Modern-day shipping for consignment stores is in high demand. Both consignment buyers and sellers can agree that nothing beats the thrill of finding the perfect vintage piece that really ties the room together. Whether it’s a mid-century modern couch or a Victorian-era marble statue, such items are hard to come by and may never be found again.
But consignment buyers and sellers also know that this excitement can quickly wear off when faced with the logistics of safely getting such a piece from Point A to Point B at an affordable price.
That’s why uShip has teamed up with SimpleConsign, the web-based management solution for consignment shops. To provide its sellers with fast, easy, and affordable delivery options for shipping large, oversized items.
Traditional shipping options have proved inefficient for consignment sellers, leaving them to deal with high fees and high damage rates. Parcel carriers, like USPS, simply aren’t equipped for these large jobs. They often result in exorbitant, unpredictable rates. On the other hand, freight carriers can carry large items via Less Than Truckload (LTL) shipping. However, they require sellers to spend extra time and money carefully packing and palletizing items.
ONE-STOP SHOP FOR OVERSIZED SHIPPING
With uShip, SimpleConsign users get way more than just bare-bones shipping options.
uShip’s solution for SimpleConsign sellers includes blanket wrapping, home delivery, and full tracking for both buyers and sellers. Consignment store owners can also rest easy thanks to instant shipping price estimates; affordable, full-coverage insurance; and first-to-final mile service, which can result in significantly lower damage rates.
On top of these features, SimpleConsign sellers get a key edge over competitors by having the ability to choose their own carriers. Every carrier on uShip has its own profile. This includes helpful information, like reviews and ratings from real customers, cancellation rates, and transport equipment. Before booking, SimpleConsign sellers can review each carrier who interacts with their listing and communicate about the shipment in advance. Giving them the power to choose the right shipping partner for their store.
MAKE MORE SALES WITH PREDICTIVE PRICING
Though today’s buyers have never been more confident purchasing large items online, 47 percent of Americans still say that high delivery costs at checkout caused them to look elsewhere for the same or similar item. For sellers of large antiques, offering free shipping might seem impossible, but with uShip’s shipping portal, sellers can utilize uShip’s predictive pricing so they can roll the cost to ship into each item, making free shipping a true reality.
Not sure which is the right shipping price strategy for your business? Take this quiz to find out.
WHAT ARE OTHER SELLERS SAYING?
Brad Stanwick operates an online store specializing in English antique furniture. His store, The Parsons Nose, now either offers free shipping on its items, with shipping rolled into prices, or displays a flat, up-front delivery rate right on the item’s listing.
“Using uShip has been better for my bottom line,” Brad says. “I ran the numbers and figured out that I can ship my furniture almost anywhere in the country for about $250 to $300 through uShip. So, I took a leap.”
A WIN-WIN SHIPPING SOLUTION
Better shipping options for SimpleConsign users don’t just benefit the seller. With this latest partnership, SimpleConsign customers can now get the perfect one-of-a-kind item shipped directly to their room of choice. In addition, both seller and customer can have the peace of mind provided by full tracking, feedback-rated carriers, and first-to-final mile delivery.
SimpleConsign Seller Exclusive: If you’re a SimpleConsign user, check out the uShip + SimpleConsign landing page to see how you can start shipping with modern-day shipping for consignment stores through uShip today.
When it’s time for your shop to change seasons, take a look at some of these inventory reduction ideas. Although you don’t want to make drastic sales a regular habit, a twice or 3 times a year clearance sale is very acceptable. I’ve put together a list of 17 brilliant ideas for consignment inventory reduction. Okay, I can say they’re brilliant because I put the list together. Pick one or two and clear out the old to bring in the new.
This is your best non-sale idea for consignment inventory reduction. Try totally redesigning the look of your shop. Move racks, rounders, shelving units or anything else that will make your shop look and feel completely different. It’s amazing how just moving merchandise from one end of the shop to the other can make it more attractive to a buyer.
Hand out a grocery bag, laundry bag or a specially printed store bag to every customer that comes that day. Sell your merchandise at one price for the entire bag or bring in a scale and sell it by the pound.
