View Full Version : Starting an online consignment shop - help!

Hunter Mom
Jan. 10, 2010, 11:18 AM
After my recent search for a new jacket & jods for DD (thanks to all who offered to raid your kids' closets for me!) it became evident that there are really no online consignment stores that specialize in riding clothes. There are some that do saddles, but really nowhere to buy nice, gently used clothes online other than eBay. In my area (within a 2 hour drive) there is only one store that has any consignment, and it isn't anything I'd make a special drive for!

SOOOOO - I'm seriously considering starting one. I've been in contact with couple of online consignment boutiques (specializing in high end clothes or accessories mostly) and have a basic plan in my head. To give you a little of what I'm thinking -
- I would split the sale price 50-50 with the consignor, but would do all the work once they got stuff to me.
- I would carry both show quality and possibly some slightly more used, schooling quality clothes (like things that may be ok for a local show circuit)
- I would NOT do helmets!
- Consignors would have the option of having me return unsold items or donating to an eBay store (also run by me) where a portion of the proceeds would go to charity.
- I would be available to pick up clothes at shows I attend - the purpose here is to help offset my horse & show expenses! I would also be willing to travel to barns in my area if a trainer had enough interest - either with things to buy or to pick up.
- I would keep wish lists for people adn let them know if something came in that i thought they might like.

Please help me with some research:

If you were to buy from an online consignment store, what specifically would you want?
If you were going to consign used items with me, what would you want?
Would you patronize an online store, either as a consignor or as a customer?

Jan. 10, 2010, 11:28 AM
I know someone who started an online consignment shop through her Facebook contacts. I think business has been very slow although she is a well known rider in the area and has plenty of contacts.

I think 50% is a big split to ask for if all you are doing is putting photos online. Most people can do that themselves these days and just put the stuff on Ebay, The Outside Course, Bits&Barter, or here on the COTH classifieds for a small fee.

Sorry not to be more encouraging.

Green Acres
Jan. 10, 2010, 11:55 AM
How would you market the consignment shop?

Would you provide shipping?

I would be interested if there was a good source & I could be assured the quality is what is described/pictured but building a reputation for online consignment could be difficult.

I do agree with Lucassb that 50/50 might be hard for some folks to swollow unless someone just doesn't want to deal with selling their old clothes. I know I hate listing things on Ebay due to the time & effort.

Jan. 10, 2010, 12:36 PM
I'm sorry to sound unencouraging, but I also think this idea won't work. :no:

Firstly, it's untrue that there are no online sites specializing in riding apparel consignment. Off the top of my head, there's saddlesandmore.com, chubbypony.com, and tackhousetreasures.com. I'm sure there are more that I'm not aware of, as well.

- I would split the sale price 50-50 with the consignor, but would do all the work once they got stuff to me.

The most I could stomach for consignment commission would be 25%. For 50%, I would either list the stuff myself (very likely) or take it to one of those local joints that sells stuff on Ebay for a commission (I wouldn't do that, but many folks do, as evidenced by the tack I've purchased on Ebay from those very arrangements).

Would you patronize an online store, either as a consignor or as a customer?

I have done so, but they needed to have EXACTLY what I wanted at a SMOKIN' price. For example, Tackhouse Treasures sold me a $250 pair of eventing boots for $50.

Show clothes are a difficult market for an online business. I'm always reluctant to buy hunt coats or breeches online because of fit issues. You might do better with well-known brands, but be prepared to answer an endless stream of emails asking you to measure x, y, and z--and then an endless stream of emails requesting a shipping tag for returns.

Also keep in mind that while your area may lack a good consignment store, most "hot" horsey areas do have good consignment stores, and people will pilgrimage to those stores if possible. I've been to awesome consignment stores in Raleigh, NC; Middleburg, VA; Metamora, MI; and here in Columbus, there's a fantastic consignment section in the back room of Equus Now.

So your target customer would be "anybody who doesn't live in a hot horsey area, doesn't want to shop on Ebay, and can't seem to find what they need at Tacktrader/Bits and Barter/myriad other online classifieds sites." That doesn't leave many people.

Green Acres
Jan. 10, 2010, 01:44 PM
Off the top of my head, there's saddlesandmore.com, chubbypony.com, and tackhousetreasures.com. I'm sure there are more that I'm not aware of, as well.

Cool - I need to check those website out. :D

Jan. 11, 2010, 09:51 PM
I have used the chubby pony for years. Lots online and you can call her. She's been in business for years. Does not take in junk and very fair prices!

Hunter Mom
Jan. 12, 2010, 09:09 AM
So what would you consider a fair split? The 50-50 was based on other stores (not horsey) that do online consignments exclusively.

Jan. 12, 2010, 09:50 AM
There are MANY online consignment stores , not to mention closeout shops that specialize in HALF price NEW Grand Prixs, tailored sportsman and other high end show items . Many do so through an EBAY store not an auction because it is easy to list . Ebay stores are expensive but a lot more visable than just your own website.. List an Auction on Ebay with a link to your on line store a you have an instant worldwide market.

Jan. 12, 2010, 10:37 AM
Certainly starting something on line is easier than going bricks & mortar . . . but I have to think you've got an up hill battle here as eBay is easy and the fees aren't so steep.

Are you website literate enough to build/maintain a simple site? Do you know how to add PayPal to it for e-commerce?

If you can do all that yourself, it won't cost you much to try (basic hosting packages at GoDaddy are $5/month -- I run several sites from there and have chosen to go use Wordpress templates which are free, even when building websites rather than blogs).

If you need to use a webmaster you may find that the costs will add up and you won't have the flexibility to make the changes you need on the site quickly enough to suit your business.

How are you going to advertise your site? Do you have a ready market of people near you? Are you prepared to pay for listings? Are you experienced with SEO? It takes awhile to gain visibility on the Web.

You have pretty steep competition out there. I sell stuff on eBay all the time. How hard is it to snap a picture and put the stuff in a box? I will sometimes buy a used saddle from a consignment shop because I want the option of sending it back. Likewise, I'll browse the consignment section in a Bricks & Mortar shop so I can assess sizes. When I look at saddles in consignment shops I also expect to get support from them in fitting questions. I generally only buy from shops like Trumbull Mountain or Pelham because I can discuss the idiosyncrasies of my horse's back and compare it to the saddle and determine if it will fit. If I buy on eBay it's with the philosophy that it's such a screaming good deal that I can resell it at a profit if it doesn't work for me.

I think the key would be to have really good source of consignment materials. Otherwise you are going to be out searching for things to sell.

Good luck! If you have the skills you can dip a toe in the water and see if it works without going too much out of pocket.