All About Consignment Shops

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“Who shops consignment these days,” you ask?  Almost everyone! With the market value expected to reach $77 billion by 2027, consignment shopping is one of the fastest-growing businesses in the world. In fact, if you were to Google "consignment shop near me," you would no doubt find a list of stores in your neighborhood with products ranging from clothing, home décor, accessories, furniture, and more. 

There are a lot of reasons for consignment shops' growing popularity. Not only is the shopping less expensive, but you also never know what rare and unique items you may come across. If you are looking for a fair deal and don’t need “fresh from factory" products, perusing your local consignment shop may be the perfect choice for you.

But what exactly is a consignment shop? Is there a difference between consignment and thrift stores? How does a consignment business work?  

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the phenomenon of consignment shopping.

What is a Consignment Shop?

Image of front of Around the Block consignment shop serving greater Toronto area

A consignment shop is essentially a resale business that offers products for a fraction of the cost of the original price. In this business model, the product owner can bring an item to the consignment shop and receive payment once it is sold. However, each consignment shop usually has structured rules and regulations regarding its specific operations, such as what products the store will accept and the specific terms it offers to consignors.

History of Consignment Shops

Much like the history of thrift stores, the origins of the consignment shop can be traced back to the second-hand stores of the early twentieth century. These stores were often small and family-run and served as a way for people to sell their unwanted belongings.

However, the history of consignment shops as we know them today didn't really take off until the 1930s, when a DIY movement and an increased interest in finding creative ways to recycle and reuse goods emerged. By the 1950s, consignment stores had become more common in towns and communities, often catering to higher socio-economic clientele, who enjoyed purchasing luxury garments at discounted prices.

The first modern consignment shop as we know it today is believed to have opened in San Francisco in 1974, and the idea quickly spread to other major cities across the U.S. and Canada.

More than 1,400 consignment shops are in operation across Canada and a whopping 25,000 in the United States. These stores help people save money on quality products and reduce potential waste.

Consignment Stores vs. Thrift Stores?

Consignment stores and thrift stores are often confused. But there are some critical distinctions between them.

  • Consignment stores typically sell higher-end used items, such as furniture, clothing, and home decor. When thrift shopping, you’ll find various used goods, clothes, books, and small appliances in one location.
  • Consignment stores generally have a more selective inventory than thrift stores and typically charge slightly higher prices. However, both stores offer great bargains for shoppers willing to hunt for a deal. 

So whether you're looking for quality second-hand products like a quirky book, unique art, or stylish sofa, chances are you'll be able to find what you're looking for at a consignment store.

How does a consignment shop work?

Generally speaking, when you sell, furniture, accessories, or appliances via consignment, you should take your smaller items to the store for evaluation or send pictures of more oversized products.

The consignment shop owner will determine whether to accept your item into their catalogue of products for resale. If your items are chosen, you enter into a consignor agreement with the shop. Usually, the store decides how to merchandise, market, and price your item. Upon selling it, a percentage of the sale amount will be credited to your name, and you may collect the amount once a month from the consignment shop.

At Around the Block, we accept and consign only high-quality pieces we know will sell. For a complete list of products we accept, visit our Consignment page. For 14 years, we've proudly offered quality resale services and a distinctive selection of home decor and furnishings in the greater Toronto area. Whether you are downsizing, renovating, redecorating, or managing an estate, consider Around the Block. We will guarantee discretion and confidentiality if you consign with us. You can expect the highest level of customer service in the industry and 60% of the sale price of your items.

Consignment Shop FAQs

What does it mean to buy on consignment?

Consignment means that you are selling your items to a store on commission. The store will then sell the products for you and receive a percentage of the sale.

Is consignment the same as thrifting?

No, consignment and thrifting are not the same things. In thrift stores, donated items stay in stock until they are sold.  The person who donated does not receive compensation for the goods. In consignment, the product owner consigns goods to the shop for a specific time and receives a portion of the proceeds once the item is sold.

What are the benefits of consigning?

There are many benefits of consigning for sellers and shoppers. Some of these benefits include:

  • Making money from the sale of unwanted items
  • Decluttering your home
  • Offering a more sustainable and eco-friendly way to shop
  • Finding unique things for your private space

What items sell best on consignment?

Some of the best-selling items in consignment shops are clothing, furniture, and home decor.

What is a typical consignment split?

A typical consignment split is 60/40, meaning that the store will keep 60% of the sale, and you will receive 40%. However, this can vary from store to store.

What is the difference between a sale and a consignment?

The main difference between sale and consignment is that with a sale, you are selling the item outright to the store, whereas with consignment, you are selling the item on commission.

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