Fact: Store space is finite. That’s a daunting limitation when running a Portland women’s resale shop. The space limitation is always a challenge. So many consignors, so many great pieces of clothing, but only a finite space in which to feature it. As much as we want to, we can’t take every piece that is presented to us for resale.
The balance we hope to achieve is to present to our shoppers a range of fun, quality resale clothing, in a wide range of price points, sizes, styles, brands and categories
Pair that with the difficult reality we face: having no control over what comes in our door for consignment! Curating the incoming women’s resale clothing is our best strategy for making sure we accomplish our commitment to that balance.
Some items we can reject out of hand – they’re damaged in some way, or too worn, or the quality is just too poor. We might pass on others because we have too many similar items, or perhaps that category is just not moving. Another reason we pass is the weather or season. Because we want to be successful for you, our consignor, we might advise you to bring your items back at a different time when they could sell better, or fetch a better price. To an outsider our choices might sometimes seem capricious, but I can assure you that they anything but. Our selection process may be subjective (there’s no avoiding that) but our decisions are always based on a desire to do well for you, and to manage the balance of our inventory!
Why does quality matter? To remind ourselves, we have a sign in the back room that just says “We’re a boutique, dammit!” At Here We Go Again, we view ourselves as more of a boutique than a resale store and that’s the experience we want to offer. What our sign means, is that we believe just because someone is shopping at a Portland resale shop, they don’t deserve a lesser experience than if they shopped at a higher end boutique. Here We Go Again has always specialized in excellent customer service, a clean and bright environment, friendly people, and a balanced inventory (not to mention fun!).
Occasionally a consignor will ask us to just “try” to sell something we’ve declined. Unfortunately, that’s simply not possible due to the finite nature of our rack space. Accepting an item for consignment is not cost-free for us, although there is often a misperception that it costs us nothing to “just try.” Every resale clothing item we accept for consignment is at the expense of something else. Having our racks too full is a big no-go for us and a turn-off for shoppers. It’s no fun to have to pry things apart on the rack to see them.
Another big reason we might pass on incoming consignments is that the price we can ask for them is too low. It’s not that we don’t want to feature items for $5.00. But remember, each item on our racks takes up roughly equal space. By filling our racks with items that are less than, we rob the rack space for better quality resale merchandise. What’s a Portland resale shop to do? Furthermore, we’ve done the analysis of what it takes and costs us to process an item. There are multiple steps to our processing, and each one takes a paid person to complete it. Allow me to offer a brief step-by-step view of our back room!
- First review: we take the clothing from our fabulous consignor at the front door and carry it to our back room for review -it has very bright lighting!
- We hang up each garment, and switch to our hangers if the items were brought in on hangers. (If so, thank you! It saves us and you a lot of time!)
- The first inspection is for style, brand and seasonal appropriateness. Garments that make the first cut are then inspected more carefully.
- Next, each garment that passed the first inspection is inspected front and back, inside if necessary. Notably, we check collars & cuffs, buttons and zippers, hems, linings and pockets, for excessive wear or damage. Handbags are checked inside and out, and all pockets checked for left-behind objects. Shoes are examined for both insole and outsole soil, heels for wear, and driving soil on the right heel.
- All the garments that did not make our cut are carried back to the front of the store to return to the consignor.
- The last step in the first part of this process is to fill out paperwork, providing the consignor with an accounting of how many items were accepted and when to check back if she wants to claim any merchandise that is not sold.
- That’s the beginning – paperwork is carefully secured to the consignment and that bundle goes into our “first in, first out” queue for pricing.
- Next step? Our Brand Expert re-inspects each item in the consignment, then enters each item into our computer, assigning a price. Higher end, designer pieces, or jewelry require some research. Knowing style names, and searching for comparable items for sale elsewhere allows us to right-price each piece consigned to us. Occasionally on collectible or rare items, the search process might take a half hour or more!
- The Brand Expert completes each group by checking off that the right quantity of items are accounted for, and that the account number is correct. Then, she sends an email inventory list of the items to the consignor for her records.
- Priced items go back to the front of the store, where a staffer prints the price tags and tags each item.
- Sometimes additional steps are needed. If clothing is quite wrinkled, because it came in folded in bags instead of on hangers, we need to steam it. If anything looks lint-y we will take our lint roller to it. Remember – We’re a boutique, dammit! So, we want everything to look its best on our racks, making it more appealing to shoppers. Leather items that look dry will get a conditioner treatment to freshen them up.
- Lastly, the tagged and prepped items are put out on the rack for sale!
As you can see, it’s a fairly labor-intensive business! Depending on the item, our processing costs can be anywhere from $4 to $20, depending on how long we spend on research or extra preparation. That alone precludes us from accepting a lot of low-price items because we can’t recoup the processing, even if everything sells, which sadly, is not always true. A primary reason we’re cautious about taking a lot of women’s consignment clothing items is that we want to have confidence that MOST, if not all the garments will sell. If we need to collect unsold items to return to a consignor, that also adds to our labor costs. And you thought this was easy, right?
Please don’t interpret this as complaining, we love what we do! We especially love reviewing incoming consignments, it’s like Christmas every day to see the treasures our consignors bring us. Luckily, over the years, we’ve established and codified systems that help us streamline and achieve some efficiencies in our processing. We’d be buried, otherwise! And of course, there are many Portland resale shops, each with their own vibe and flavor. If we're not the right place for your items, they won't sell. Here are a dozen more to check out.
Our desire in selecting what goes on our racks is to maintain the balance. We seek to feature a women’s resale clothing collection that reflects the diversity of our shoppers – a variety of sizes, styles, price points, colors and types of items. Achieving balance is difficult! Staying committed to that balance doesn’t ever mean that we lower our standards, however. It does mean that we need to reject some things for one or many of the criteria outlined above. It’s a delicate balance for us, too!