5 hot ideas to boost consignment summer sales

Boost consignment summer sales during the “Dog Days”

After July 4th, but before “Back-to-School” sales, comes the “Dog Days” of summer. It’s that time of year when everyone is tired of the heat, worn out by the lack of routine and basically done with summer. There is very little to capitalize on for marketing inspiration. Stir up a little excitement and boost summer sales with an event that’s both fun and memorable.

1.) Celebrate a new holiday

Did you know Sunday, August 4th is Friendship Day? It’s the perfect opportunity to boost summer sales. A lot of consignment and resale stores are normally closed on Sunday. For this one day only, create a special “Be-a-friend-and-bring-a-friend” event. Choose your top 20% highest-spending customers and make it a special “invitation only” afternoon.  Give customers access to exclusive merchandise that’s been reserved for this day. Offer a discount, prize drawing or interesting giveaways. If Friendship Day doesn’t interest you, go to Holiday Insights. Pick a fun holiday and make a memory!

2.) Host a “how-to” night

July is the time to host an in-store workshop. Whether you’ve done live Facebook sales or video chats, an in-store event is completely different. This time, it’s all about your customers. What do they want to learn? If you’re in an area with a large number of snowbirds who head south for the winter, teach a class on wardrobe planning or how to pack your suitcase. When your best shoppers are young, host a do-it-yourself class on turning a dresser into a shabby chic buffet. It’s important to find what appeals to the demographics of your customers.

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3.) Awareness/fundraising event

Often charities see a lag in donations during the summer. This would be a perfect time to highlight a local charity such as a food bank, women’s shelter or humane society. Be sure to tie a discount to the donation of canned goods, clothing or other specified items. The organization you choose may even provide a collection bin. Choose National Underwear Day (Monday, August 5th) created by Freshpair and collect underwear items to give to charity. There are many creative ways to give back to your local community.

4.) Consider “Christmas in July”

Summer sales include SantaDress your staff in Santa hats; decorate your shop with red and green; play Christmas music and add the scent of evergreen. Consider renting a snow-cone machine to serve red and green “snow balls” or invite Santa to the shop in his Bermuda shorts. Make it a fun summer sales event for all ages.

5.) Boost consignment summer sales with a clearance countdown

Put together a special 4-week sale that builds anticipation for the shopper and helps you clear out summer merchandise. During the first week, offer 25% off all summer clearance items. The second week, offer 50% off and the third week offer a 75% discount. End the promotion with a “Buy-the-Bag” sale or “Everything’s a $1” sale.

5 DIY summer consignment store window displays

Your consignment store window displays should really pop this summer

Have you ever seen those hilarious Pinterest Fails? You know, the people who attempt the clever Pinterest DIY ideas and end up with a glob of dough or a completely unrecognizable decoration? That’s me. I, however, have more faith in you. That’s why I’ve put together a collection of 5 DIY consignment store window display ideas. Will yours be a success or failure?

The DIY summer pinwheel wall

Consignment store window displays include pinwheels

Okay, you have to admit these would be fabulous in your consignment store window, particularly if you had a small fan that kept them moving! This idea comes from Oh Happy Day. Of course, it includes “easy-to-follow” instructions. One of the main design rules for store displays is to draw the eye with big, bold shapes and colors. Repetitive shapes give the eye a way to rest. Incorporate the colors of your logo or brand.

Another DIY paper pinwheel backdrop

Consignment store widow display with large paper pinwheels

This one, believe or not, I’ve actually done. It’s an easier version of the movable pinwheels, but looks just as stunning on a large scale. Stick them on dowel rods painted green; lay out a section of AstroTurf and you have an instant garden for your store window. The instructions are here.

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Large scale maps and/or black and white photos

Summer consignment store window displays should definitely include maps

Summertime consignment store window displays should definitely include maps. Travel is summer’s biggest theme and the bigger the map, the better. The beauty of using old maps and photos is how easy it is to enlarge them. Take them to your nearest Staples store and have them create engineering blueprint size images. By creating only black and white images, you could spend as little as $8 for a 36″ x 48″ photo. Head to Home Depot and purchase MDF sheets. Use spray adhesive to attach the images to the MDF.

vintage photos enlarged make perfect window displays

Group a number of related photos or maps as a backdrop by hanging them with fishing line from the ceiling. Add props and merchandise to complete the showcase. If you’re at a loss for vintage black and white photos, New Old Stock offers many for free or a very nominal fee. However, visiting your nearest thrift store can also turn up a number of interesting maps and photos as well.

Anything red, white and blue

summer displays have to include the colors red, white and blue too

Summer is also about red, white and blue at least in America. Anytime you can use these colors for a summertime display, your windows will pop. Here’s a suggestion just taking old picture frames (something that seems to be in abundance these days) and painting them. You could choose a mono-chromatic color scheme as well if you’re looking for something other than patriotic. These frames are also filled with interesting papers and gels to add an extra punch.

Why not use plywood and rope?

consignment window displays

This was another inexpensive and clever idea I found. The designer used pieces of cut plywood and rope as the backdrop for a men’s store. One again, the suitcase helps to give a vacation feel to the window.

