Business OverviewThe resale field is hot these days, with over 15,000 shops across the country and an industry association growth rate of 15 percent per year. So if you've got an eye for fashion, design and quality, and great buys make your heart soar, then a consignment clothing shop or kids' consignment shop could be the business for you. If you go the children's route, you can specialize in toys or clothing, or both. You'll take clean, well-cared-for garments or toys and display and merchandise them for their owners, splitting the profits when you make a sale. Clothing consignors sell mostly women's garments--along with accessories like costume jewelry, belts and handbags--but men's clothing is becoming increasingly popular as a resale item as well. Because you're taking the items on consignment, you don't pay anything for your inventory until it's sold, which makes this business ideal for the startup entrepreneur. You price garments and other goodies, then have the owner pick them up if they don't sell within a given period of time. The advantages to this business are that it's creative, your startup costs are small compared to most retail operations, and you get the satisfaction of helping your customers get great buys for little money. The key to a successful consignment shop is an atmosphere that's clean, fresh and fashionable, so you'll need a flair for display and merchandising. You should also have a good eye for current fashions and quality and the ability to properly price your merchandise so that shoppers get the discount they expect and you and your consignees make a profit. To complement all this, you'll need excellent people skills.
The MarketYour customers will be people interested in the type of merchandise you've got for sale--basically the same people who shop at regular retail outlets. The trick is to attract their attention and sell them on the benefits of shopping with you. Besides routine advertising methods like local radio and newspaper ads, you can host fashion shows for local women's groups and hand out fliers in front of your shop. If you're located near a business district, you can also deliver your fliers to offices in the area. And don't forget ads--perhaps with get-acquainted coupons--in your local Pennysaver-type publication.
Needed EquipmentYou'll need a shop and the display furnishings to put in it--glass cases for jewelry, clothes racks, hangers and tables or shelves. You'll also need sales tickets and tags, shopping bags and a cash register. A computer with an inkjet printer and retail operation software will be a big help but aren't necessary for starters if you can't afford them.