Ready to clean out your closet for cash? Consign.
Last month, I did an experiment with a three-year-old party dress from Urban Outfitters. I probably paid around $120 for the frock; its past appearances have included graduation parties, at least two New Year’s Eve parties, a dozen movie premiere after parties and a handful of fancy dinners.
Instead of going to the usual consignment giants like Beacon’s Closet and Buffalo Exchange, I went to five Brooklyn shops you may or may not have heard of.
Consigning in Brooklyn: A Brief Guide
Before revealing the fate of my little adventure, here are five important things to keep in mind when consigning anything.
Call ahead. Get a feel for what the store is taking in right now, and if they’re taking everyday items like jeans and blouses. Boerum Hill’s Eva Gentry Consignment (by appointment only), wrapped its winter season in December and stopped buying items to make room for its annual sale. Also: run the brand by the store during your phone call to save both parties some time. Mass-produced items (J. Crew, Urban Outfitters, Gap) are welcome at most stores, while the folks at Eva Gentry reserve shelf space for higher-end brand names.
Condition is key. Most shops will not launder your items for you. If you want a good shot at selling your item, clean it and make sure there are no missing buttons, holes or embarrassing stains.
“We don’t buy anything that smells like smoke or anything bad,” Chelsea from Fox & Fawn in Greenpoint tells us. “Take a second look at the items and make sure you’re not bringing anything in that’s obviously very stained, has yellowed pits or food on it.”
Know your season and your trend. Consign at the right time. A pair of shorts probably won’t get you anywhere this time of year. However, a pair of silk designer brand shorts might earn you some store credit at Eleven Consignment Boutique in Park Slope or some cash at Fox & Fawn (“We like things you can layer, and holiday shorts are great,” says Chelsea), even on the coldest of days.
Consign with an open mind. Let’s face it, you’re not going to get what you originally forked out for that Chanel purse or Zara trench coat. At Meshimar in South Slope, owner Yifat Aharoni keeps her cozy shop affordable to regulars by offering low price points to sellers.
“It’s a different style of store, it’s smaller here,” she says. “I cannot mark things up too much, I cannot buy very expensive things, I cannot sell very expensive things. People are looking for bargains and it’s reasonable here.”
Bring extra cash. You never know what you’re going to walk out with, moments after breaking away from your beloved party dress.
The Fate of the Navy Blue Party Dress
Store: Two Lovers NYC (227 5th Ave., 718-783-5683 Park Slope)
Specialty: The store focuses on curating for the customer and its intricate three-tier system, which includes quality control, laundering and steaming, and shop arrangement by color
Most expensive/least expensive item currently on display: fully sequined L.A.M.B. dress for $248, a scarf for $12
Peggy’s dress sold/rejected: sold (“I do well with Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters.”)
Price offered: $7 cash or $10.50 store credit (50 percent more than cash value)
Price store would sell item for: $28
Tip for sellers: “If you have the time, come into the shop and do a quick look at the store. Look at the brands we love, the styles we love, just to get a sense of the personality of the store,” says owner Lynette Kirchner.
Misc: Kirchner also runs Pony at 69 5th Avenue, a sister store that “caters more to the younger, edgier crowd” and carries items “for the girl who is still going out but has a job in the creative field.”
Store: Fox & Fawn (570 Manhattan Ave., 718-349-9510, Greenpoint and 222 Varet St., Bushwick)
Specialty: Unique vintage pieces that are in good condition, designer pieces. “Our price point is affordable. We want people to afford things they normally wouldn’t be able to, like an Acne dress which is a big thing in New York. Everyone likes the brand, they retail for so much money but here we have one on the rack for $64,” says Chelsea from the Greenpoint location.
Most expensive/least expensive item currently on display: Cacharel coat for $74.95, a ring for $4.95
Peggy’s dress sold/rejected: sold (“This is a cute dress, I like Lucca Couture and it’s in really good condition.”)
Price offered: $6.29 cash or $9.88 store credit (35 percent of Fox & Fawn’s retail value in cash or 55 percent in store credit that never expires)
Price store would sell item for: $17.95
Tip for sellers: “No one’s going to buy a stained or ripped item,” according to Chelsea.
Misc: While there is a consigning limit of four large bags per person, Fox & Fawn is always buying, especially around the first of the month when folks have to pay rent and are squeezing every penny.
Store: Eleven Consignment Boutique (70 5th Ave., 718-399-7767, Park Slope)
Specialty: Chanel and Hermes. The store carries a large collection of handbags, gowns and caters to a lot of private customers.
Most expensive/least expensive item currently on display: a Hermes Birkin bag for $15,000, costume jewelry for $25
Peggy’s dress sold/rejected: sold (“It’s trendy and cute.”)
Price offered: $50 store credit (cash is strictly for high end items like Chanel and Hermes)
Price store would sell item for: $100
Tip for sellers: “If it starts with a story, hold onto the item.”
Misc: A customer once came in with $11,000 in a fanny pack to buy a Hermes Birkin bag
Store: Eva Gentry Consignment (371 Atlantic Ave., 718-522-3522, Boerum Hill)
Specialty: high-end designer clothing
Most expensive/least expensive item currently on display: Marni coat for $1700, tank top for $25
Peggy’s dress sold/rejected: rejected (“We wouldn’t take this dress because of the brand. We do more contemporary designer clothing. It’s very beautiful though,” says Dana Boisson of the store)
Tip for sellers: “Things that are sellable are things that are in really good condition, that are clean, free of holes. That’s what we look for.”
Misc: “One time one of our consigners came to check out and when we started ringing her up we noticed two out of the three items she picked up were items she consigned here the previous month.”
Store: Meshimar (433 7th Ave., 718-499-5731, South Slope)
Specialty: in addition to women’s clothing, the South Slope shop also carries children’s clothes, menswear, accessories and furniture
Most expensive/least expensive item currently on display: boots for $85, vintage postcard for $1
Peggy’s dress sold/rejected: sold (“I always look for dresses.”)
Price offered: $7 cash
Price store would sell item for: $30
Tip for sellers: “I don’t like it when people give me too much information in trying to sell it. It interferes with the way I decide,” says owner Yifat Aharoni.
Misc: Aharoni has no background in fashion and the store has been in business for more than a decade. “It’s something I taught myself,” she says. “I think I have a good eye but I don’t dress that nice, I dress simple. But it doesn’t matter. I think I know what’s going on.”