Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Consignment Shops

Although a consignment shop does not get high prices for antiques and collectibles, it is useful as a way to sell other things when you move or have to clean out an estate. We picked up some great tips on what sells in a consignment shop from a brochure put out by a local store. This shop lowers the price 1 percent each day until an item is sold. After 100 days, the item is given away. Most items sell in 10 days.

Here are some tips from the brochure:

1. Make starting prices on the lower side.

2. You get 25 percent to 50 percent of the sale price; the store gets the rest. So don't compare prices to price book or auction prices.

3. Clean and perhaps even paint, stain or repair some expensive items.

4. Five percent to 10 percent of store items are antiques--they sell well.

5. Unique items like cash registers, saddles or wine presses sell quickly.

6. Knickknacks and accessories sell well--the "more unique, the better."

7. Large items like couches are priced low to move quickly because they take up so much space in the store.

8. Seasonality counts: bikes and patio furniture do not sell in the winter in cold climates. Holiday items drop way down in price immediately after the holiday.

9. Dining room sets sell best in the fall, when people are planning family dinners like Thanksgiving.

10. Table sets do best with four or more chairs.

11. Curio cabinets bring low prices; they are not necessities.

12. Modern end tables and those made of solid wood sell for $25 to $50. Particle-board tables or Early American-style tables sell for $5 to $15 or not at all.

13. Wooden-armed gold, orange or lime green chairs will not sell, even for $5.14. Children's items sell at very low prices.


Needlepoint, paint-by-numbers, hooked-rug pictures, draperies, mattress sets, Hollywood bed frames, waterbeds, books, records, tapes, decorative cookie tins, old sewing machines in traditional cabinets, used puzzles and games and anything worth less than $5.Think about these rules when you have a garage sale or try to sell online. And let us know about any other items you're sure will not sell even at a very low price.


Larkin Vonalt said...

Having dealt with some consignment shops in the past, I think they are a situation that calls for extreme caution, and I would never consign anything that I wasn't willing to give away. eBay is a much better marketplace (and the fees much much less than what you would pay a consignment shop.) Large items are better sold yourself-- a classified ad in the local paper works wonders, and everything else should be given to thrift shops. Why pay someone that kind of "commission" when you don't have to. One consignment shop here got into considerable legal hot water after it told consignees that their item had been donated to charity when really it had been sold and the shop owner kept 100%. If you consign, be careful.

Anonymous said...

Encyclopedias need to, sadly, go into the recycle bin!

scott grandstaff said...

Tools sell well. The guys who go to these shops are usually drug in kicking and screaming, so if there is anything at all they are interested in, they will look.
Condition is everything though. Don't even for a minute think a plane with a busted out side (yes they should have 2 sides!) is going to sell for "book" price. In fact, the prices you see in the books are for complete original tools in nearly perfect (at least to the causal observer) condition.
Price them to move, and they will sell quickly.

Collectibles are very slow to sell. It takes a lot of time and work to list on ebay. Don't kid yourself. But if you want a low paying job, the collectibles you can't sell at yard sales or consignment shops will many times go on ebay.
Sometimes you even get lucky, being as its an auction.
One time we (Kitty and I) had 2 boxes of leftover collectibles after a yard sale. A small town doesn't always host a lot of knoledgeable collectors who know what they are looking at. So we took pictures and listed them on ebay. Some singles for the best stuff and some in groups.
We made $200 after expenses for what we couldn't sell at 25 cents apiece!
yours Scott

Anonymous said...

At an antique shop that I once worked at, items that were put on consignment and did not sell within 3 months automatically became the property of the store. ALWAYS READ THE FINE PRINT BEFORE YOU SIGN ANYTHING! Ebay may be a better option, and there are now ebay stores set up where you take the item in and they list it for you.

Anonymous said...

Books & Records don't sell?? I own antique store with a wee bit of not-so-old stuff and even I can sell books - new or old! And vinyl LP's(records) are making a huge comeback. I sell the majority for a buck to $3 but if I pay 25 cents each then that's pretty good. Some records sell for much more, if they are in good condition - Beatles, Elvis, old jazz, country and rock n roll by bands that still have huge followings.
So if you want to donate or sell records(since consignments shops won't take them) PLEASE bring them to me!! jeanne, Bad Girls Antiques, North Bend WA

Anonymous said...

