Checking Out

Written by Jenifer Gifford on .

Once your Public Sale hours are over, do you mentally check out? I know I do, that's why one of my lead volunteers runs the sort for me. I just can't do one more thing. My brain is fried. Regardless of my mental state, the sort still has to be completed, and it needs to be completed accurately and on time.

I have recently received a rash of emails about the sort from consignors. The biggest complaints are that it's either not done on time and people are waiting around for the sort to be completed so that they can pick up, or it's that there are mistakes with what was picked up.

Now, I know when you are dealing with people, there is always going to be human error. Everyone is tired after a long week. However, it only takes a few more minutes to double check piles to help insure accuracy. One lady emailed me and said there were 50 items in her pile that were not hers. FIFTY! There is no excuse for that. Imagine how angry you would be if 50 of your items didn't make it home, you thought they sold and were expecting to get paid for them! Mistakes happen, but it shouldn't be on that kind of scale. I can understand a misplaced item or two, but there is no reason someone should pick up 50 items that belonged to someone else.

Another email said that there were 10 items in her pile that didn't belong to her, but they were from 5 different consignors! That's inexcusable. There is no reason this should be happening at your sort. I know you're tired, but...

You have got to double check your sort. Its the difference between consignors returning to your sale an not returning. Since your inventory is dependent upon them, do your best to make sure that you are doing everything you can to ensure their unsold merchandise is returned to them.

For more information on starting a sale or how to work the sort, visit

Don't Shoot Yourself in the Foot

Written by Jenifer Gifford on .

One thing I love about Consignamania is I hear from a lot of consignors and volunteers around the country who feel like I am voice to help them be heard. This season I have heard a lot about volunteering and in particular, this one topic keeps coming up.

The topic I hear most about from consignors and volunteers is how some sales are using their sales to receive perks for their family. Now that it's vacation season, sale organizers are looking for airline miles, time shares or vacation homes in exchange for early shopping. It's bad enough when you are posting things like nail/hair service, lawn and garden service or sports tickets in exchange for volunteer passes, but vacations? Really?

Sale organizers, hear me clearly when I say that your volunteers DON'T like it when they give their time to shop early and you let someone else buy their way into the pre-sale. Sure you may get takers, but trust me when I say that these things are upsetting your current volunteer force. They use words like greedy, pathetic, and obnoxious when talking about you. Followed by, I used to volunteer, I won't anymore.

Volunteering and bartering for your sale should ONLY involve things FOR YOUR SALE, not things for you personally. After all, if your customers start perceiving you as "greedy, pathetic, and obnoxious" then guess what happens... they start thinking about starting a consignment sale and all of a sudden, you have created your own competition, one who will remember how they perceive you, and will do everything they can to create a better sale than you have.

So keep the perception of yourself as one who treats business as business and personal as personal. You're not here to compromise your business to get a few perks along the way, so stop alienating your volunteer force and start running your business like the business it is.

Know What You Are Getting Into

Written by Jenifer Gifford on .

A few weeks ago I received a call from a very nice lady whose boss thought they should start hosting consignment sales. Her boss owned a location to host the event and thought this would be a good way to make some money from the location. She was calling for some guidance on behalf of her boss. Unfortunately, he thought that you just threw up some racks and had a sale.

The conversation went something like this: "My boss says we should have a $30 fee. Does that sound about right? My boss doesn't want any volunteers, just me and another girl. Do you think that would work? I've never been to a consignment sale before, I assume you have to have some sort of check in process. I used to auction cattle, so he thought I would be the perfect person to head this up. And we are going to have our first of 12 sales this year in 6 weeks." Monthly sales, no volunteers, outrageous fees, and an auctioneer as the host... I am still trying to figure out how a cattle auctioneer is the perfect choice for the sale organizer.

Now for those of you who are seasoned at hosting a sale, I know, you are laughing and shaking your head at this point. This poor girl didn't have the first idea about seasonal consignment sales. She had never even been to a consignment sale. And I'm pretty sure that the expression on my face was an interesting one because my mother-in-law kept looking at me while I was on the phone with this poor girl and couldn't stop laughing at me!

If you are going to host a consignment sale, you need to have a basic understanding of how they work. That means that you have either consigned, volunteered or shopped (perhaps all 3), or you have done extensive research. For example, we have some new sales in Alaska. There are no sales in Alaska, but the ladies involved have done their research, have family and friends who have attended sales in other parts of the country and have a basic understanding of what they are getting into before they made the commitment to start a consignment sale.

If you have never been to a sale, you need to research, research, research! You need to know what you are getting into before you think about tossing up some racks and "hosting a sale". You should never start any business on a whim.  You need to look at hosting a consignment sale like you would look at any business. Have a plan, do your research and get guidance to help you from making costly mistakes.

Do What You Say You are Going to Do

Written by Jenifer Gifford on .

I have had the recent displeasure of listening to my consignors complain about some other sales. Their complaint always seems to boil down to the same problem... the sale organizer says one thing and then does something else. The 2 biggest complaints are 1. Checks and 2. Pick up.

Your sole job is to keep your consignors happy. Without them, you have no inventory, no shoppers, no volunteers and no sale. When you make a commitment to them, you had better honor it. Last season one of my consignors waited over 4 months to get her check from another sale. Each time the sale organizer would email her some kind of excuse as to why the consignor hadn't received her check. This season, there seems to be more of the same with other sales... more of my consignors are chattering about a different sale, and the fact that none of them have received their checks that are beyond over due. When it comes to checks, you need to release them when you say you are going to release them. If you are late on sending your checks out, you need to communicate with your consignors.

The second biggest complaint we hear about is pick up. Consignors were told one thing about pick up, but the sale ran short on volunteers, so the sort was not done in time or was not done at all. As a sale organizer, if you tell them everything will be ready at pick up, it needs to be ready at pick up. Find a way to make it happen.

Mistake happen, and issues arise, but you have made a contract with your consignors. You are obligated to do what you say, when you say you are going to do it. One thing I know, if this sale people are talking about is shown to have released checks after they said they would, I know of a bunch of consignors who won't be back. And that's a shame. There is no reason to purposely set yourself back when you are trying to get ahead.

Copyright Jenifer Gifford 2012. All Rights Reserved.