The short answer: High quality clothing at a low price, unparalleled variety, and a healthier community and planet.
Used clothing has already been laundered, so you know what you're getting. Pre-washing also removes excess dyes and chemicals that could be absorbed into skin. On this count, the older the clothing, the safer it is.
Why sell your clothes?
Selling your children's clothing can earn you a few bucks. But more importantly, selling helps create a neighborhood marketplace for used clothing. It gives families on a budget a reliable alternative to buying disposable (Target, Old Navy), a habit that has a massively destructive impact on the environment.
While many clothing items would otherwise be handed-down or recycled in some fashion, consignment extends the life on items, broadens the market for used clothing, and makes reuse more effective and efficient.
No matter how "green" or organic you try to make your purchases, no new item will match the environment benefits of buying used. Nothing even comes close. From an environmental perspective, the only thing better than buying used is buying nothing at all. (Organic cotton, for example, requires extensive water and land usage, electricity, production and shipping costs.)
Shopping at a locally owned, independent store also minimizes environmental impact, thanks to minimal-to-nonexistent transportation costs. Furthermore, your money stays in Brooklyn. Part of it goes directly to consignors (most of whom are your neighbors), and the other portion goes to keep the shop running.
How do you price things?
Clothing averages about 65-75% off of retail, but may be more or less based on condition and demand. The discount on gear and toys varies a great deal, but the markdown tends to be less than it is on clothes.
I want to sell my things. How does it work?
Clean all items, weed out anything damaged or stained, then bring them in any time during store hours. No appointment is necessary, though you'll want to call ahead if you have any large items. For details on payment and items we accept, see Sell Your Stuff.
Can I make more money by selling on eBay?
Yes, definitely. And we encourage anyone with the time, energy, and computer skills to do so. You will, however, need to take high-quality photos of your items and write accurate, detailed descriptions utilizing key words, and take care of all of the shipping and handling yourself one item or outfit at a time (economic advantages decrease when auctioning large lots). EBay and its partner, Paypal, take fees from auctions, though those fees are smaller than ours. We find that most gently used (but nearly new) clothing goes for slightly higher prices in our store than it does on eBay, though not high enough to set offset our commission. Clothing items that are new with tags generally do better on eBay.
Alternately, you may be able to sell your clothing as a lot on Craigslist or a local parents email list; however, the amount you make from doing so in most cases is about what you'd make here.
Can I get my things back if they don’t sell?
Of course! Just make sure to call 48 hours before you come by, and you must come get your things before your expiration date. (The consignment period is 60 days, with one-week cushion for pickups.)
How do I find out when things sell?
You can call or email anytime to check on the status of your account. We do not contact you to let you know when things sell: the onus is on the consignor to get in touch with us. We have over 700 consignors and sell so many small items every day that if we assumed the responsibility of contacting each person, our brains would explode!
Will you call me when my article(s) are about to expire?
No, consignors are responsible for keeping track of their own expiration date(s).
What about bedbugs?
Monk's Trunk heat-treats all items we receive from consignors using a PackTite, a steam cleaner and/or a dryer. We do not accept furniture, bedding, or plush items that can't be laundered and dried.
Why consignment? Why not just buy clothes outright?
The main reason shops prefer consignment to resale (buying outright) is cash flow. Buying up front requires a business to keep more in the bank. Consignment is also generally seen as less risky: if something doesn't sell, it's not a major financial loss.
Still, my original plan for Monk's Trunk was to do resale. I figured it was easier for customers and easier for book-keeping. The reason I ultimately switched, though, was more of a personal and philosophical matter. When buying outright, a business owner's goal is to pay as little for inventory as she can. This isn't a criticism; it's good business and necessary for survival. But this dynamic pits the owner against her seller-customers. With consignment, both the owner and consignor want the consignors' items to sell. They're both on the "same side." It's more of a coop model than a typical store.
Monk's Trunk does offer a buy outright option, though, for people who strongly prefer that option. Here, we follow the standard of paying 25% of the estimated sales price when buying outright.
"You earn 50% to 75% of the price of items that sell, whereas the typical retail store only makes 35% to 50%. You must be making a killing!"
Um, not quite. The reason consignment/resale shops pay a relatively low percentage for clothing stems from the high labor costs demanded. Each individual item in a used clothing shop needs to be carefully inspected and processed before going on the rack. For every item we take in, we look at several that we can't accept. In contrast, retailers buy bulk quantities; and since they're dealing with new merchandise, they don't need to inspect things in the same way.
Second, we're selling substantially discounted merchandise. Even with the higher margin, we need to sell a much higher volume than standard retail in order to make money.