Isnt it funny how some things are just plain "cultural". Some of thos things you say that even a consignment shop wont take in the US are quite easily sold here in the UK - things the sewing machine and the decorative cake tins (for collectors).LPs and other records are really sought after here too - but I guess it depends on the town you are in also.

Anonymous said...

I have an antiques shop that has dealers and also takes consignments.
We have had great sucess with getting people more money for antiques than a regular consignment shop or auction.

Anonymous said...

What will NOT sell - Milkglass, we can't give it away

jillbeth said...

I buy abandoned self-storage units and sell the contents. You'd be surprised how many waterbeds we run across. I try to avoid these units but sometimes I'm tempted by the other things inside. I did sell one waterbed as a pick-up-only auction on eBay, scrapped the next one because the frame was damaged, and the third one has been sitting on my porch for over a month waiting for a buyer! It won't be total loss, however, my husband says if I decided to scrap it he wants the side boards for shelving!

Anonymous said...

Pick your consignment shop carefully - location is key! Look for a shop that will attract buyers that isn't located in a "blow by" area of a highway. It doesn't matter how attractively priced or displayed your item is if the shop doesn't get enough traffic.

Anonymous said...

Pick your consignment shop carefully - location is key! Look for a shop that will attract buyers that isn't located in a "blow by" area of a highway. It doesn't matter how attractively priced or displayed your item is if the shop doesn't get enough traffic.

Anonymous said...

I learned 10 years ago that consignment shops are a "rip off" for the sellers or the uninitiated unless you just need to get rid of stuff (better to get a tax deduction from a charity store.) The good old fashioned estate sale is still the best bet, paying the sellers 20 to 30% of the take, or a yard sale at a good location (join someone else's sale if you're not in a good location). In my area (ATL GA) collectibles go first in the consignment shops.

Anonymous said...

Old hi-fi stereos in "lowboy" type cabinets rarely sell, if at all, even though the "stereophonic sound" can be pretty impressive if they are still working. Plus, they weigh a ton. Every once in a while, a young man in his 20s thinks these are pretty cool and may buy one for his frat house or apartment for around $ 20 or so. But if, as a previous poster noted, LPs are making a comeback, perhaps hi fis are not far behind, particularly if Renovation Hardware starts marketing a reproduction of them. Groovy!

Anonymous said...

Many consignment shops are really mini museums where someone displays their grandmother’s $15.00 ceramic pitcher for $500.00, and fills the rest of the space with items Goodwill no longer accepts. In the words of one consignment owner, “I didn’t cover rent again last month, guess I will raise prices to make up the difference.”

Anonymous said...

Something else that is not selling, not even on EBay is vintage, antique magazine ads. Even those from early 1900's. One out of 15 sold for me on EBay. That's bad!

Anonymous said...

Our consignment store will take hust about anything if it is "clean". They don't want furniture or appliances of any kind, however, because of a lack of floor space.
After a set time, they want you to come in and pick up your stuff or they will consider it 'theirs'. Only fair, really - they have overhead to pay.
eBay is still the best way to sell collectibles. Why not find someone to set up your stuff on their webstore and split the profit? There is at least one ex-MIL that makes a nice chunk of change for her ex-SIL for stuff that he finds at his job at the dump, and yes, it all shows up at the dump, sooner or later. ;(

ivysbooks said...

It's true that books don't sell at consignment stores or even at garage sales but if the books are in really good condition and you are willing to only get a dollar or two for each one than try selling them on Amazon or If they have damage though the best thing to do is put them in the recycling bin because people are only willing to buy books in almost perfect condition. Also, be prepared to spend some time listing and shipping.

Anonymous said...

There are a wide range of "consignment" shops, as described. Some indeed are a side business outlet for dealers, some don't let you know all of their terms before they are sold and some do just "lose" items and pay you the agreed original value.

Many cities do have consignment shops that will split the sales price, normally 50/50, with charities and are very good for both sales and deductions (as defined by your accountant).

That said, there are some very honest and strong shops which will either buy outright or take fine items on consignment for decent items, usually $50 and up.

I do believe in the auction world, but I also know of people who have received "record" prices for items on consignment through a retail dealer. The commission may look higher than at auction, but if you look at the published sales price that includes the buyer’s premium, a piece that shows at $2400 probably netted the seller about $1700 (if it was a friendly contract).

If you have a great piece for a specific market, major dealers can indeed market them for record prices to collectors who want something that is "fresh" to the market. Most are not publicized, but even Christie's and Sotheby's have acted as a "consignment" dealer, negotiating a direct sale rather than at auction.

