How to Open a Consignment Shop

Start a consignment shop with tips on market research, business plans, sourcing inventory, setting prices and commissions. Build an online presence for your local consignment or sneaker consignment store.

Published Date:

Published Date:

Published Date:

April 9, 2024

April 9, 2024

April 9, 2024

Last updated:

Last updated:

Last updated:

April 11, 2024

April 11, 2024

April 11, 2024

Successful Consignment Boutique Shop Guide
Successful Consignment Boutique Shop Guide
Successful Consignment Boutique Shop Guide

How to Start a Successful Consignment Shop: A Comprehensive Guide

The retail landscape has evolved with consignment stores as a sustainable business opportunity – but what exactly is a consignment shop? Why should you open a consignment business in today's market?

A consignment store is a business model where resellers, known as consignors, can list their new or used products for sale at the store. Essentially, the store will act as a middleman for these vendors, and in exchange the store takes a share of the selling price as a commission while providing a convenient platform for consignors to profit off their unwanted valuable items.

The appeal of starting a consignment store is the ability to tap into the growing consumer market of niche shopping. According to a report by ThredUP, the second-hand market is projected to nearly double in value by 2027, reaching $350 billion globally. Many of the largest retailers in the world are adopting more to this business model. This represents a prime opportunity for entrepreneurs to capitalize on this rapidly growing industry.

Aspiring business owners have many options to explore, in business understanding supply and demand is the key to success. Choose a product that is in high demand, and hard to find.

  1. Designer and Luxury Consignment: Caters to fashionable high-end clothing, accessories, and luxury items. This niche attracts consumers seeking prestigious brands with high-yielding profit margins.

  2. Apparel and Sneaker Consignment: Follows fashion trends like streetwear, and the sneaker culture which appeals to consumers hunting for grails or unique items to stay ahead of fashion trends.

  3. Furniture and Home Decor Consignment: The used market of high-quality furniture, home decor, and accessories attracts homeowners seeking to refresh their living spaces while saving money.

  4. Specialty Consignment: Distinguish your business by catering to niches such as art, collectibles, books, sporting equipment, musical instruments, mechanical tools, saddlery, or even games and electronics.

Regardless of the market, a consignment store will always offer a unique value proposition. These categories provide an avenue for individuals to declutter their belongings and earn extra money while offering consumers access to affordable unique items. With careful market research, planning, inventory sourcing, and the right software solution, you can establish a thriving consignment business that resonates with your community.

After gaining insight through market research, it’s time to create your business plan. Every successful consignment business is determined by the preparation dedicated to planning out the business. This document should outline your goals, targeted market, pricing model, strategies, and financial projections.

A well-crafted business plan will serve as a roadmap, guiding your consignment shop operations and keeping you on track as you launch and expand your business.

Consignment Store Market Research: Strategies and Tips

1. Consignment Store Market Research: Strategies and Tips

You have a keen eye for seeing more value in products, and you’re now interested in starting your consignment shop. Confused but excited? Allow us to guide you.

The first step is to conduct market research to understand your market demographic. To have a better understanding of your targeted demographic, conduct market research on their needs, and analyze the competitive landscape within the area. This allows you to create a business that puts your inventory in front of the people most likely to buy.

Sales at your consignment store are directly correlated to the location. To increase sales at your shop, you must strategically choose a location with high foot traffic. Although prime locations may result in extra overhead costs, it’s the primary driving factor for sales that can net you the most value for your investment.

2. How to Write a Winning Business Plan for Your Consignment Store

After gaining insight through market research, it’s time to create your business plan. Every successful consignment business is determined by the preparation dedicated to planning out the business. This plan should outline your goals, targeted market, pricing model, strategies, and financial projections.

A well-crafted business plan will serve as a roadmap, guiding your consignment shop operations and keeping you on track as you launch and expand your business.

Here are 8 simple points in starting a consignment business plan:

  1. Executive Summary: A compelling introduction that highlights key points of your consignment shop, and an overview of your business plan.

  2. Business Description: Clearly define your company’s mission, values, and objectives by identifying the market needs your consignment store will solve.

  3. Market Analysis: An analysis of your target market, the competitive landscape within the resale industry, market trends, successful competitors, and the available market share to demonstrate the demand for your business.

  4. Organization and Management: Outline your company’s organizational structure, experienced team members, consignment management, and your consignors.

  5. Products and Service: Describe the type of products your store will be offering, how you plan on selling them, and from where you will be supplying your inventory. Include research on sales trend data.

  6. Marketing and Sales Strategy: Your marketing and sales strategy should include your pricing model, commission structure, promotions, distribution channels, and customer retention plan.

  7. Funding Requests: Analysis of any funding required to start your business, how the funds will be used, and the potential return on investment from investors.

  8. Financial Projections: Conduct a financial analysis of your business costs for the first year, and your projected timeline for your breakeven point. If you have investors or plan on taking loans from financial institutions, include a section on how you plan to pay back your loans.