Did you know that January 13 is Make Your Dream Come True Day or that April 7th is No Housework Day? The internet is filled with websites that list crazy, fun “holidays” that can be celebrated with a special sale or a whole event. Take one of the really crazy ones like Hoodie Hoo Day (Feb. 20th) and any shopper who comes in and says, “Hoodie Hoo” receive a special discount.
Reduce the price of your merchandise weekly or even daily so that by the end, whatever you have left is down to the lowest possible price. I encourage you to discount deeply the first time around. If the idea is to move merchandise quickly, start the “auction” at 40 or 50% off.
Invite only your best customers to shop the night before the regular sales event begins. Provide beverages and snacks; teach a class on furniture painting or scarf tying and offer them a deeper discount on all sale merchandise for that evening only. It’s a great way to reward faithful shoppers and take care of consignment inventory reduction.
Collect a bevy of DIY ideas and offer them along with merchandise at a discount. For instance, offer DIY ideas/classes for turning a mirror into a tray; sweaters into mittens and leggings or jars into a decorative craft caddy. There are literally hundreds of ideas to use secondhand items for upcycling. Make a night of it and help your customers see the potential.
Each week from now through the end of the season, choose particular items that receive an extra discount. For instance, every sweater or lamp is an extra 25% off. This is especially good when you want to avoid the idea of a clearance sale. Getting a deal sounds much better than buying an item during an Inventory Reduction Sale.
Sometimes customers just can’t see the potential in putting separate items together. Showcase merchandise in a tableau creating an instantly warm and cozy feel. Whether it’s a chair, table, lamp and ottoman or a sweater, scarf, boots and hat…help your customers envision the whole not just the individual. Then offer a special deal when they purchase the entire group of items.
Use attractive boxes or baskets and put together fun surprise packages. Don’t completely fill them with all of your unwanted items though. Be sure to add vintage knick knacks, colorful scarves, fuzzy mittens or unusual serving pieces. Put together all red or pink items and make mystery Valentine’s Day baskets. With lots of paper shred for filler and a cellophane wrapper, customers can see a little of what they’re getting, but not all.
There’s no better way to double your inventory reduction than by offering a Buy One Get One Free or Buy One Get One 1/2 off Sale. It’s a great way to move particular merchandise fast. Use a BOGO sale to move slow-moving sizes, colors, overstocks and even totally unrelated items.
Some customers just like to dig (I’m one of them). They like nothing more than to dig into a huge basket, tub, bin or box for the remaining items that are deeply discounted. Often, shops will have a special area in the back for sale items, but for an inventory reduction sale, make sure it’s right out front.
In seasons such as winter and summer, the weather can often be extreme. Choose a measuring point (i.e. any day below freezing, snow over 6″, sunny Sundays or windy Wednesdays) and then offer a discount accordingly. For instance, discount any item in your shop by an additional 10% for every 5 degrees below freezing. On a 20° day, customers would receive an extra 20% off.
The end cap or space at the end of an aisle is some of the most valuable real estate in your shop. Let each of your employees take an end cap and merchandise it with items that need to move quickly. At the end of the week, see which employee’s end cap sold the most merchandise and offer the winner a prize.
Give your sales staff the ability to give special discounts to shoppers during a specific week. Print up coupons that say “You choose your sale price up to X amount.” Of course, the customer will choose the X price but that was the discount you were prepared to offer anyway. It provides an incentive for an immediate sale (make sure the coupon has a place for the end date) and it gives your employees a chance to build relationships with customers.
Advertise a 60% off for 60 minutes one day only. Clearly state the day, hour (i.e. 11 am to 12 noon) and the 60% savings in all of your marketing. Make sure you print posters for your windows too. Close the store for the morning of the sale so that a crowd potentially builds outside your store. On the hour, open the door and let the sales begin!
Create slips of paper with a variety of discounts on them. Let customers choose a slip of paper at the register which will determine the discount they’ll receive. Punch up the excitement by putting one slip in the fishbowl with the word FREE on it.
Donating excess inventory to a charitable organization can offer some stores certain tax benefits. If you’re not able to take advantage of the tax write-off, consider donating your items to an event that might also offer additional marketing opportunities in exchange for your merchandise. No matter what, the community goodwill that is generated from donations is always a plus.
