Since we moved into a new rental house in March, we set aside a small budget for new furniture. We wanted a new dining table, new bed for the master bedroom, and a new recliner for the great room. As for the old, we decided to check out the market at consignment stores.
I’d never sold anything with a consignment store before, and I wasn’t sure how the process worked. I visited three Houston area consignment stores specializing in furniture, and I was surprised by what I learned.
Pro: Immediate Move-Out
The most attractive aspect of selling our furniture at a consignment store was the ability to get the items out of our house immediately. Once you buy new furniture, you don’t want the old stuff hanging about.
One store had a waiting list for beds, but other than that each store was willing to accept delivery immediately. This was a huge bonus, considering our new furniture was already ordered.
Con: No Pick-Up
None of the consignment stores we visited was willing to pick up our furniture at our house. They all required the customer to deliver items to the store, which makes sense financially in this time of $4/gallon gas. However, this definitely made it more difficult on us.
A couple pieces of furniture were extremely heavy – too heavy for me to lift by myself. In order to get it to the shop, we would have to either hire someone or talk a friend into helping. Plus, the bed pieces were too large for the bed of my truck.
Pro: Expert Evaluation
The employees and owners of consignment shops see lots of furniture, and therefore are far better equipped than me to assign a value to each piece. I was worried about holding a yard sale or selling over the Internet because I had no idea what any of my furniture was worth.
It is in the best interests of the consignment store to assign a fair and reasonable price to any piece they put in their store. Their income is based on the sale price of the piece, after all, so they aren’t going to try to rip off their partners in the sale.
Con: Time Constraints
At each of the consignment stores I visited, the rules were clear: If the piece didn’t sell in a particular period of time (e.g. two months), I would forfeit all rights to the furniture and the shop would dispose of it however they chose. I wasn’t fond of this policy.
It makes sense from the consignment store’s position. They need to rotate inventory, and they need to attract new buyers. If they have the same headboard sitting on the floor for six months, they lose potential revenue. However, I’m a low-risk kind of guy, and this was outside my comfort zone.
I didn’t end up consigning any of my furniture this time around. I was uncomfortable with the terms, and I realized I could get more for each piece by selling it myself. Others might have better luck with consignment stores, of course, but I think it is important to evaluate the quality of each piece, the importance of selling it quickly, and the terms at the specific shop.