If you’ve been planning on downsizing your wardrobe, you might have been advised to take your unwanted clothing over to a consignment store. A consignment store is a sort of resale shop which displays different goods at a fraction of the original sale price. People can bring in their items and get a percentage of the resale amount after their merchandise gets sold.
You can find a wide variety of items in consignment shops—clothing, furniture, books, art, and home goods; you name it. However, the top category is apparel, with a 49% share in the resale market.
According to research, many consumers who wish to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle struggle to find sustainable shopping options. However, fast fashion retail stores have shown a steady decline in sales recently due to the rapid growth of consignment stores. This is because consumers—millennials, in particular—are constantly on the lookout for sustainable ways to shop.
Where did the term come from?
The word “consignment” comes from “consign,” whose meaning has evolved over the years. Broadly speaking, it means handing something over to another person to care for. Consign is said to have been derived from the Latin word consignare or the French word consigner.
In a consignment store, a person hands over their items to a third-party retailer to sell them on their behalf. While each store has its own procedures, it will typically hold the item for a certain number of days and give the owner a share of the sale. The clothing items need to be in good shape, and others might even require them to be in a particular style or in fashion.
History of consignment stores
Before consignment stores, we had thrift shops, and before thrift shops, there used to be push cart markets. Thrifting used to carry a stigma in the U.S., but things are slowly changing for the better. The stigma was based on ethnic and socio-economic prejudice, since the industrial revolution made the increased accessibility of clothes feel more disposable by consumers.
Individuals who bought secondhand clothing used to be looked down upon. Over the years, religious groups and social activists have helped reshape the narrative to encourage people to donate clothes and buy secondhand apparel.
Consignment stores only started making an appearance in the 1950s, catering to consumers from higher socio-economic backgrounds who liked to buy luxury goods at lower prices. Today, there are over 25,000 stores for resale in the U.S.
Thrift stores vs. consignment stores
While consignment stores also deal with secondhand items, they’re not the same as thrift stores. Thrift stores are based on donations, while consignment shops pay the original owner for any sold items.
The consignor also retains ownership of their goods. The consignee (i.e., the consignment store) is only there to offer a platform for consignors to sell their items.
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