How to Sell Clothes on Consignment

You can make extra money by selling items you don't want at consignment stores.

Recently, I wrote that an easy way to make extra money is to sell furniture at consignment stores. Another way to generate cash is to sell clothing, shoes and accessories on consignment. But before you start rummaging through your closet for clothing you no longer wear, you need to know how to get started consigning.

I have sold clothes on consignment, so I know the process pretty well. But procedures can vary from store to store. So I asked Ellen Boryan, manager of the Alexandria, Va., location of Current Boutique, which has three other locations in the Washington, D.C., area, to share her tips on selling clothes on consignment.

Pick the right store. You need to research the consignment shops in your area to find the right fit for the clothing you have to sell. Boryan says that the easiest way to do this is to visit stores' Web sites to find out what sort of clientele they cater to and what brands and items they accept. Some focus only on designer labels while others, such as Current Boutique, will take any brands. If a store doesn't list the brands it accepts, call or visit it to find out.

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Make an appointment. Once you find the right store, call to schedule a time when you can bring in your items. Most consignment stores do require first-time consignors to make an appointment so they can fill out any necessary paperwork, set up an account and have an employee select which items the store will take. Some require a certain number of items to start consigning. And some even require appointments every time you want to bring in additional items.

Make sure your items meet the store's standards. Most stores want clothing, shoes and accessories that are no more than two years old. Boryan says that Current Boutique requires items to be in perfect condition. So you should inspect your items thoroughly before you take them in to make sure there are no missing buttons, no pilling, no unraveling hems and no stains, she says. Current Boutique accepts clothing that is wrinkled, but many stores require clothes to be pressed and on hangers. Also, many stores accept only in-season items.

Get paid. Most consignment stores will price items at one-third of their retail value, but pricing can vary depending on the condition and brand of the item. You'll likely get 50% of the price at which your items sell. Most stores will not automatically mail you a check when your items sell. You'll need to call or visit the store to request payment -- or you might also be able to get store credit.

Cameron Huddleston
Former Online Editor, Kiplinger.com
Huddleston wrote the daily "Kip Tips" column for Kiplinger.com. She joined Kiplinger in 2001 after graduating from American University with an MA in economic journalism.