Overall cleaning your store of outdated merchandise is a must, read 6 tips for consignment shop spring cleaning.
Need help managing your inventory? Let SimpleConsign show you how easy it can be.
You’re in the business of reselling used items. It makes good business sense to offer new merchandise too. In fact, there are several reasons to invest in new merchandise for your resale shop. Typically, items bought in bulk are literally pennies on the dollar. There are a variety of ways you can purchase affordable, unused merchandise. It can be a “buyer beware” proposition though. Many of the items being sold are “as is.” No matter how you purchase, review the entire contract. In addition, pay particular attention to their return policies. Here’s why resellers stock new merchandise.
Adding smaller items to your merchandise, creates a bigger impression for shoppers. Customers want to see a wide array of goods. Most importantly, your brand image improves by adding multiple pieces of the same product.
Resellers stock new merchandise to help create the “Target Effect.” In other words, your shoppers didn’t realize they needed an item until they noticed it next to the merchandise they’re looking for. A steady supply of new merchandise guarantees you’ll have fresh inventory on the sales floor. Add a line of chalk paint, jewelry, greeting cards or other items to your shop and you’ve automatically added built-in revenue.
Many of our furniture consignment customers have invested in lines of chalk paint, candles and furniture polishes. Our clothing consignment customers carry everything from scarves to sunglasses and lingerie. Children’s consignment shops often invest in a partnership with Melissa and Doug toys. Whatever is in demand in your location, find a reputable dealer and build your inventory.
Go from being known strictly as a “secondhand” shop to that “boutique around the corner.” Unfortunately, some shoppers never consider setting foot in a “used” merchandise store. However, they wander in because of that particular line of new items you now carry. Plus, many shoppers don’t want to buy used items as gifts. Often, bridesmaids or baby shower attendees feel they need to purchase a brand new gift rather than a brand new used gift.
Becoming a unique distribution point for a local artist or designer instantly adds to the exclusivity factor of your resale shop. However, make sure the tie-in follows your branding. In other words, don’t offer homemade jellies if you’re a clothing consignment shop. A furniture shop is perfect for that local pottery maker or painter and that young new designer from college can exhibit her new textiles at your clothing store. Plus, adding Vendor-Managed Inventory (VMI) reduces your overhead costs and frees up employees for other work.
Resellers stock new merchandise through overstocks, closeouts, liquidations, salvage and wholesale items. These companies advertise online and many of them have distribution centers all over the country. Some companies are very specific about the items they sell and others sell by random pallet only. Again, buyer beware.
When a retailer overestimates market demand, their discounted items are known as surplus. It doesn’t mean your customers won’t be interested in them. It means the market is flooded. Overstock outlets are a great place to find clearance-priced seasonal items.
A clearance or closeout sale consists of items a retailer no longer wants to stock. In other words, these items are almost never returnable. The point is to clear out inventory.
A salvage load includes customer returns, samples and floor display merchandise. If you have the time and expertise to repair a ripped seam, sew on a button or touch up paint, this can be a cost-effective option.
Held when a store goes out of business or declares bankruptcy, liquidation sales are an excellent place for new merchandise. In addition to products for your shop, you may be able to find supplies like tagging guns, bags, tissue paper, shelves, receipt paper and more. If a local business is closing, negotiate a package deal instead of paying per item.
The QVC Liquidation department offers customer returns, plus refurbished and closeout inventory sold by the pallet. If you purchase pallets, the company should be within easy driving distance. Believe it or not, even WalMart has a liquidation site.
In conclusion, do your homework. Thoroughly review your contract and completely understand all return policies. Check the Better Business Bureau. Buying new merchandise can ultimately bring a boost to your overall bottom line.
In your eagerness to build inventory, it’s tempting to accept every item that a consignor brings to your store. Be selective about the merchandise you accept. Don’t end up with a cluttered showroom and stagnant inventory. Both of these will drive away customers. It’s crucial to create a rock solid consignment intake policy. The merchandise you accept, determines your success.
