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How to Get Paid from Consignment Stores

by Nicole Vulcan

Whether you're selling old clothing or new pieces of fine art you created yourself, one way to sell the goods is to place them on consignment in a store. It doesn't matter whether the store is the brick-and-mortar variety or makes its sales totally online -- at the end of the day, both can offer you the chance to sell your stuff with relatively little effort on your part. Since you're doing it to make money, you need to take some time to organize your goods and keep track of your payments.

Create a spreadsheet that details each item and the price you are asking for it. Also, create cells for the final sale price, the date you left the item at the consignment shop, the date you need to check back on each item, any item number assigned to the item by the consigner, the date sold and the date you received payment for the item. If you're working with more than one consignment shop, create more than one spreadsheet or separate the items into groups, with each consigner getting its own section. Having your spreadsheet available on a laptop or tablet means you'll be able to take the device with you when you go to consign the goods. As you set prices, keep in mind that the consignment shop will take a percentage of the sales price, so be sure to factor that in when you set your prices.

Sign a consignment agreement with the consignment shop. The shop itself will typically have a form that includes information about its fees, legal issues, how your materials will be displayed, how long the items can remain in the shop, when the shop will discount items and how often you'll get paid. It will also include the method of payment --such as an online payment, cash, paper check or something else -- and how the shop handles thefts and damages. If the shop owner does not have this type of agreement in place, talk to your attorney about creating one. Sign the agreement and have the consigner do the same. Make sure you and the consigner each have a copy of the agreement.

Check in with the consigner within the specified amount of time to find out what's sold. Get out your spreadsheet to fill in details about the final sales price, the date sold and the amount owed to you. If the consigner doesn't have a time frame specified in the agreement, check in on a regular basis, such as every month or every two months.

Send a reminder invoice to the consigner if you haven't received your payment within the specified time frame. This serves as a record that you tried to collect payment should you have to take the issue further. Let the consigner know you expect immediate payment, or give her a date by which you expect payment. Provide your contact information on the invoice, as well as a reminder of the method of payment agreed upon in your contract.

Items you will need
  • Computer
  • Spreadsheet program

Tip

  • Contact your lawyer or file a claim in small claims court if you still haven't received payment from your items after a long period of time and you haven't heard back from the consignment shop. While most business owners are reputable and will work hard to maintain a good reputation, not all are on the up-and-up. Hopefully, you did some research on the consigner ahead of time, reading customer reviews or checking for reports with the Better Business Bureau so you don't have to deal with people who don't pay.

Warning

  • Read the consignment agreement very carefully before you sign it so you are familiar with the store's policies. For example, different retailers have different policies on items that are stolen and how long they'll wait before discounting items. You don't want any surprises when you're counting on a certain amount of cash.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images