It is true that a pressed wood piece from 1895 is not a collectible antique that would be hard to sell, but the right Arts & Crafts oak chair or plastic radio could be worth $20,000, so be careful!

Anonymous said...

Our local consignment shop is a total rip off. They don't tell you but after 30 days you can't have your items back or get the money they owe you. Plus they changed their rules mid stream (after they had my stuff) I ended up getting only $21.00 (they paid me 10% they said) of over $3000.00 worth of clothing that still had the price tags on them (my daughter lost a great deal of weight and shrunk faster than she could keep up with cloths fitting her). Plus on a return trip I found the owner wearing some of the clothes........ From now on I'll just donate everything to our local hospital thrift shop. They take EVERYTHING and put it to good use.

Anonymous said...

Two more items no one seems interested in selling: a 1960's Zenith TV in a cabinet (good condition) and a 1950's hardly-used Kenmore waffle iron with accompanying booklets. Suggestion: Give vintage clothing, furniture, etc. to local theater groups or university theater depts. They are usually grateful for these "genuine" props!!

Anonymous said...

Yes, please donate any of the above items to theatre groups of any kind. Granted, some have limited space for storage, but make the effort. Even those chairs with wooden arms and green, gold and orange upholstery would be so welcomed! You would be amazed at what talented people can do with paint, fabric, a few tools and some creativity.

Jeanne Rhea said...

This is my first visit to your blog and really, I am shocked at your list of items that consignment stores do not want or that they claim do not sell well. Maybe that is part of the reason consignment stores seem to disappear overnight.

Really, I could make a living selling some of these items that you have listed---and I have made a living doing so. LPs sell really well if in very good condition (anything less and they should be tossed or made into another product) and I am talking about in lots of venues.

Have you not heard of all of the women (mainly) who buy lots of the items that qualify for Paris apartment, cottage chic and shabby chic (I know this is a trademark.)? Where do you think they get a lot of their items? Many of them are bought in consignment stores or even antique shops that allow booths of vintage items and they paint, reassemble and alter the items to fit a need or a look. They are not concerned so much with the VALUE of an article, but what they can do to make it work for them. There are many women making a living selling these items in consignment shops as well as using them for their own home decor. And those lime green, gold and orange chairs that just will never sell for you will be snatched up before they can get in the door.

I have sold on eBay for years, but the shipping costs have risen so much that it is not worth the time for listing and packaging as people can no longer pay what they used to pay.

My suggestion for selling and buying most things these days is craigslist. I have bought and sold items from $20 to $10,000. Anything less than $20 is not worth the gas for most people to even come and pick up. So I sell boxes of LPs for $50 or boxes of books for one money instead of trying to sell individually. IMO, eBay is tired and out of touch and just not worth the cost and time it takes to list. Craigslist is where it is at for selling AND buying.

Anonymous said...

To clean out our accumulation of stuff - my husband and I are borderline "hoarders" - I implemented a plan that I am hoping will work for us. Magazines, books and small flat items - I list on ebay. Shipping is reasonable for these items - although I stay away from media rates because as my post office tells me - they sit for periods of time and are treated much more casually than first class mail. Depending on the item - I may list it on Amazon instead of ebay. For crafting items - there is etsy. Then, I set up an account at our local consignment store - which is a 50/50 deal. I shop there myself a lot - so it helps to offset money out of my pocket. I sell stuff I no longer want or need and turn around and buy something that I have been watching. The items I take to consignment are things I am willing to donate to begin with so I feel no remorse if it doesn't sell and is donated to charity later. Whatever the consignment store doesn't take - I take it on over to our local charity. I never bring anything back home once I make the decision to be rid of it. Then, large items like furniture, garden items, etc. I list on craigslist. I have two goals - getting rid of clutter and making a little money in the process. I think you really have to look at your items - if you would buy it in the condition its in -then maybe it will sell. In today's world, if its not a bargain - people just can't afford to spend large amounts of money unless ita a necessity. I recently sold a book on ebay that I listed for $15. When the auction was over, I got $150 for it. I had no idea it was that valuable. But even if I had it to do over - I would have listed it the same way. I had no use for it - and the person who purchased it was thrilled to be the proud owner.

Negi said...

Thanks for great information you write it very clean. I am very lucky to get this tips from you

Omaha Consignment Store