Everything begins with your store’s branding. Who are you? You need a complete understanding of your local market, potential customer base and competition to determine the merchandise you offer. Remember, you are your store’s brand. Is it time to do a little re-branding? Read Get back on track by re-branding your consignment store. Determine the type of store you are. Then, you’ll know the items you need to accept. Bear in mind, your consignment intake policy doesn’t require legal mumbo jumbo to be considered a legal and binding contract. Make your policies and your consignor contract as easy as possible for all parties to understand and put everything in writing.
No two consignment shops are exactly alike which increases the thrill of the hunt for the shopper. That being said, there are no industry standards for a merchandise intake procedure. The process can be handled in a number of different ways.
a.) Limit Items Many consignment stores place a limit on the number of items they accept from each consignor. Between 15 and 30 items is a reasonable number. Read Come with me to the Twilight Zone of inventory management to learn the dangers of too much inventory.
b.) Drop & Run This consignment intake policy allows the consignor to leave their items giving the shop a longer time to review and price. Setting an item limit with this system is also helpful. Order a packet from Too Good To be Threw to promote this policy here.
c.) Designate a Time and Person Establishing a set appointment to meet with a particular salesperson is another way of streamlining your review of items. This method is excellent for high-end stores with extremely curated inventory.
d.) Concierge Service Again, this process requires an appointment. Review merchandise at the consignor’s home and accept only what appeals to your customers.
Regardless of your procedure, be clear about whether you require designer labels, trendy styles or seasonal merchandise. State if you’re looking for particular sizes or items for a specific gender or age group. Above all, explain to consignors that your customers drive your guidelines. Therefore, you must be particular about the items you accept.
If you have implemented a sliding scale program, let consignors know up front. One model may look like this: “The consignment period lasts 90 days, with a 25 percent markdown after 30 days and a 50 percent discount after 60 days.” This is also the place to note your pickup and donation policy of unsold items.
Clearly state your consignment terms. A 60/40 store split is the most common. However, there can be exceptions to the rule for more expensive or truly rare items. Read How to write Consignor Contracts aka don’t get bats in your bathroom for more information. Some consignment shops add an Item or Buyer’s Fee which they either do or don’t disclose to their consignors. With Memo Pricing, a set price is established ahead of the item reaching the sales floor. Easily add these fees in your POS system like SimpleConsign.
Clothes should be brought in on hangers. This allows you to quickly inspect the garments. Outline your expectations that items must be free of tears, stains, missing buttons and odors. Be sure to outline in your acceptance policy what you won’t accept too.
For furniture stores, give clear guidelines for when and where items can be received. State your terms clearly if you offer a pickup service. If you only accept items based on photos submitted first, make sure prospective consignors understand the rules.
Although it rarely happens, you must protect your business from selling stolen items. Along with extensive contact information, including home and cell phone numbers, mailing address and email address, you should also photocopy the consignor’s driver license or other form of ID. Finally, get a signature on everything. This will help to make your acceptance policy as airtight as possible.
Awhile ago, one of our employees visited a clothing consignment shop and chatted with the owner. While talking, she mentioned her shoppers often come in and ask to buy her display pieces. Frustrated, she felt they were clearly more interested in her furniture than her actual merchandise. Our employee’s response? “By all means, sell it to them!” As he pointed out, she was missing a vital niche in her community. How do you know if you’re meeting the needs of your customers and your community as a whole? It’s never too late to find out. Gain confidence that you are definitely selling the right merchandise by studying the following 3 factors.
In order to know if you’re selling the right merchandise, list all the consignment, thrift and resale stores in your community. What types of products are they selling? How successful are they? Include any retail stores in your area as well. Shop each store to check prices, layout, customers and store appearance. Count the number of spaces in their parking lot. Check their websites and social media too. Read reviews on Yelp, City Search, Yahoo! Local and others. Do a Google search and see what comes up when you enter their name and your own. Chat with your customers and ask them what other resale stores they shop at and why. Gather as much information about your competition as possible.