In addition to market research and business planning, consider the logistical aspects of running a consignment shop. Managing vendor relationships is key to ensuring efficiency. This includes:

  • Securing a suitable retail location with enough space for inventory and customer traffic.

  • Establishing reliable sources for sourcing inventory aligning with your store’s specialty.

  • Setting up a point-of-sale (POS) system integrated with a consignment portal for seamless inventory and sales tracking.

  • Developing clear policies and procedures for accepting and selling authentic items on consignment.

It's important to diversify your product range to align with your target market's preferences. For instance, in a sneaker boutique, concentrate on stocking the latest launches and consistently update your inventory with the most sought-after items. When dealing with designer merchandise, prioritize the condition of the items and offer a broad yet similar range of brands, ultimately keeping stock of your top-selling brands. To establish a lucrative consignment business that caters to the needs of your market and consignors, you will need to be patient, plan accordingly, and be fully committed.

Inventory Sourcing: Where to Find Unique Gems

3. Inventory Sourcing: Where to Find Unique Gems

You're now a professional in your niche, you’ve conducted the research required and created a business plan. Now is the time to source your inventory. To attract shoppers, you must fill up the shelves with quality merchandise – especially during the holiday season! For instance, sales can drastically multiply during December in comparison to any typical month of the year.

Ideally, you need both a buying, and consignment strategy in place before you open to ensure a steady flow of inbound products for your business. The most important lesson here is to learn how to bargain and negotiate.

Explore various sourcing channels to maximize your inventory and profit margins:

  • Explore bulk purchasing opportunities from wholesalers, or other resellers (e.g. eBay).

  • Leverage social media platforms to network with potential consignors and promote your store. For example:

    • Instagram with dedicated posts and product lists for your shop.

    • Facebook marketplace allows you to gauge market needs in your area.

    • Pinterest is considerably a high-yielding platform that is not commonly known.

    • WhatNot offers a live shopping marketplace.

  • Visit auctions, estate sales, thrift stores, vintage and flea markets for unique finds.

  • Attend conventions like ThriftCon, SneakerCon, GotSole, and other local events to source unique and coveted items.

  • Advertise to consignors on social media, and build relationships to ensure authenticity

With ConsignR’s inventory management system, you can effortlessly integrate your store-owned items with consigned items, allowing you to provide a cohesive shopping experience for customers. Everything is organized, and secure in one place.

 Software: The Backbone of Your Consignment Operations

4. Software: The Backbone of Your Consignment Operations

Consignment businesses need to have the right software to streamline their operations and apply their time toward sales. A comprehensive consignment inventory management system is a backbone for your business – enabling you to efficiently manage every aspect of your operations. From tracking inventory, and consignor relationships to facilitating sales, and staying compliant.

Without a dedicated software solution, you’ll likely find yourself drowning in time-wasting processes, struggling to keep up with inventory tracking, and even risking costly errors that could hinder customer trust. That’s why we recommend investing in the right technology for the long-term growth and scalability of your consignment venture.

Key Features to look for in Consignment Software:

  1. Consignor Management: Add new consignors, maintain detailed profiles, and track their consigned items. To simplify the process, having a user-friendly interface will allow the onboarding process of new consignors to be effortless, and maintain your existing relationships.

  2. Inventory Tracking: Gain visibility into your inventory, as well as allow you to associate each item to its respective consignor. Staying organized ensures the accuracy of your sales, and commission calculations.

  3. Integrated Point-of-Sale (POS): Seek solutions that integrate with your preferred POS system and enable online sales through a seamless e-commerce experience. For example, Shopify is an industry leader in POS systems.

  4. Adjustable Pricing and Commission Structures: Offer customizable pricing strategies and commission rates in comparison to your competitors. Market analysis will allow you to adjust pricing based on market trends, and we recommend offering incentives to your top-performing consignors.

  5. Detailed Financial Reporting and Analytics: This allows you to have valuable insights into your sales performance, inventory trends, and customer behavior through sales reporting. Data-driven decision-making will be key to optimizing your operations and sales.

  6. Scalability and Support: As your consignment shop expands, your software solution should be able to scale alongside your needs. Our service offers reliable 24/7 customer support, regular monthly updates, and the ability to integrate with your business's day-to-day needs.

By investing in a powerful consignment inventory management system like ConsignR, you’ll be equipped with the tools to efficiently manage your operations, provide exceptional customer experiences, and position your consignment store for long-term success in an increasingly competitive market.

Setting Competitive Pricing and Commission Rates for Consignment Success

5. Setting Competitive Pricing and Commission Rates for Consignment Success

Price your items competitively to attract customers while maximizing profits. Study your targeted demographics and location when setting in-store prices. Your research and judgment are crucial to avoid leaving potential profit on the table. Reference online marketplaces, and your competitors for prices to stay informed on market trends. 

In addition, monitor your sell-through rate to ensure products don’t sit in inventory for too long. Regularly evaluate, and adjust prices as needed.

