Just in time for the holidays!
By Stella Veraduccia
Grandad’s collection of antique pens. Your kids’ assortment of “Happy Meals” toys. Your ex-husband’s boxes upon boxes of vintage baseball cards that you never wanted but still have. If you’re like most people, you’ve got stuff that you don’t need, that’s taking up space, and that somebody else might want to buy. If you’re willing to put in a little effort upfront, you can turn your cast-offs into cash just in time for the upcoming holidays.
The resale sector in the U.S. tops $17 billion in revenues annually and is growing by 7 percent per year. This includes consignment shops and websites offering second-hand clothing and accessories, jewelry, antiques and collectibles, furniture, housewares, and specialty items. Over the next 10 years, the growth rate is expected to outpace all e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail sectors, for several reasons: it’s a great example of the environmentally friendly “reduce, reuse, recycle” philosophy; buying second-hand has become not only acceptable but popular among consumers at all economic levels; contemporary fashion and decorating trends include eclectic and retro accents; and people of all ages enjoy the hunt for fabulous treasures at favorable prices.
Consignment shops have been around for decades and run the gamut from cluttered junk shops to lovely boutiques – and if you’re selling, you want the latter. Veteran consignor Rosanne Zeher enjoys recycling clothing through Carousel Consignments in Manassas and The Very Thing for Her in Haymarket. She says, “It’s a fun way both to downsize and to refresh your look. And it’s nice to shop the seasons and find unique clothes and jewelry.” Both eBay and Craigslist have been around for decades too, but some trendy new resale sites have sprung up online, specializing in upscale clothing and accessories – these include Poshmark, thredUP, Vinted, Tradeasy, and TheRealReal, among others. These resalers use apps and social-media platforms for flash sales and turn inventory over quickly; each has different policies, so do some research to find the best fit for you and what you’d like to sell.
If you decide to go the brick-and-mortar route (see list of local shops), here are some guidelines for getting the most from your consignment experience:
Visit the store before asking about its consignment policies.
Take note of what types of items it carries– there’s no point in bringing in military memorabilia or vintage toys if the store doesn’t take them. Notice how items similar to yours are priced. If the staff is not too busy, tell them a bit about what you’d like to sell. (Having photos on your phone to show them helps, too.)
Follow the store’s guidelines.
Some shops require an appointment to accept consignments, especially furniture, while others don’t. Some limit how many items you can consign at once. Most limit how long items are displayed before they’re marked down. In addition, there are different policies regarding retrieval of items that don’t sell. Above all, understand the split between your share and the store’s commission – usually 50/50, but not always.
Prepare and present your items to their best advantage.
Whatever it is, it must be clean (that means: clothing laundered, silver polished, glass and china washed, knick-knacks dusted); free of defects (no tears, holes, chips or cracks); complete (all parts included in the right places); and usable (in good working order or wearable condition).
Price your items realistically.
Most shops allow you to price your items or will price them for you if you’d like. Do some research on items similar to those you’d like to sell to get a realistic idea of their resale value.
Include any information you know about antique or vintage items.
Technically, an item must be at least 100 years old to be called “antique” – if less than that, or if you don’t know, it’s “vintage.” Antiques buyers like things that have history; if you’re consigning with antiques shops, it helps to know when and where items were made, of what materials, and anything else of interest. If it’s a rare or valuable item, you might engage a professional appraiser, or go online to WorthPoint.com, Kovels.com, or ValueMyStuff.com to get a more informal valuation. So, go ahead and rummage around the attic; see what forgotten gems might shine in new settings, and add some weight to your wallet. The holidays are coming and all of us can use some extra cash!
Great Local Antiques and Consignment Shops:
The Copper Cricket Consignment Shop
15026 Washington Street, Haymarket
On Facebook at @CopperCricketConsignments
Do You… DéJà Vu
43 Main Street, Warrenton
On Facebook at @DoYouDejavu
About the Author: Stella Veraduccia is the pen name of a popular writer based in Northern Virginia. In past lives she was an English teacher, writer and editor, nonprofit executive, and the founder of a fictitious organization called The International Sisterhood of Eccentric Aunties.