Obviously, you studied the market thoroughly before opening your store. However, the retail and resale scene changes rapidly. With the “retail apocalypse” (as it’s known in the industry), stores close, downsize and change direction constantly. Opportunities for selling the right merchandise could be missed. Look for areas being ignored by others. Since you’ve already closely reviewed your competition, determine what you can do better. Look at their strengths and your weaknesses. Can you build on their success? Do you have knowledge or expertise in an area that isn’t being covered? Consider changing something as easy as your hours, the location of your register, adding a delivery service or a personal-shopper service. Perhaps, you just need a good dose of clever marketing. Read Top 12 sales tips you need to gain loyal shoppers to get a better idea of the opportunities available.
Like the woman who owned the clothing store above, sometimes you’re completely missing the needs of your community. Just because no one else is offering consigned baby items, doesn’t mean they’ll sell in your retirement-community neighborhood. You have to understand the demographics of your area. Remember, you don’t want to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. If there isn’t a market for what you’re selling, you’re not selling the right merchandise. Dig through the latest census for your area. Review NeighborhoodSCOUT for more detailed information. Be sure there’s a large enough market for the products you want to sell. Unfortunately, you can’t be a “Jack-of-all-Trades” and do it well. Selling absolutely everything in your secondhand store creates a “junk shop” feel. Concentrate on a few important, well-researched areas and you’ll be a success!
Although no obstacle is insurmountable, there are common mistakes consignment shops make that may cause your business to fail. Here are 5 of them.
It is all about location, location, location. Knowing the demographics, like age and income of possible shoppers in your area, is key to choosing the right location. Statistics show that nearly 75% of your business will come from the residents in your store’s immediate neighborhood. Don’t choose your location based on price alone. Consider the parking and traffic patterns. Take a close look at other businesses nearby. Is there a well-known restaurant, store or gym around the corner? Look for businesses that will draw foot traffic. Read 5 steps to a successful consignment business to learn more about choosing the right location. If you find yourself in the wrong location, now is the time to make the change. Don’t wait. Go where your shoppers are.
You’ve chosen your location, but now you have to fill it with merchandise. Incorrectly managing your merchandise is one of the common mistakes consignment shops make. Too little merchandise and you look like you’re going out of business. Adding too many items to your sales floor will also hurt you. Shoppers don’t want to fight racks and hangers to view your merchandise. Poorly constructed or flawed items that make it onto the sales floor will damage your reputation. At least twice a month, review your inventory for expired products. Move items that aren’t selling to a sale area in the back. Start having a critical eye for what you will and won’t sell in your shop. Read How to manage your consignment inventory. Review your sales data and see who and what are your top sellers.
You know the struggle, if you price the merchandise too high, you risk losing sales. If it is too low, the business will struggle to make a profit. Generally, clothing is tagged 30 percent off the original retail value regardless if the item was worn or not. Follow basic pricing rules like ending with the number 9 (as in $9.99). Don’t make your discount schedule too difficult to understand. Shoppers tend to follow the path of least resistance when it comes to figuring out price, so make your prices as understandable as possible. Offer merchandise in a wide variety of price ranges. Then, there is something for everyone. If your merchandise is priced right, customers will have a sense of urgency to buy because they know it won’t last long. Read 4 tips for setting correct price points.
It’s critical that you develop concise, yet detailed written policies for consignors and employees. Not sticking to those policies is another one of the common mistakes that consignment shops make. Determine how long an item will be on the sales floor before a price reduction. Tell your consignors when they will get paid (typically at the end of the month) and how (cash, check, store credit). Let them know what will happen if their items don’t sell. Offer an intake sheet that outlines the contract and requires a signature. Have your consignors fill it out and list every item accepted into the inventory. Every employee and consignor must clearly understand how the intake system works. Read How to tweak your consignment acceptance policy. You’ll also want to develop brochures and a FAQs section on your website listing your policies. For your employees, make sure you have a clear employee manual. State your policies on vacation and sick days, social media use and such things as shoplifting, etc.
Decide immediately if your shop is a fun, enjoyable hobby or you intend to truly build a business. That decision will make a difference in how you plan. Just because you like to shop, know a good bargain when you see one and have a basement filled with stuff, doesn’t mean you’re equipped to open and run a consignment shop. It’s been suggested that a new business owner have at least 6 months of living expenses set aside ahead of time. Problems can arise, but having a safety net not only keeps you sane, it also relieves a lot of pressure. A solid business plan is essential no matter where you are in the process. Maybe it’s time to pull it out again and take another look. Read How to improve a mediocre resale business plan.
