Shop Smarter

Don’t wait until spring for a closet purge—and, no, we’re not suggesting you throw away any precious finds. Today’s world of luxury consignment now has a marketplace for runway resale on a whole new level. Converting that serious stockpile of designer favorites into cash has never been easier. With the largest selection of pre-owned and authenticated luxury items, The RealReal buys and sells everything from Chanel handbags to Cartier watches. Full-service consignment includes photography, pricing, merchandising, selling and payment handling. An option for white-glove service is available to anyone with ten or more items and offers an in-home private appointment and consultation with a luxury manager.

Here, Chief Merchant Rati Levesque gives us some tips for buying and selling. To make an appointment, contact local Greenwich luxury manager Liz Logie at [email protected].

How to Consign & What to Know Before You Do:

1) Look for critical mass. It stands to reason that more eyeballs yield a faster sell-thru in the world of e-commerce. So before you choose a consignment partner, be sure to research the site traffic of the website. Look for at least a 2-million- to 3-million-member base.

2) Sell to the right customer. Look at the type of items the company you are considering consigning with is selling. It will offer insight into its customer demographic. For example, The RealReal’s focus is authenticated luxury goods. Shoppers come to the site seeking luxury goods and know the value of brands available.

3) Beware of hidden fees. Understand what percent of the sale you will receive, less hidden fees. Some consignment stores give you 40 percent, some give you 50 percent, and online you can get 60 percent to 80 percent. If you attempt to sell your goods on your own or through an auction site, it may seem like you could earn more. However, hidden credit card fees, processing costs, shipping and returns might diminish any upside.

4) Avoid return hassles. Read the site’s return policy. It’s critical to you as a consignor. If you are choosing to sell on your own, you might find it difficult to mange returns.

5) Read the fine print for payment. Understand when and how you will be paid. Some sites give you points rather than cash. Others will deduct additional fees from your payment like credit card processing fees.

How To Be a Smart Consignment Shopper 

1) Confirm authenticity. Ensure the goods have been inspected and authenticated. Whether you’re buying online or in-store, the seller should have a 100 percent authentication guarantee. If you’re inspecting the product yourself, make sure you know what to look for. Take a look at The RealReal’s authentication video series for tips.

2) Find customer service. Make sure there is a published customer service number you can call and speak to someone live about your questions and concerns. If you’re buying in store, make sure an accessible and knowledgeable sales associate can assist you.

3) Know the return policy. There’s nothing worse than buying a pricey item and discovering it doesn’t fit, but you can’t return it. Ask about the return policy upfront to make sure you are able to return size-centric items like clothing and shoes.

4) Check the price. This may seem like a no-brainer, but don’t overlook the importance of knowing the price and how it stacks up against other items of its kind. You don’t want to end up overpaying for an item, or underpaying (a cautionary sign that it may be a fake).

5) Consider the resale value. Being a savvy-shopper today means not only scouring a deal on a designer brand, but also making your money back through re-consignment. Consider the resale value upfront, which will make it easier to turn around and re-consign in six months.

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