Other points to remember:

  • Keep your target market in mind
  • Follow your branding
  • Tell a story with your windows, don’t just show merchandise
  • Limit the merchandise so the items look more expensive. Avoid clutter.
  • Use lighting to add interest
  • The focal point should always be at eye level
  • Regularly change your front window display

Don’t get stuck without a fun summer marketing event

This post has been revised from a blog post originally written on June 25, 2014

An exciting summer marketing event keeps shoppers engaged

Generally speaking, summer is the time for families to change up their routine and kick back a little. It’s also a great time to reach shoppers through social media. Make sure this summer you have a fun summer marketing event that reminds your shoppers why they love you.

A Social Media Photo Contest

Pick a theme for this summer marketing event. A clothing consignment shop can highlight favorite outfits customers have bought to wear on a special summer date. Or, outfits to wear at the beach. If you’re a children’s shop, consider a photo contest of kids in outfits for summer play. A furniture consignment shop could feature “rooms where I do my summer reading” or “my favorite spot on lazy summer days.” Of course, all of these ideas must feature merchandise purchased in your shop. Customers submit their photos matching your theme with your special contest hashtag. Draw a winner randomly or have visitors to your Facebook page vote for their favorite. Your prize must be worthy of the time required to take and upload a photo. Consider a tie-in with a local restaurant for dinner, tickets for a family outing or merchandise giveaways. Read Why you should use Facebook contests.

Summer Quiz

I always take those surveys such as “What sports car are you most like” or “Which world leader do you most closely resemble.” They’re fun and a great way to build new leads. Set up your survey around your merchandise. Ask questions about different styles of clothing or design. Most stores can ask, “Do you consider your style casual or sophisticated?” Pose a variety of questions and give customers 4 answers to choose from. At the end of the survey, show the respondent items from your shop that fit their answers. Design your quiz on Interact. They offer a free version that’s extremely easy to set up. However, you don’t receive email leads from the free trial. Sign up for the annual plan and create as many fun quizzes as you like. Here’s mine, Find out which resale-loving celebrity is just like you.

Create your own holiday

Did you know August 1st is National Girlfriends Day or August 6th is Friendship Day? Both of those are a perfect time to host a summer marketing event encouraging customers to bring a friend to shop. Serve punch and cookies, offer special discounts or a grand prize giveaway. Be sure to collect the email addresses of everyone who attends. Holiday Insights lists unusual holidays for every month of the year. Pick an odd one like July 27 which is Take Your Pants for a Walk Day and offer a special price on every pair of pants in the store.

National Thriftshop Day

Every resale shop should be celebrating this special holiday on August 17. Even though it’s on a Thursday this year, this summer marketing event should be a big one. Take time to promote the 3 Rs…Recycle, Reuse and Reduce. Read How to be a leader for Generation Z consignors  to get some great ideas for younger shoppers. This holiday is a perfect day to clear out summer merchandise and get ready for fall. Create a special Clearance Countdown over a 4-week period. Start the week of July 16 offering a 25% off discount on all summer merchandise. The second week, offer 50% off and the third week offer a 75% discount. End the promotion on National Thriftshop Day with a “Buy-the-Bag” sale.

Christmas in July

Get your customers shopping early. Dress your staff in Santa hats; decorate your shop with red and green; play Christmas music and add the scent of evergreen. Consider renting a snow-cone machine to serve red and green “snow balls.” Or, invite Santa to the shop in his Bermuda shorts. Make a memory for all ages.


Summer merchandising displays that will create an impact

The season’s colors create exciting summer merchandising displays

Some of the best sources for inspiration come from the fashion and interior design industries. After a long spring, summer ushers in a playful attitude with lots and lots of bright colors. Trending colors for summer 2017 include splashes of bright orange, candy apple red, magenta and tropical pink. All of them are perfect for creating fantastic summer merchandising displays.

Your summer merchandising displays should pop

Summer merchandising displays should be brightly colored

Consider hanging rope in your shop window, tying colorful strips of fabric or crepe paper to create a fabulous back drop. Vintage themes are still trending too which is great news for the consignment and resale industry. Add industrial chic or anything mid-century to your furniture displays. Fill your consignment furniture store windows with bright summer colors and as much vintage kitsch as possible.

Use colors in furniture stores for summer merchandising displays

Take advantage of summer holidays

Be sure to use all of the summer themes. Your summer merchandising displays can be inspired by upcoming holidays, weather changes and even local community events. You can always find some great decorating ideas on Pinterest too. Understandably, the focus of your summer merchandising displays should be outdoor activities. From picnics, bike rides, swimming and camping to concerts, festivals and farmer’s markets, summer provides plenty of opportunities for creativity. Be sure to use outdoor furniture, coolers, grills, fire pits and string lanterns as props to set the mood for a captivating display. From the Fourth of July to Labor Day, summer is always filled with patriotic pride. For instance, make these adorable rockets out of wrapping paper tubes, colorful wrapping paper and streamers.