It all seems like common sense, doesn’t it? However, in the midst of making exciting decisions for a new business venture, we often lose sight of the practical aspects. It’s never too late to re-evaluate your choices though. Do a little homework and put yourself back on the right track.
For more on running a successful Consignment Store check these blogs out:
Updated on 4/12/2021
A successful consignment business begins with a solid business plan. It outlines your overall vision. The time you invest in creating this document saves you money and keeps you on track for the long haul. According to Entrepreneur.com, a consignment clothing store requires $3,000 – $10,000 to launch. Then, it takes at least two years to work out all the kinks. Carefully consider your business structure, consignment policies and your goals for the future. To learn more about financing, read Build a Strong Consignment Business – Step 1.
Remember, it truly is all about location. That’s why it’s so important to become very familiar with the neighborhood you’re considering. By visiting the local city hall and gathering as much information as you can regarding income, age, marital status, etc. You can make sure there’s a market for your type of store in the area. If you aren’t comfortable talking to a competitor, at least browse their store and marketing materials. Then, contact similar businesses in other cities or states. When your market has a lot of second-hand shops or a large, well-known shop will be in direct competition, think about ways to make your store unique. Find your niche, by reading Build a Strong Consignment Business – Step 2.
To become a successful consignment business, you need to attract consignors with quality merchandise. Don’t open the doors before the shelves are full. Shoppers will hesitate to come back. However, if you fill your shelves with inventory shoppers aren’t interested in, they won’t return either. By knowing your neighborhood and its demographics, you’ll know what merchandise to offer. Advertise for consignors in your local newspaper. Do website searches. Plus, scour yard sales, auctions, estate sales, business liquidations and thrift shops for good deals. Learn to bargain and negotiate. These skills will be needed when interacting with consignors. Read Tweaking Your Consignment Acceptance Policy and Inventory Management: Because You’re Running a Business, Not a Museum to learn more about your inventory.
Often times shoppers form lasting impressions of your consignment shop based on the layout of your store. No matter how well-stocked the store is, if it isn’t clean, bright, organized and attractive, customers will find another place to shop.Visit your favorite retailers and see how their merchandise is laid out. Place must-have seasonal items in the front of the store. Sale items and everyday products are in the back. Display smaller items that cost less than $10 next to the register. These impulse purchases can add up to significant sales each month. It’s also important to vary how you display your items. Changing up the same merchandise makes it feel new and different. For more merchandising tips, read 6 Tips to Improve Store Design.
Reach out to your community for support. Team up with other businesses in your neighborhood to offer cross-promotional services and discounts. Dry cleaners or tailors offer excellent cross-promotional opportunities for a clothing store. An aspiring jeweler could sell original accessories that complement a formal wear shop. Or, you could cross promote with a hair and nail salon. A children’s consignment store should partner with a local photographer for a customer appreciation sale. A furniture shop always benefits by having a solid relationship with a moving company. To learn more about partnering with other shops in your community, read Pros and Cons of Teaming Up with Other Resale Shops.
To become a truly successful consignment business, look for every available opportunity to build your vision. Join organizations such as the National Association of Resale Professionals (NARTS). Get involved with your local Chamber of Commerce. Find ways such as Shop Small Saturday to encourage your community to shop local. Do your homework and you will be successful.
Opening a new business? Be sure to read our Getting Started Success Kit. Sign up and start building a better business today.
Are you frustrated that your resale shop’s inventory isn’t moving as quickly as you’d like? Is your “Clearance” section larger than it should be? Does your backroom literally look like someone dumped a big pile of merchandise in the middle of the floor and ran? There’s one word, well actually two, that can change all of that.
One word can change the state of your resale shop’s inventory…planning. A lot of consignment and buy outright shops focus strictly on acquiring. Concerned about whether they have enough inventory, they accept everything. Your shop needs a definite monthly, seasonal or even annual plan. Successful inventory management requires planning. However, when you’re relying on others to create your inventory, how can you possibly plan?
