Consignment in Vietnam delivers one big surprise

August 18, 2016

Consignment in Vietnam looks very familiar

On our trip to Hong Kong in the early 90’s, my husband and I had to visit the local McDonalds. I wanted to see if there was any difference. As we stepped up to place our order, we noticed the workers behind the counter had all taken American names. Our server’s “name” was Telephone. It was delightful to see how our culture was impacting theirs. The US has obviously had an influence in Vietnam as well. Resale shops have names like Mayhem and So Vintage. Just like here, the Facebook page for Mayhem encourages shoppers to “re-use, reduce and recycle for a greener Earth.”  Posts for So Vintage show adorable models in outfits reminiscent of the 70’s. There’s one surprising difference though.

Warehouses abound

With over 97 million residents, Vietnam has over a third of its population living in urban areas. Resourceful people abound in this country. Literally, there are thousands of scavenger families who live by hand-sorting and recycling glass, plastic, cardboard and other items they find in local landfills. Resale shops fit right in. Consignment shops in Vietnam are called “warehouses” which distinguishes them from the more traditional and very crowded flea markets. Usually, a flea market is open at certain times of the day or on certain days of the week. Conversely, the hours of some shops were as long as 9 am to 8:30 pm Monday through Sunday.

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Pricing merchandise

Several of the shops allow consignors to price their merchandise for themselves or at least suggest a price. If the item sells within 5 days, the consignor receives 70% of the asking price. The longer it takes to sell, the greater the percentage the shop receives. Since we all have a tendency to put a higher value on our personal items, this pricing model could prove to be quite lucrative. In typical resale fashion, consignors are paid anywhere from 40 to 70 days after the item is sold. Some shops charge a service fee. Others offer concierge service where they’ll pick up items in homes. Many shops use charity events to eliminate left over merchandise. They live by the same old adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

Consignment in Vietnam is growing quickly

Low rental fees, access to Wi-Fi and a multitude of shoppers makes Ho Chi Minh City one of the fastest growing areas for consignment. The shops intermingle with art stores, hairdressers, massage parlors and coffee shops. At VinaSave, everything from secondhand sofas to “cheap church cabinets” is  offered. They’re even doing some upcycling by buying furniture that’s no longer usable and re-purposing it. The CEO of the company, Pham Van Minh, said their biggest challenge was determining an item’s value. Like resale shops in America, they use their personal expertise to determine the price.

The one big surprise

Every article I read stressed how inexpensive shop rental fees are right now. Prices for merchandise or rental fees were listed by the VND vs. the US dollar. The Vietnamese Dong (VND) has a current exchange rate of 1 VND = 0.000043 US dollar. In other words, it would take 250 VND to equal a penny. When items are sold for VND 10,000 or VND 150,000, it’s actually about $o.4 or $6.60. It was a big surprise when Shop of Hope, a resale charity shop, listed a lovely changing table from the UK for 4,000,000 (VND). I wasn’t prepared for all those zeros! The price is actually $172.

If you try consignment in Vietnam, make sure you’re prepared to be a million VND baby! Read Consignment Around the World to find out more.

Deb McGonagle

I have been a writer for various forms of marketing for over 40 years. I've written my share of radio and TV scripts, magazine and newspaper ads as well as direct mail brochures and newsletters. Currently, as the Marketing Coordinator for Traxia, home of SimpleConsign software, I've moved into blog posts, eBooks and website text. It's been an ever changing and ever challenging journey but I've loved it all along the way.