I’m a Consignment Reject

June 17, 2013

By Karen

Weight Watchers® success has me trying to find new homes for a wardrobe in sizes 16-2X.

AmVets got the rattiest stuff for rags, but some cruise and business attire and last summer’s little-worn outfits deserved better. So I tried consignment.

It would have been easier to build my own boutique.

The elusive proprietors of Richmond’s sole plus-size shop were available only by appointment, only when the kids were in school. Clothes must be clean, in perfect condition, and seasonal — reasonable enough — but also pressed and on hangers.

I prepped my summer’s best while calling repeatedly, only to FINALLY reach someone and get, “This season’s all booked.” (WHEN??!! HOW??!!) “Try again in the fall.”

The next shop had the word “Finicky” in its name. They sell only to size 18, which disqualified most of my clothes. Big women, don’t clog their aisles.

They did accept 2 dresses, one still bearing its price tag. It sold and my cut was $12. They gave the other dress to charity. I got no tax-deduction receipt because I didn’t drive across town to reclaim and donate it myself. Some weeks later, I made the trek to collect the $12 or they’d have kept that, too.

For business people whose success depends solely on good will to keep the free inventory flowing in, I was stunned by what passes for service in this retail niche.

A new shop nearby opened that pays upfront for clothes which don’t have to be seasonal or on hangers.

That’s all GREAT, but there’s a catch…

You can’t really have worn them beyond trying them on in the store.

I brought in a basket of mint-condition items, including a pair of 4-month-old Charter Club jeans (size 14), and several dressy t-shirts, tank tops, and pullovers that are NEVER out of style.

All rejected.

A Liz Claiborne all-weather coat I wore maybe 4 times. No dice.

A simple black cocktail dress, admittedly 7 years old, worn maybe 3 times on cruises. I saw the identical dress in upscale Dillard’s department store just weeks ago.

Not good enough.

They took 3 items, and one still had its price tag. I earned $14.

Lessons learned about consignment:

  • It’s not about recycling gently-worn clothes. They want your brand-new clothes.
  • For a lot of prepping and hauling, you’ll make peanuts — if you’re lucky.
  • Your sense of taste and self-esteem will take a beating.

I felt like crap after my clothes’ third rejection. If I hadn’t lost weight, I’d be wearing that stuff TODAY. But it’s apparently not nice or stylish enough for bargain-hunters who go around wearing strangers’ castoffs.

Charities, on the other hand, never scoff at your donations. They’re grateful you give them the opportunity to make a buck off your clothes.

And you benefit from a possible tax deduction, not to mention the pleasure that comes from knowing your stuff can help the less fortunate.

So, Goodwill is my next stop.

Did you know that Goodwill (and undoubtedly others, but I learned this firsthand from Goodwill) want even your ratty clothes? If they can’t be sold in Goodwill stores, they’re sold by the pound in the aftermarket. Even threadbare towels and socks can raise money.

Postscript: Weirdly, while writing this last night, I was watching Style Network and discovered Resale Royalty. It’s about a St. Louis second-hand shop that carries nothing but high-end designers (Chanel, Versace, etc.).

I felt a lot better after seeing them reject or offer relative pittances to ladies who’d paid hundreds and thousands for the beautiful clothes and shoes they brought in.

A more apt name for consignment shop owners might be Fashion’s Bottom-Feeders.

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