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How to Shop at Consignment Stores

Updated on October 29, 2012
Secondhand Furniture
Secondhand Furniture | Source

What are Consignment Stores?

Are you interested in saving money or finding great deals? Consignment shopping may be for you!

Items in consignment stores are owned by other people and provided for sale in stores that sell items for the owners. The stores display the items and handle the sale in exchange for taking a percent of the sale price. The rest goes back to the item's previous owner.

Shopping at consignment stores can be very rewarding. Not only can you find some great deals, but you may also be able to purchase hard-to-find items such as antiques or wedding dresses!

What to Buy at Consignment Shops

Not every item is a good idea to buy at a consignment shop. For example, look for items that are well made and of high quality, to help ensure that they will retain value after you buy them. Also, look for items that are gently used and not too worn. Here are some examples of items that are usually good buys at consignment stores:

  • Infant or baby shoes or clothes
  • Well-made furniture
  • Dressy or "black tie" clothing, including prom dresses
  • Books
  • Toys in good condition
  • Dishes or other kitchen items

Vintage Clothing
Vintage Clothing | Source

Secondhand Items: Inspect Before You Buy

With all items, inspect them thoroughly before buying. When purchasing clothing, look for signs of wear, rips or tears, missing buttons or zippers that don't work. For furniture items, test sturdiness and check fabrics for stains or tears.

When buying books, look for torn pages, excessive notes or highlighting, or broken spines. These could all decrease the value of the item. Exceptions can be made for rare or antique books.

When buying toys, inspect them thoroughly and make sure all parts are included, and all moving parts work as expected. Don't be ashamed to play with the toys in the store! You want to make sure you are getting a good product for the price.

Consignment Shopping
Consignment Shopping | Source

What do you like to purchase at consignment shops?

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Save Money while Shopping!

You can save even more money when shopping at consignment stores by knowing how and when to shop. As with any retail store, there are cycles to when items are discounted. Here are some tips to finding better than advertised deals:

  • Join the store's email and mailing lists. If they have sales or discounts for special customers, you'll know in advance.
  • Like the store on Facebook and follow them on Twitter to keep up with their activity and sales.
  • Watch for cycles of discounts and sales. These could be based on the calendar (month-end sales) or based on how long the items have been in the store. Do they mark down items that have been there too long?
  • Get to know the staff and become a regular customer. You are more likely to get preferential treatment, and they may notify you when something you are looking for comes into the store. Let them know what kinds of items you want to buy.

Shopping at consignment stores can be both fun and rewarding. Whether you are looking for a great deal on a dress for an upcoming cocktail party or that perfect table for your living room, following these tips can make consignment shopping worthwhile.

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    • Amy Gillie profile image
      Author

      Amy Gillie 5 years ago from Indiana

      Thanks Marcy! I love the thrill of a great find!

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      I've found some amazing things at consignment stores - and I've personally donated some real treasures to Goodwill or other organizations. I've seen the mark-downs of items that have been there a while, too. My favorite finds, aside from a few clothing items, are a pair of matching dressers I got that are beautifully made and designed and easily would have cost many times what I paid.

      Terrific topic! Thanks!

    • Amy Gillie profile image
      Author

      Amy Gillie 5 years ago from Indiana

      Thanks adjkp25! I'm glad she has luck finding clothing there. Thanks for the read.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      My wife enjoys shopping at consignment stores because it is difficult for her to find jeans, off the rack, that fit her being a small lady. She typically has more success at consignment stores so she usually looks for them first.

      I believe this is a great beginners guide to shopping at consignment stores, good job.