Keep your target market always in the forefront of your inventory intake. Now’s the time to dig into all of that sales data you have available. What were your top sellers in 2017? Who were your top consignors? Use your sales data to determine the exact type and quality of items you’ll accept for the coming year.
Regularly communicate with your entire staff about your merchandise. Salespeople should keep detailed notes on the items shoppers ask for. Tally customer requests and review them with everyone. Communication between those on the sales floor and those handling intake is essential.
Plan merchandise intake according to your store’s geographical location and change in seasons. Clearly state when your store begins and ends accepting items for each season. Factor in the time it takes to physically replace one season’s inventory with another.
Chat regularly with customers to be sure you’re offering what they want. Pay attention to how many shoppers walk out empty handed. If a large number of potential customers leave without buying, it’s time to start asking questions. Find out what your best customers like about your store and merchandise.
In a recent NARTS Facebook discussion, some consignment shops were surprised by the amount of inventory that had been coming through the door. Many store owners remarked about intake growing so rapidly, they didn’t know what to do. Should they take it all? The advice given was, yes accept it all, if you…organize. The goal is to be a place where people can “empty their closets.” Choose how you organize your merchandise wisely. Whether you arrange additional items on shelving, in clear plastic boxes or even in a separate storage unit, make sure everything is clearly marked and accessible. Resist the temptation to create “Mrs. Flinger’s Room.” (A room where you open the door and fling items in to get them out of the way.) Disorganization can bury you quickly.
Need more information on planning and organizing your resale shop’s inventory? Then, Come with me to the Twilight Zone of inventory management.
Now that resale and consignment shopping have joined the mainstream, it’s time to begin raising up the next generation of consignors. Generation Z kids were born in the mid- 90’s to the early 2000’s. The oldest are in their early 20’s, but it’s never too early to begin teaching about the benefits of consigning and shopping at your store. Generation Z is extremely careful with their finances. They’ve seen the devastation of the recession and the incredible college debt their older brothers and sisters have. They want no part of it. This group demands good value for their money. Which, of course, means consignment. Why not begin teaching Generation Z consignors and shoppers now? Encourage their desire to make money and their need for beautiful clothing at a great price.
The youngest Gen Z’s are just reaching their teens. For years, they’ve studied how it’s their responsibility to take care of the planet. From carbon footprints to greenhouse gases, they are constantly learning different ways to conserve energy and take care of their neighbor. Although it isn’t taught in the schools, purchasing consigned clothing is one of the many ways to reuse, recycle and reduce waste.
If you’re a clothing consignment shop, take a day where you share statistics from the textile industry. Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles offers the following infographic to teach about textile recycling. In addition, they have some fun children’s lessons on how much it costs to buy used clothing.
EcoWatch also has educational materials that show the dangers of fast fashion to the environment. Greenpeace has gone so far as to rate the clothing companies that are and are not attempting to limit the toxic chemicals in their clothing manufacturing. The good list of businesses removing chemicals includes brands like Adidas, Burberry, H & M and Levi Strauss. Tell your consignors your looking for those brands and share with Generation Z why you’re offering them.
I know many of you have Rewards Programs. We talked about the importance of using them to build customer loyalty in last week’s post. Why not do the same for potential Generation Z consignors? Consider using one display rack or a small section of your shop that’s strictly merchandise for young shoppers from young consignors. Make it a special club or a specific event held a couple of times a year. Reward your youngest shoppers with special discounts or extra loyalty points for choosing consignment over stores at the mall. Begin to build a consignment following.
Do you have a really popular young athlete, musician, designer or blogger in your community? Bring them in to your store for an event. Offer snacks and have a number of fun projects they can participate in. For instance, teach them how to upcycle an old t-shirt, run an eco-essay contest or sponsor a canned food drive. Be sure to post a ton of pictures on social media. Any of these would be perfect back-to-school promotions.
If you want to court the older Generation Z’s, you’ve got to find out what they’re reading. In January of this year, Who What Wear put together a list of the best bloggers for every age of fashion. There were 3 listed for 20 somethings. One, Shine By Three, is quoted as saying, “Knowing where to put your hard-earned cash in the current retail climate where branding is everything and cost can have absolutely no correlation to quality, can be bloody stressful.” Another blogger, The Blonde Salad, covers everything from clothing and hairstyle trends to vacations and people in the news. All 3 are a fascinating look at the next generation.
