Everything I know about buying and selling clothes on consignment I owe to my friend Kathleen, a remarkably well-dressed woman. She shops exclusively in consignment stores, but only those that are located in upscale areas. And boy, can she dress. She’s a consignment seller, too. In fact, I’ve known Kathleen to buy an outfit from one of her favorite consignment stores for a special occasion, then turn around and sell it back into consignment the next day. See what I mean? She’s very clever.

The consignment process is simple. The store sets its criteria for accepting merchandise, and sets the price—usually 50 percent of the new retail price. Expect a consignment shop to have very high standards for what they will accept: Must be a current style, must be brought in clean and must have no visible wear, holes or stains.

If you are a seller and your items meet the store’s criteria, your items will be put on the sales floor and displayed for 30 to 60 days. Once sold, you will receive 30 to 50 percent of the purchase price depending on that store’s policy.

Recently I have fallen in love with an online consignment store, ThredUp.com, that specializes in children’s clothing. I’ve heard a lot about this site and recently stopped by for a visit. Of course I had my 3-year old grandson, Eli, in mind. I enjoy nice things but hate paying the high prices that come with them. That’s why the art of consignment is right up my alley.

I was pretty much blown away as I searched through boys’ size 4T. I’m talking designer brands in the latest styles with everything priced more like a sale at Target, not full retail at Nordstrom.

This adorable Mickey Mouse jacket ($6.99) and Izod sweater ($9.99) caught my eye.

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The pictures and descriptions were so clear and thorough, I had no doubt as to the colors, quality and condition. I grabbed them up fast, because I knew they would be perfect. My first order came to $16.99 total, as I was eligible for free shipping on top of these rockbottom prices. The items arrived in just 3 days, beautifully wrapped and just in time for “Yellow Day” at preschool. And that jacket—what a find! It is 100% cotton with a very soft, lightly quilted lining. I could not be happier.

ThredUp customers can also sell items on consignment to earn store credit to buy more clothes, or for cash via PayPal. ThredUp sent me big bag with my order, inviting me to fill it up with items that meet their high standards and return it following the printed instructions. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

You know that I never recommend products and services that I do not use myself and believe in. You can add ThredUp to our EC list of reliable resources.

When I let the folks at ThredUp know that I would be writing about my experience with Eli’s new clothes and asking for permission to reprint the photos, they offered my EC readers an introductory deal: Now through May 31, 2013, use the promo code ECTU10 to get $10 off. (This coupon cannot be combined with other offers and does not apply to shipping.) What a lovely gesture, ThredUp  … thanks!

As soon as I put a period on this sentence, I’m calling Kathleen to tell her that ThredUp.com just opened its new Women’s Shop.

Question: Are you more likely to shop consignment at a walk-in store, online or both? Have any experiences you’d like to share?

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