7 Consignment Store Do's and Don'ts

Couple shopping in consignment store

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Consignment stores sell merchandise for owners who don't want the hassle of selling the goods on their own. Some specialize in antique, vintage, or gently used furniture and home accents. Other consignment shops sell only clothing and fashion accessories. No matter which type you shop, learn these seven consignment store do's and don'ts before you go:

1. Do ask about sale and markdown policies. Consignment stores tend to lower prices based on the length of time the items have been on the sales floor. Some mark the tags when the prices go down. Others put the arrival dates on the tags so shoppers can calculate the discounts as they browse. 

2. Don't get upset if a consignment store owner or employee won't haggle beyond the stated markdown schedule. Every store has its own policy, and it may depend on the consignment terms they set with the owners of the goods.

That said, it's okay to ask politely. They may agree to a lower price if you point out a falling hem on a dress or a loose drawer glide on a dresser. Or, if they know the piece you want is scheduled for markdown the next morning, they might be willing to sell it to you at the lower price this afternoon.

3. Do ask what forms of payment they take. Many consignment stores accept credit and debit cards (but not all) and they're always happy with cash. Some stores take checks, but know before you go. Some consignment stores even offer layaway, which can be a good option if the interest doesn't eat up all of your savings.

4. Do ask about delivery options before you hand over the cash for a large piece of furniture. Some consignment stores may be willing to deliver your purchase for an additional fee. Some that don't deliver may have a list of independent delivery persons you can hire. At other consignment stores, loading your purchase and getting it home is entirely up to you. 

5. Do inspect each piece carefully before you buy it. Make sure it's in good condition and fits your needs and your home. Consignment stores rarely allow returns and exchanges, which makes sense. By the time you get around to returning something, the store may have already paid the original owner.

6. Don't write off a consignment store because you didn't find anything on your first visit. The merchandise changes frequently and even the consignment store owners don't know what they're likely to have tomorrow.

7. Do get friendly with the employee or owners of the consignment stores you like to visit. Let them know what you're looking for. If they like you and know what you want, they'll let you know if and when someone brings it in for consignment.