibly busy these days. Between email, cell phones and social media (not to mention face-to-face conversations), we’re always interacting with someone. It doesn’t seem like there’s time to even take time. Last weekend, we needed to meet with a rental company for a tent, chairs, tables, etc. (Yes, my daughter is having an outdoor wedding in December in the Midwest.) The company’s representative was extremely busy, but offered to fit us in early Saturday morning. She opened the showroom just for us. She never conveyed that she was doing us a favor or that she had a million other things to do. Her time was our time. I was so impressed by her willingness to help us in any way possible. Take the time because a savvy shopper recognizes when you go the extra mile. By setting up a small table and coloring pages for children, you’re telling a weary mom you want to make it easier on her. By offering a refreshing beverage, you’re telling someone that you care about them whether they make a purchase or not.
The wedding is being held at my brother and sister-in-law’s home. My sister-in-law is the queen of referrals. She knows people that know people. It’s amazing! No matter what we’re searching for, she’s able to find someone who can be referred to us. Not only do referrals shorten the time necessary to find what we need, but they immediately add a huge degree of trust. Don’t forget this very important aspect. Ask your customers to put referrals on your social media and local outlets such as Merchant Circle or Yelp. Monitor them regularly and respond when possible. Don’t be afraid of negative comments. Answer them in a respectful way offering to solve the problem as best you can. Consider adding a “bring-a-friend” promotion or a “refer-a-friend” discount.
We searched and searched to find just the right photographer. Several people we know own excellent photography businesses, but they weren’t “the one.” My daughter stumbled upon one photographer on Instagram. We loved her work! A quote from her website says, “I’m not just a fine art photographer – I’m a cultivator of memories.” When we got to her pricing page, our hearts skipped a beat and then sunk. Really, really pricey. However, the more we communicated with her and the more we looked at her work online, we came to believe she was worth every penny. A savvy shopper knows quality when they see it. Don’t sell yourself as just another “secondhand” store or a place to get a bargain. Build a brand that shows even though your prices are less than full retail, your merchandise is worth every penny you’re asking.
I know it sounds silly, but a flower shop should smell like a flower shop. When you walk in, you should be hit with that fragrant sweetness. When you walk into a consignment or resale shop, you should not be hit with a musty, damp smell. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve read reviews on Yelp! or Merchant Circle where the good or bad smell of a resale shop is mentioned. Many potential resale shoppers have pre-conceived ideas and it’s your job to dispel them. It’s no longer just about the transaction between you and your customers either. Nowadays, a savvy shopper is looking for the interaction too. Get your sales staff out from behind the counter. Train them on how to engage shoppers and have them read The 3 stupidest questions to ask shoppers. Use everything from humorous signage to letting your sales reps hand out instant coupons in order to make a connection. Like one florist did for us, take a shopper by the hand and walk them through every detail of a purchase, including accessories.
Believe it or not, no one cares how long you’ve been in the business. In discussing transportation to and from the hotel to my brother’s home, I had one limo company owner tell me at least 5 times he’d been in the business for over 34 years and therefore was more qualified than anyone else. Guess what? I don’t really care. Was he going to take care of me and my needs? That’s what your customers want to know. When your consignors argue with you about how you’ve priced their merchandise or a shopper says a price isn’t fair, don’t use the excuse that you’ve been in the consignment business for over 25 years. Prove to your customers that you know the merchandise in your shop backwards and forwards. Statistics show that less than 30% of shoppers feel sales people actually know anything about what they’re selling. Talk about what you know not how long you’ve known it and you’ll make far more sales.
We’ve got 6 weeks to go and my daughter still doesn’t have a dress!