Paper rockets are perfect for summer merchandising displays

In addition to bright summer merchandising displays, offer your shoppers a cold bottle of water and a place to rest a minute. If possible, touch all five senses. Scents like summer linen or ocean breeze are perfect for creating atmosphere. If you’re in an area where air conditioning is a must, service it before the temperature rises. Since kids are out of school, create a play area while Mom shops. The more fun you add to the experience of shopping in your store this summer, the better.

For more merchandising ideas, Read 4 crazy examples of “innovative” store merchandising


Are Tax-Free Holidays beneficial?

Find out if those tax-free holidays are right for you

Just when you thought you could relax and enjoy those lazy, crazy days of summer, you realize it’s time for your shop to begin planning for the busy Back-to-School shopping season and a possible tax-free holiday. According to RetailDIVE, consumer spending for the 2015 Back-to-School season will be higher than last year. Nearly a third of households with children ages 6 to 17 and college-age kids plan to spend more this season.

The bad news is…they’re waiting for bargains. The good news is…consignment and resale can begin promoting those bargains now!

Take advantage of your state’s tax-free holiday

Seventeen states plus Puerto Rico are offering tax-free holidays with August 7 – 9 being the most popular one by far. Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon are on a “permanent tax holiday.” These five states don’t have a general sales tax at all. Massachusetts offered a tax-free weekend last year and is apparently still debating the benefits for 2015. Clothing tops the list in every state that’s offering a late summer tax break. According to the Motley Fool, households buy 49% more clothing and 45% more shoes during a tax-free holiday.

Does the good outweigh the bad?

The question is, however, do the benefits outweigh the hassles? As you can see, each state offering a tax benefit has different requirements. Some only offer the savings on particular items while others, like Missouri, offer a tax-free weekend for every purchase made, and some states add the burden of determining local taxes vs. sales taxes. The argument is made that families would have made these purchases anyway, they just chose to shop on that particular date. Plus, a tax-free holiday may require additional training for your salespeople, as well as a recalculation in your POS software. (If you happen to be a SimpleConsign user, it’s easy to set all or individual categories to “Tax Exempt” in the system.)

Many shops say the benefits have been tremendous though, even rivaling Black Friday sales. Not only have they seen an increase in sales but there’s been a boost in community goodwill as well. A tax-free holiday puts them on a level playing field with those online shops not required to charge tax. Amazon.com is even participating in those states that are normally required to pay taxes. Some states, such as Alabama, also provide marketing materials to promote the event. Before making a decision, check your state’s requirements and see what other assistance is offered to you.

Some Back to School promotional ideas

Whether good or bad, now is the time to get prepared for the biggest late summer sales event of the year.  A few Back-to-School promotional ideas I gleaned from meylah.com include offering a special discount for teachers trying to build their school wardrobe; putting up a booth at a local college orientation offering dorm design ideas and even holding a college-age fashion show. “Last Chance” sales are also a good idea at this time of year. They’re a great way to clean out your summer inventory and add a sense of urgency to the shopping season.


How To Respectfully Handle Requests For Time Off

Here’s some tips for handling requests for time off

As the season for weddings, vacations and time home with the kids begins to heat up so do the vacation requests.  Now’s the time to take a closer look at your shop’s strategy for handling requests for time off.

It starts with trust

The rewards an employer reaps by showing your employees you trust them goes a long way to building a staff of ambassadors. When employees are trusted to take time off reasonably, they invest themselves even more in your business. Your interest in them personally builds that loyalty. Your staff will “go the extra mile” when you acknowledge there’s life outside of work. Unfortunately, some will abuse your trust, but a loss of freedom can change that quickly.

Put it in writing

If you already have a written policy in place, you’re miles ahead. Your employees must know you’re a fair employer and the best way to communicate this is to spell it out. Clearly, an employee training manual that states your policies regarding duties, sales procedures and time off is essential. In Tip #596, WhizBang Training writes, “In your employee training manual, make it clear that schedule requests are just that – requests – not a given.” The bottom line…how will an employee’s absence affect your service to customers?

Create a form

Avoid disappointments because an employee told you last fall they needed time off this July and it wasn’t written down. Get every request in writing. Use a Schedule Request Form. Again, WhizBang Training says, “Consider time off requests on a first-come, first-served basis. So if two people want the same day off, the one who submits their form first gets priority.” No request form…no time off.

Shift trades/self-scheduling

Recently, there’s been a lot of press about the need for setting employee work schedules well in advance. Discussions include paying employees a higher wage when they are asked to work on days they aren’t regularly scheduled. Advanced scheduling is beneficial for everyone. However, there’s something to be said for allowing your employees to trade shifts with one another too. Give them greater control of their scheduling and they’ll know you trust them. Still, there are dangers with this type of scheduling. ShiftPlanning reminds us, “If you are going to allow shift trades you should make it clear that these will all need to be approved by the management first of all, and that swaps can only occur between people doing the same job.”

A well-trained staff

Obviously, only a seasoned staff that understands the nature of your shop and how to sell can accept schedule challenges. Successfully train your employees and you’ll have a group of sales professionals ready to take responsibility and work even harder for you.


For more on time off requests and how to handle them, check out our follow up blog on Negotiating Employee Time Off Requests Fairly.

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