Consigning Stuff: How We Made Extra Money Getting Rid of Extra Things

Consigning stuff isn't a fancy way to say it, but it is what we did. We sold used merchandise at a consignment store. This one resembled an indoor flea market with vendor booths and a store clerk.

Consigning Stuff while RVing

Consigning stuff wasn't part of the plan. But, it worked out very well for us. We had flea market sales experience, and experience setting up a vendor booth at fairs, craft shows, and other special events. Selling through the consignment store was somewhat similar, but had some advantages for us during this particular situation.

While we may move as often as every day, or every week, sometimes we settle in for two to three months, a whole season, or longer. We’ve always had the knack for accumulating stuff. Things that we really can’t pass up for the price, or even thing we find for free. You know how quickly space in an RV fills up.

We were up in Alaska for the summer when we decided the summer wasn’t long enough to enjoy the whole state. If we were to drive down to the lower United States, we doubted we would get back to Alaska. We found a place to park, insulated and skirted the RV, and settled in for the winter.

As we assimilated into the community, we found the secondhand and thrift stores in the area. Our vehicle doesn’t automatically turn into garage and yard sales, but we do occasionally stop at some. We seem to attract tools and small appliances that don’t work, but don’t really take much to fix. That being, our RV was getting awfully full after a month or so parked for the winter. 

We needed a way to sell off some of the excess. We couldn’t really have a yard sale, in the winter in Alaska. We needed another outlet. We realized while we were in a consignment store, looking for more bargains, that this is where we would sell our surplus.

We talked to the consignment store attendant about how consigning stuff with them worked. There was a straight monthly rent. We would provide our tables, displays, and merchandise. We would tag our merchandise with the selling price, and our assigned number.

The consignment store would sell our items, keep a reasonable watch over them, but not be responsible for shoplifting. We could use a secured showcase by the cashier for small, valuable items. The store would keep track of our sale by number, and collect and submit sales tax. If a buyer was to offer a lesser price for one of our items, they would make an effort to contact us. A week after the end of the month we could stop in and collect our money.

We started with one 8-foot space. We expanded to two by the end of the second week. We added a third a week after that.

The shop was conveniently located for us to visit frequently, and we did. We usually stopped in at least once a week, sometimes two or three time. We would add new items, rearrange and straighten merchandise in our setup, and re-price items that weren't selling at the original price. Occasionally, we would buy items from other vendors' tables, take them home, fix them, clean them, and take them back to our own tables, tagged with our number, and a new price.

Selling through the consignment store had some distinct advantages over having a rummage sale or setting up at a flea market. For one thing, we didn't need to worry about the weather. The store was open rain or shine, or in this case snow or below zero temperatures. Once up, we could leave our merchandise on display, rather than needing to tear it down and put it away at the end of the day. The other big thing was that we didn't need to be there to watch over things. Whenever the store was open, there was a clerk there to handle sales.

We liked that the store let us set the prices we put on things. Some consignment shops price things as they see fit, but we liked being in control of the sales price. We also liked that we paid a flat monthly rental fee, rather than a percentage of the amount sold.

In the spring, when it got close to time to resume our travels, we had a sale with deeply discounted prices. We liquidated our stock and sold our tables to another vendor.

Consigning stuff this way worked great. We sold a whole lot of merchandise, had some fun, and made some money doing it.


Coleen's comments: My husband, Bob Nilles, wrote this article about selling merchandise at consignment stores. Most of the items we sold were used things, however, we did have some close-out items and other new goods. This particular store did not limit what we sold to antiques, clothing, or some other specified category, as some consignment shops do.

More articles about selling stuff while RVing.

More of Bob's articles.

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