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The Dirty Truth About Consigning Clothing

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With spring cleaning your closet, comes consignment. When I spring clean, I have piles when decluttering (and if you don’t, you need to!): a pile for donations, a pile for my brother’s girls, a pile for the dry cleaner, and a pile for consignment. Consigning is a great idea for clothing, shoes, purses, and even jewelry that you’ve kept in great condition, but no longer use. But you want to know the dirty truth about consigning? It takes work. A lot of work.

You have to sort through and declutter your items, take time to haul them to consignment after consignment store, and then you only get back a fourth of what you paid for them. The rest, you have to donate, or figure out a plan B for! Oh, and did I mention your clothing has to be “in season” for it to even be consigned?

In contrast, holding onto things because you paid X amount for them, or don’t make the time to consign, can be stifling. Once you do it, though, it’s like ripping off a BAND-AID, and you might never go back when you realize the benefits and get a good system in place.

I have a client who is a “hoarder” of nice things. Let’s just say that her nickname, that I loved using, (she always just laughed!) was “high-end hoarder.” She was afraid to lose money by consigning, so instead kept replaying the same tape in her head about each item: how much she paid, what great condition it was in, how much she used to love using it, and how it was too much work to consign.

Over time, her closet and bedroom got smaller and smaller, until it became too much for her to deal with on her own. She had to get to the realization (and be ok with it) that consigning would bring her tremendous benefits, even if she would “only” get back about a fourth of what she paid for each item.

Whether you’ve collected Louis Vuittons or have too much from J. Crew’s last season, consigning will give you back money for items you are not using, and you will be free with more space and less clutter. Oh, and did I mention how much better you will feel without all the clutter around you? You just need to make sure you are ok with knowing how much you will get in return for selling the item, and the amount of work it took to get it there.

If you know what is in store for you when consigning, just do it. Here’s what you can do now. Take a look at these consignment shops (national and local, in the Washington, DC metro area), and plan — yes, plan and make an appointment — your first trip! What might you bring? What items are clearly consignment and not for donation?

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