Commission structure should be established fairly and competitively to encourage consignors to use your platform. Offer special commission rates to high-volume sellers who supply you with premium inventory. As you build relationships with consignors early on, consider offering incentives for their valued contributions.

General consignment fees range from 15% to 25% – whereas second-hand thrift and designer clothing boutique fees vary widely from 30% to 60% depending on the item’s value and condition.

Another profitable strategy would be to offer direct item buyouts. This provides flexibility in your inventory management, allowing you to bring items into your store-owned inventory instead of leaving them on consignment. ConsignR supports tracking the sale source, item cost, and price adjustments. This versatility is invaluable for maintaining strong profit margins.

Effective Marketing and Launch Strategies for Your Consignment Business

6. Effective Marketing and Launch Strategies for Your Consignment Business

For a new local consignment shop, extensive marketing efforts are often unnecessary. Focus instead on establishing a solid online foundation:

  • Create a professional website listing your store location, contact info, hours, and links to social media. Integrate your inventory for online browsing.

  • Claim and verify business listings on Google Maps, Yelp, and Apple Maps. Make sure your business name, description, hours, and photos are consistent.

  • Set up social media profiles on relevant platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Complete bios, use clear logos and link to your website. Share basic updates and locally relevant content.

  • Encourage customer reviews, and offer referral incentives. Word-of-mouth will be your highest-yielding form of marketing. Build relationships for potential cross-promotions, never burn bridges. 

Provide an exceptional in-store experience with an organized layout, friendly staff, and prompts to join your email list or follow social channels.

As you grow, gradually expand tactics like local ads, influencer collaborations, and community events. But start by prioritizing a strong foundational online presence to effectively reach local customers. Operations and Growth

Streamline your operations by investing in consignment software like ConsignR. Our software can manage your inventory, track your consignor relationships, handle communication, and integrate seamlessly with your point-of-sale (POS) system.

As your business grows, hire experienced managers and staff to maintain an excellent level of customer service.

Nurture strong relationships with your top-performing consignors by offering incentives, and personalized consignor fees. These relationships can guarantee a steady stream of inventory which contributes to your shop’s success.

Consistently analyze your sales data, customer feedback, competitors, and any industry trends to identify areas for improvement. Adapt your strategies as needed, such as expanding your product offering, opening additional locations, or even improving your online presence. 

By following these steps and maintaining a customer-centric mindset, you can establish an ever-growing consignment business that serves as a hub for your local community resell market.


In conclusion, starting a successful consignment business requires thorough market research, careful planning, and a commitment to providing exceptional value to both consignors and customers. By choosing the right niche, creating a solid business plan, sourcing unique inventory, and investing in the right consignment software, aspiring entrepreneurs can tap into the growing second-hand market and establish a thriving business.

To succeed in this competitive industry, consignment owners should focus on setting competitive prices and commission rates, implement marketing strategies, and continuously adapt to market trends. Nurturing strong relationships with consignors and providing excellent customer service are also essential for long-term success.

As the demand for sustainable and affordable shopping options continues to rise, the consignment industry presents a promising opportunity for entrepreneurs who are willing to put in the effort and follow a well-structured road map. By following the insights and strategies outlined in this guide, aspiring consignment shop owners can navigate the challenges of starting a business and build a successful store that generates substantial profits.

Consignment Store FAQs:
Answering Common Questions for New Owners

  1. What is a consignment store?

A consignment shop is a retail store where people can sell their used or new items in the store, and the shop will take a share of the sale price as a commission.

  1. How does a consignment shop work?

Sellers, known as consignors, can bring items to the store to be sold. The store will list, market, and sell the items. Once an item sells, the consignor will receive a portion of the sale and the store keeps a commission rate, typically between 20-60%.

  1. How much does it cost to open a consignment store?

Startup costs can vary between $10,000 to $50,000 depending on the location, inventory size, and floor plan. Larger stores can cost upwards of $100,000 to build and start operating. It’s important to take into consideration that the first and last month’s rent will be required, insurance, store-owned inventory, POS system, and most importantly consignment software to manage everything your store needs.

  1. What licenses and permits do I need to open a consignment shop?

Licenses and permits vary by location, however, the most common needs consist of a business license, a sales tax permit, and a resale certificate which will greatly help with your tax compliance and ongoing accounting. Check with your local government for up to date guidance on this. 

  1. How do I find consignors for the shop?

Actively promote via social media, advertise locally, attend community events, and offer incentives to attract qualified consignors for a steady inventory flow. Networking locally will drive traffic to your store, netting you the most return.

  1. Why do consignment shops fail?

There are only a few reasons why a consignment shop should fail, this may vary depending on poor location, insufficient startup capital, inadequate inventory, lack of marketing, and inexperienced management. To succeed, you must have a solid business plan.

  1. How do consignment shops succeed?

A successful consignment store begins with a strong business plan. You must research and acquire a prime retail location, offer competitive pricing, and excellent customer service. To focus on sales, we recommend having a sales operation software, like ConsignR, that will help with managing your inventory, offer a consignment portal, and automated emails for communicating with your consignors.

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