What do you do to get these 20 somethings shopping in your store and consigning their items? This is where digital comes in. When a 20 something enters your shop, approach them with your iPad or smart phone and begin taking notes. Keep track of what they like and what they buy. With SimpleConsign’s photo app, you can even take their photo and add it immediately to their account. Be ready the next time they come in to review and revise.
Stay informed on the brands that interest them and message your consignors to bring in those items. Set up a Facebook page that’s for age 30 and under only. Promote those brands that appeal to 20 somethings and encourage sign ups to get information on new arrivals first. Especially encourage Generation Z consignors to bring in merchandise that appeals to that group. Use Instagram and Twitter to highlight current Gen Z shoppers and their latest finds. Host a fashion show for back-to-school in the fall.
This may sound like a lot of work for very little immediate gain. However, each generation from here on out is fully aware of the beast known as Amazon. If you are going to compete, you’ve got to stay relevant. Whether you target the age group that’s learning more and more about our environment or you go after young adults, make sure your salespeople can talk the talk. Begin teaching Generation Z consignors and shoppers early and you’ll have customers for life.
P.S. Even the blogger for the 60 somethings, Not Dead Yet Style, in an article titled “Almost Free Frugal Fridays” listed going on a “rambling session at a thrift shop” as one of the best ways to spend an almost free frugal Friday.
This article originally appeared in our SimpleConsign newsletter from 2013. I’ve updated it for you today.
I was reading a blog post about a woman’s experience with two of her local consignment shops. The title of the blog post was “Consignment Shop: Fail!” She used words like “demoralized,” “woes” and “failure.” Even the comments said, “I feel your pain” and “…it was so stinkin’ demoralizing.” The post ended with, “From now on, I’m donating everything to charity.” How do consignment shop owners let potential consignors down gently? Is it even possible? Confrontation is never easy, but there are better ways to tell consignors no thank you.
You have to be secure in your consignment shop policies. When the rules are clear and written down from the start, it’s much easier to say “no thank you.” Before you ever begin accepting items for consignment, make a thorough list of what you will and will not accept. Not only does this help you turn items down, but it also establishes up front what type of merchandise you will be offering in your consignment store. Always give clear and concise reasons why you can’t accept their items based on your policy. Do not waiver!
Even though you may disagree with my choice of the pink elephant peanut bowl, it speaks volumes about who I am. Everyone wants to be affirmed and when it comes to personal possessions, a consignor feels especially vulnerable. Begin your answer, whenever possible, with a solid compliment. Then, follow up with “I” never “you.” An example given in “13 More Things Your Consignment or Thrift Shop Won’t Tell You” from the Reader’s Digest is, “That’s adorable, but I don’t have a market for it.”
Do not waiver in this next step. Get to the point immediately. Handle a consignor’s items with appreciation, but speak with firm resolve. Don’t beat around the bush. You need to have the strength of your policies behind you. Don’t lecture, but use a conversational voice when you tell consignors no. It’s easier to receive. If possible, stand on their side of the counter when chatting with them.
If the first 2 tips don’t help you win their acceptance of your courteous rejection, remember respectful communication should always rule. Thanking them for taking the time to bring in items is essential to building relationships. If there is push back from the consignor, always maintain your cool. Avoid any escalation of emotions. Return kindness for kindness, but never return rudeness.
Your policies are set in writing. You’ve given a straight answer and spoken with confidence and respect. When you tell consignors no, there’s no need to apologize. You didn’t do anything wrong. Don’t feel guilty for not taking items that neither fit your policies or your store brand. In the end, if you do, you’ll be the one to suffer.
Maralee McKee, the Manners Mentor, suggests ending the conversation with an encouraging word. Perhaps the items don’t qualify today, but you never know what they’ve left behind. By leaving with a good experience, a potential consignor isn’t likely to write a nasty review or blog post. Plus, they may return with friends and family ready to do business with just the right merchandise you are looking for.
For suggestions on how to deal with customers who surprisingly aren’t always right, read “In resale, the customer is always right, right?”