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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cash In Your Clothes

After the excess of the holiday season, many people are now in the mood to streamline. It’s the perfect time to organize your closet, and while you’re at it, you’ll probably find a few items you have either never worn or barely used—perfect for taking to a consignment store.


Consignment stores are one of the few success stories of this recession. According to the National Association of Resale & Thrift Shops, sales rose about 35 percent last year. I asked some owners of local consignment stores for tips on how to turn castoffs into cash, and here’s what I learned:


Pick clothing that is either never worn or like-new, says Lilian McDonnell, the owner of Kailua Verde Boutique (111 Hekili Street, Suite 102, 261-6190). Special occasion clothing is ideal because it’s usually only worn once or twice.


Most desired at consignment shops?

  • High-end handbags.
  • Designer jeans, like 7 For All Mankind.
  • Popular brand names, like Juicy Couture and Cinnamon Girl.
  • Nice aloha wear for men.


Least desired by consignment shop owners:

  • Shoes, which don’t tend to sell well, even if they have never been worn.
  • Suits. (Conversely, you can get terrific deals on suits in Hawaii because so few people seem to want them. Think $150 for a St. John’s suit that would have originally retailed for $700 to $800.)
  • Old fashioned muumuu.
  • Out-of-date styles in general.


Stick to about 10 items. Stores don’t have endless racks or storage; so don’t drag in a huge quantity of clothing. But don’t worry about the sizes of the clothing. Many shops want to carry something for everyone and are open to a range of sizes.


Prep for presentation. Make sure everything is either freshly washed or dry-cleaned and on a hanger. The better the presentation of the clothing, the more money you will earn off your consignments.


Call for an appointment. Consignment store owners will set aside time for you to come in, go through everything, discuss the prices the items will be offered at, and there will likely be paperwork, such as a contract and or an itemized list, to create. McDonnell suggests coming into the store with a list of what you have and the prices you would like to see them go for.


Game on! Some consignment stores will try to sell your clothing and accessories for 30 days, others, up to 90 days. If an item hasn’t sold, the store will ask if you want to lower the price, or you can come back and pick up your clothing. “Most people will just reduce the price. Once it’s out of the house, they don’t want it back,” says McDonnell. When the item sells, you will receive a check with your cut. For example, McDonnell pays 50 percent of the price. So if your skirt sold for $40, you get $20. Many stores offer even more if you take your payment as store credit instead of cash. 

High-end Consignment

If you have a pricey handbag by Louis Vuitton, Dior or Chanel, take it to a place that specializes in designers. Try Paris Station (Kahala Mall, 734-5000 and 947 Keeaumoku Street, 942-3000) or Luxury Exchange (725 Kapiolani Blvd., 589-6000). Luxury Exchange, for example, carries about 1,000 handbags, wallets and other accessories from high-end designers. “Ebay and Paypal add up to about 12 percent fees, so going with a more specific vendor instead can make you more money than trying to sell it yourself, says Matthew Lucas, one of the co-owners of Luxury Exchange. He notes that luxury goods sell best in an environment where they are surrounded by other high-end items. Some handbags may even sell for more than you originally paid for them, if they are marketed to the right collector.

 Want to see more on consigning your clothes? Click here.

Posted on Wednesday, January 13, 2010 in Permalink

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