Whether you are a craftsperson who makes her own items, you are an importer with goods to sell from another country, or you buy domestic wholesale and you want to make money selling at retail, you are missing out on some opportunities if you neglect consignment shops. These are retail stores that put your items on display and keep a portion of the sale as a commission for selling your goods. But where do you find these opportunities?
In general, there are three types of consignment shops:
- Specialty shops – These shops specialize in a particular type of item. For instance, clothing or antiques.
- Thrift stores – Thrift stores are typically run for charity as a fundraiser to support a cause. They sometimes expect you to donate your items, but in some cases they will take items on consignment. Some thrift stores do both. They quite frequently deal in used items so that they can sell them inexpensively, but you may find some thrift stores that will accept new merchandise or crafted items.
- General merchandise stores – These consignment shops will sell any type of item as long as they think their customers will have an interest.
Each of these types of consignment shops can exist as brick-and-mortar stores or online shops. Some stores may deal with consignors on both ends.
The Scoop on Finding a Consignment Shop
The first thing you should do when looking for a consignment shop is to decide which type of consignment shop you want to place your goods in. Do you deal only with used items? Then you might search for a thrift store. If you sell a specific type of niche item, then you may be interested in a specialty shop.
After looking at your inventory and deciding which type of consignment store to search for, let the search begin. First, look locally. Start with a Google search for "consignment shop" and your city name or zip code to see if you can find local consignment shops near you.
Of course, you can always ask around. If you know other people in your area who sell similar items, ask if they know of any consignment shops in the area.
The Yellow Pages are still a viable reference. If you have a recent phone directory, check there. A reasonable alternative—this is the 21st century, after all—are the online Yellow Pages. Search for "consignment" or "thrift store" near your city and state. TheThriftShopper.com is a good resource for finding thrift stores near you.
Social media is a resource you should not forget about. If you have a presence on Facebook or Twitter, ask your network. Ask them specifically about local and national consignment shops, thrift stores, specialty shops, or whatever type of consignment store you are interested in. The more specific you are, the more likely you are to find someone who can help you.
On Facebook, you can search for groups and pages using the Facebook search feature. Often, if you network with people who make the same types of craft items you make or that sell the same types of goods that you sell, then you can learn where they have their items on consignment. You can then contact those shops directly and let them know what you have to offer. Be careful, however, that you don't compete directly good for good. You may end up burning a bridge or saturating a particular market with like items. If you do that, none of you will make money.
The Key to Successful Retail Consignment Selling
If you want to be success at retailing, regardless of the types of products you sell, the key is to set up a distribution network that provides you with multiple channels of marketing and revenue. That includes your own website and/or retail shop, online consignment shops like Etsy, eBay, and Amazon, and local brick-and-mortar shops.
Before you agree to place your goods in any consignment shop or thrift store, visit the store first, if possible. At the very least, visit the store's website to get a feel for their style, the types of items they sell, and, more importantly, who their core audience is.
One final tip: Once you place your items in a store for resell, if you notice they aren't selling, pull them out. There's no need keeping items on store shelves that aren't moving. Replace those items that don't sell with other items and keep your merchandise circulating. With a little diligence, you'll find the find the right consignment shops for your goods.
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