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Raising Cash While at Home? Selling vs. Consigning Your Luxury Goods

With uncertain times among us, many are looking at alternative ways of raising cash. With the rising popularity of online websites for consigning and selling luxury products such as handbags and fine jewelry the past few years, it is no surprise that even more people are now looking for ways to earn extra money virtually– and jewelry has become a hot way to cash in. If social distancing at home has given you some extra time to re-evaluate your overcrowded closet and rethink some of those items that you never wear or use, here are some tips on how to monetize them and also get some of your closet space back– even if it’s just to buy more stuff after all this craziness is over.

What’s The Difference Between Selling & Consigning?

While the terms are often used interchangeably, you may be surprised to learn the differences are pretty significant. From how quickly your items will be sold to how much cash you’ll actually receive, there are multiple factors to consider. As a brief overview:

Selling Your Goods: This the simplest transaction. It involves selling your goods directly and outright to an online site (or a brick and mortar store) for a specific price. The sale happens instantly. In the case of an online site, you would mail them your goods and they will send you the payment immediately.

Consigning: During a consignment, you are actually partnering with an online website (or a brick and mortar store) for the purpose of them holding your item and selling it on your behalf. Once the item sells, the consignment site takes a portion of the sales price as a fee and the remainder is paid to you. Typically, this route takes a longer period of time because you need to wait for an item to sell before you are paid. You should also take care to learn about all of the fees charged by the consignment shop so that you know exactly how much payment to expect once your item sells.

Deciding What’s Right For Your Items

To help us figure out the best course of action for cashing in luxury items, we turned to Jesse Johnson. He’s the founder and CEO of STORE 5a, one of the leading online platforms for selling your jewelry, handbags and other luxury goods. Jesse walked us through some of the things to know before committing your products to a seller.

STORE 5a CEO Jesse Johnson

What’s the biggest downside most people are aware of when consigning jewelry or luxury items?

JJ: One of the things people usually don’t realize is that although many websites and consignment stores promote the fact they only take a small percent of the selling price, oftentimes they list the item at low prices to attract more customers. So while a customer may get 75% when they consign, oftentimes they are receiving 75% of a smaller number. This low resale value is also due to the fact that consignment stores don’t refurbish items. This means that the pieces offered often look very worn and may require some work once resold. Because we buy each item outright, we are able to refurbish and restore each piece to like-new condition. These restored luxury items, typically fetch a higher value on the secondary markets. 

Lastly, many consigning customers don’t realize that they don’t receive any money until/unless the item sells. While some pieces may sell quickly, oftentimes it can take weeks if not months to sell. Couple this with the fact that shipping, photography, and assessment often take several weeks and you end up having to wait for a long time to receive your money. This long process is often considered to be the most frustrating part of consigning and can be avoided when selling directly to a dealer. In our company, we offer an assessment within 48 hours of receiving your piece and are able to mail a check as soon as the offer is accepted!

Is there any difference in the price you can sell your items for when consigning versus selling outright to a dealer?

JJ: Not usually. While many consignment stores will offer a slightly higher percentage of the resale value, oftentimes they are unable or unwilling to sell the items for the same price that a dealer can. This is due to the fact that when a dealer buys an item, they are able to carefully restore and refinish the item. This oftentimes fetches a higher secondary market value than items that are not refinished. This higher resale value is factored into the dealers offer, so while he/she may not offer 75% of resale, his offer often ends up being very competitive to the consignors. 

Are there any concerns with mailing your item away to a dealer to be appraised for sale?

JJ: Yes. Unfortunately, I have heard of several stories where customers have sent their luxury items to fake customers or businesses. I always suggest that when selling your luxury jewelry, watches or handbags, it’s best to do your research. While it may be tempting to list it yourself on an eBay or Craigslist, there is a higher likelihood that the transaction will go sideways. Although both dealers like myself and consignment stores charge a slightly higher fee then if you were to sell it yourself, the fee is usually worth it to ensure that your item is received and your money is guaranteed. It’s always good to check for reviews on Google and Yelp to see what other customers are saying. Also, make sure that when you send an item to a reseller, they provide you with a pre-paid and insured label. 

How do you know when you’re dealing with a buyer who is credible and honest?

JJ: Working with a credible dealer is always safer than trying to determine the credibility of an online buyer. Most credible businesses will have online reviews hosted on Yelp or Google. I also think there is a lot of value-added to businesses that have a physical storefront. Oftentimes, this provides some reassurance that the business is not only legit but will also be around for a long time. It also ensures that you will be working with actual people and not just interacting with a chatbot or canned response emails. 

Is there a “best time” to sell a piece of jewelry?

JJ: Seasonally there isn’t a best time to sell, however, I would say that once you realize that you are no longer wearing a piece or enjoying it any longer, it’s best to sell sooner rather than later. The reason I say that is because while a few pieces actually go up in value with age, most buyers are looking for designs that are still relevant to today’s fashion. So if that handbag you bought isn’t getting pulled out of the closet, now is as good a time as ever to either sell or trade it in for something you will enjoy. 

What kind of online research can you do to get a rough idea for what your item might be worth?

JJ: This is a really great question. There are a ton of great resources online to help you get an idea of the value of your item. It’s often a good idea to search online to see if the item you are looking to sell is listed on ours or any other resale sites. This can help you get a better idea of what yours will sell for and how much demand there is for it. With that being said, there are so many factors that must be considered and while having a rough idea is good, it’s well worth it to have an expert assess your piece. On our site, you can simply take a photo and write a brief description and we will send you a response within 48 hours letting you know what you can expect to receive for your item!