Consignment Dos, Don’ts, and Must Knows for Creative Business Owners
Selling at consignment shops can be pretty scary for first timers. Horror stories of how inventory disappeared or how monthly fees went down the drain and nothing sold circulate through many social circles.
I have good experiences consigning, and I’d like to help you decide if consigning is for you, and how you can avoid mistakes and make the most of your experience.
When looking for a consignment shop the first thing you should do is a background check. How long has this shop been around? How long the shop has been running will tell you a lot about it’s success. Shops that have been open for several years are usually still open for a very good reason.
Try to meet the people who are behind the shop. I enjoy meeting these people and finding out how they feel about the economy and what their future plans for the shop are.
If possible get in contact with some of the consignors and ask what their experiences have been with the particular shop of interest.
Next you need to determine if the shop is right for you. What kind of products are in this shop, do yours fit the theme?
How about the location? Does it get plenty of traffic? Ideally there would be plenty of shoppers in the area, with tourists coming in. In my case, I sell in Downtown Franklin TN where lots of people from all over the states come for the festivities and music. It’s a great place for artists to sell!
What are the costs? Do those costs fit into your budget? (Remember sometimes it is necessary to experiment and find out how well you are able to sell before making a decision.)
Roughly 30% plus $15 a month is pretty typical for consignment shops. You should remember that these shops are putting a lot of money into marketing and displays, have a high overhead cost, and need to make a profit as well.
Doing all of your own selling can be the best way in many circumstances, but remember how much it cost to advertise! I have found that I spend no more in consignment fees than I do on my own advertising, and I do virtually no promoting or advertising on anything I put into consignment shops.
For me, I have found that a balance between consignment and my Etsy shop is perfect, but it can be very different for different individuals.
Some DOs DONT’S.
DON’T just put your goods into any shop. Brand new shops that are looking for inventory are often where the worst things happen. In fact, most horror stories come from people who tried selling in shops that had been open only a few months and had no credibility.
It’s only safe if you know and TRUST the shop owner. Many shops like this can get their start by investing in the products and paying for them beforehand, or maybe they know enough people who trust them and are willing to give it a shot.
DON’T go for shops that will accept anything. The best ones are juried! If you have to come up with a new product line because your current one is already taken, go for it! Shop owners know that their sellers will be more successful if they are not competing with each other. This means they care about their sellers and the success of both them and their business.
DO look for shops that sell your genre. This means if you sell handmade crocheted bookmarks, a shop that consigns mostly vintage is probably not best. Find shops that best suit your type of product. (In fact, the shop I sell at sells ONLY handmade).
DO look for shops that have beautiful and creative setups. I hate it when shops designate their sellers with certain spaces or “booths”. One sellers product stays at the front of the store all the time, and another’s stay at the back of the store.
Good shops will put things where they think they will best be noticed, rather than categorizing them by seller. This also allows the seller to put virtually as many products as they want into the shop, and also have more than one product line without having to sell them side by side.