Guide to Consignment and Resale Store ShoppingWhether you’re in need of cash or shopping for bargains, consignment and resale shopping offer plenty of opportunities for both. “What is that?,” you ask? Both offer similar premises, where anyone can bring in their gently used clothing for cash. The difference is, with consignment you only get paid when your item sells. And with resale, they buy your clothing outright. Generally, consignment tends to give you a higher percentage (usually 50%), but it’s contingent that your item sells… and you have to wait for cash. With resale, in my experience with nationwide franchises like Plato’s Closet and Buffalo Exchange, they buy your clothes for 25-35% of what they plan to sell it for. For buyers, you can find deals at either – I prefer stores who are a little picky with what they bring in. As a seller, whether you want to consign your items or straight sell them for cash is really personal preference – sometimes neither is the better option (more on that below)! This guide will offer tips for both buyers and sellers, and if you have anything to add feel free to chime in on the comments section below.

Consignment and Resale for Sellers

First off, you have to decide whether you want to consign or sell your clothes outright, and where to do it. Plato’s Closet is probably the most popular, but there are plenty of local boutiques around the nation that offer a similar premise. Remember that they’re going to buy your clothes for about 25-35% of what they plan to sell it for. Thus if you’re ready to part with your $200 True Religion jeans, you might want to think again. They sell them for about $40-50 which means jeans you spent $200 for are likely only going to fetch you $15. Which brings us to tip #1

1. With designer clothing, eBay’s your best bet for maximum resale value. You could also try Craigslist, local buy/sell Facebook groups, local buy/sell apps like Close5 or OfferUp (whatever’s popular in your area), etc. If you don’t have the time…

2. Straight resale is best if you want to save time, I prefer the store that’s going to make most of what I bring in. I find that Plato’s Closet accepts more than Buffalo Exchange. Your local boutiques may vary. You can usually get a good idea by just shopping there beforehand and getting an idea of what they buy. Speaking of which…

3. Read the website. Sometimes Facebook and Twitter too. They’ll tell you what they accept, what’s trending, etc. Remember that consignment and resale stores are far less likely to buy shorts in the winter and jackets in the summer.

4. Consignment is best if you want to maximize your return, you’re confident your items will sell and you don’t mind waiting. While resale stores like Plato’s Closet and Buffalo Exchange don’t publish the buy rate % (it’s generally known to be 25-35%), consignment stores must publish their rate as you’ll be entering a consignment contract with them. Generally it’s 50% and they’ll start your price at say $50 then it gets discounted every week until it sells. Of course YMMV.

5. Find the specialists, another way to maximize your return is to find stores that specialize in selling what you want to bring in. If you have a lot of designer clothing, search for an upscale consignment or resale store. If you have a lot of maternity and newborn clothes, search for a store that specializes in just that. Sometimes you can find both, as consignment stores like Me N’ Mommy To Be specialize in upscale clothing for newborns, kids, maternity, etc.

Consignment and Resale Shopping as a Buyer

Now let’s move to the buyers end of the spectrum, and there’s not really too many secrets. It’s really either a hit or miss. But a few things you should note:

1. Buyer Beware: Watch out for the fakes. You probably won’t have anything to worry about with clothing from Forever 21, American Eagle, etc. But with high-end designer clothing, definitely buyer beware. I’ve found that consignment stores are more likely to have fakes, as they’re not actually carrying the inventory thus they’ll make money either way. I find the same with donation based stores as well. In my area, GoodWill has a upscale store called “Deja Blue” that definitely has a lot of fakes. Because think about it, why would anyone donate a $500 pair of Gucci shoes? Of course, this will vary from store-to-store. Resale stores like Plato’s and Buffalo Exchange tend to be better at spotting fakes, since they’re actually buying the inventory outright. In fact, I haven’t caught any fakes… and I’ve reviewed countless guides to spotting fakes. That doesn’t mean you can’t get duped, but do your research and at the most you’re out $30-50. To tack on to #1…

2. Find out how to spot fakes for your favorite brands. Everyone has their 2-3 high-end brands that they absolutely love and wear all the time. Chances are there’s a multitude of guides online that can help you spot fakes. Religiously study those and head out shopping, if you’d looked through 10+ items and can’t spot a single fake with the information you have, then it’s highly likely that their employees are trained very well to spot fakes.

3. Avoid ultra high-end brands. It’s estimated that 99% of Louis Vuitton’s in the world are fake. What are the chances that your local consignment or resale store has a real one? I’ve heard that some fakes are so good that they can dupe Louis Vuitton employees trained to spot otherwise. So when it comes to Louis Vuitton, Christian Louboutin, etc. I personally wouldn’t take the risk.

Related: How Christian Louboutin Became a Shoe God

4. Shop for Up-and-Coming Brands and Little Known Brands. Consignment and resale store employees often aren’t hip to what’s up-and-coming, or perhaps even a popular brand that they don’t recognize. The buyers at Nordstrom are always looking for the newest trends, and with that being said there’s a lot of up-and-coming brands there selling for $100+ that you might be able to find at your local consignment or resale store for $10.

5. Find the specialists, we’ve previously included this in the seller section but it’s very relevant for buyers as well. If you’re looking for designer clothing, shop the consignment/resale stores that specialize in just that. If you’re shopping for your baby or kids, find the store that specializes in that.

What do you guys think? Any more tips to shopping resale and consignment stores?