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Clear out your closet and make some cash with Front & Company.
Front & Company is known for its beautiful window displays
When you walk into Front & Company, whatever preconception/reservation/apprehension you may still have about second-hand consignment (i.e., poor quality, outdated styles) will fly out the door as the kid-in-a-candy-store giddiness sets in. The bright and open storefront charms with fun and artistic décor, while the wide-ranging selection of everything from classic staples to eclectic fare to the ultra-chic—all neatly arranged—gets your adrenaline pumping.
That you don’t have to sift through piles of junk as the hope at finding something decent dwindles is all thanks to Allie and Dana, the style mavens of this Main Street fashion stalwart. All incoming consignment items must survive their discerning inspection before making it out to the sales floor.
With years of experience in the industry—and some serious passion for fashion—Allie and Dana act as finely tuned style filters, and can probably take credit for many a snazzy closet in the Lower Mainland. They are on top of street trends and know well what appeals most to their hip and savvy clientele. It’s a vital, albeit hidden, aspect of customer service that makes for a rewarding shopping experience. We can rest assured that what is displayed for our perusal is absolutely the cream of the crop.
Consignment is the practice of selling your items through a third party, with an agreed-upon split of sale profits. As Allie and Dana both agree, it is a great way to have fun with fashion, get your wardrobe organized and make some quick cash to reinvest in your style budget.
So if you want to sell your goods through consignment, just what does it take to get Ally and Dana’s stamp of approval? Here are their tips for enjoying a successful consigning experience.
For your first visit, bring in no more than one garbage bag full of items. They can be clothes, shoes, purses and other accessory items. Allie and Dana will make their selection right away while you wait (well, “while you shop” may be more accurate). If any of your items make the cut, an account will be set up for you. From then on, there is no limit to how much you can bring in for consideration.
The chosen items will be displayed for sale for two months. You will receive 40 percent of the price on any sold items. The sale price is determined by Front & Company, and is usually about one-third the estimated original price. At the end of two months, the store will call to let you know what has been sold and you can pick up your payment (you can also check in any time). If you don’t wish to take back the unsold items, Front will donate them to charity.
(This process is specific to Front, but should be similar to that of other consignment stores. It’s best to contact your store of choice to get all the information.)
Pretty straightforward, huh? Now let’s get down to the glamorous details.
Allie and Dana say all sorts of items have come through the door over the years. From amazing finds such as an Isaac Mizrahi vintage skirt down to socks and underpants (first tip: no socks and underpants), they’ve seen it all. But while they take pride in their scrupulous standards, they offer much encouragement to people interested in getting involved in consignment.
Just a little bit of due diligence on our part can greatly increase our chances of making it in.
Items must be washed and in next-to-new condition. It would be ideal if they are ironed as well, but the store does have a steamer they use for that purpose. There should be no stains, no rips, no missing buttons, no pilliness, etc. “It all comes down to respect,” Dana says.
Items should be no more than two years old in style, although vintage pieces in great condition are always welcome.
Pieces with nice, clean lines that are accentuated by an interesting detail or two usually make it to the Yes pile. For example, the white top pictured here has a simple and classic design that makes it versatile, and the standout detail in the neckline is a bonus. Similarly, the black hooded top is chosen for its interesting asymmetrical design and textured look that is understated but nonetheless eye-catching.
Jeans are of course a fashion staple and always in demand, but before we toss in all the pairs that we are ready to part with, Allie cautions that we need to pay attention to the cut and colour. Otherwise we’ll just be lugging them all back. Currently, darker washes are more popular, as are wider legs. The particular pair pictured here has both going, and the detail in the buttons seals the deal.
Similarly, leather jackets are popular but are by no means a gimme. As you see in the sample picture, leaner cuts with narrow shoulders will have a better chance of being selected.
The same principles extend to shoes and accessories; Allie and Dana are always on the lookout for a great combination of practicality, quality material, distinctive yet easily workable style and near-new condition. Pictured here are some prime examples.
Say you bring in a great piece in mint condition. The cut is superb and the design is dynamite. And it’s rejected. Why? Probably because it’s a wool-lined coat that you’re bringing in for the summer season.
Sometimes it may not be so easy to tell if a certain fabric is too heavy or light for a certain season, especially given Vancouver’s finicky weather. In that case, just bring it in. Allie and Dana can give you helpful feedback. If it’s a great piece but not quite right for the season, they’ll suggest you hold on to it and bring it back.
Front now has a designer section, where you can find big names like Betsey Johnson, Coach, Miu Miu, Juicy Couture and others. Bringing in a brand name piece may help your chances as there is consumer demand. However, acceptance is by no means automatic, and a designer label doesn’t eclipse the other deciding factors listed above.
Sometimes pieces are rejected simply because the store is overstocked. Your cage shoes are fabulous, but they just have too many size 7s on the shelf.
A good precaution to take is to call ahead and find out what they are looking for and what they have too much of. It’s also important to find out which seasonal items are in demand, as the store does plan its inventory ahead of time. A quick phone call might save you tons of time.
Allie and Dana are always happy to provide feedback on your pieces. And as you become more familiar with their decision-making process, it will become easier to know what to bring.
I have experienced my share of disappointment when having my items rejected. But the shopper in me is always appreciative of their strict quality control. And because the admission criteria is stringent, once your pieces do get accepted, you can be quite reasonably confident that they will get sold. And you’ll be that much closer to that gorgeous black crinkled silk wrap dress (or, you know, whatever) you’ve been eyeing there.
If you haven’t shopped consignment or consigned before, just give it a try. As numerous shoppers and consignors have remarked to Allie and Dana, you do it once and you’re hooked!
And if you want to get in on the fall season, it’s best to call now!
Davinia Yip enjoys discovering new things, especially ones that she can eat or wear. She feels lucky to be living in Vancouver, and even luckier to be able to write about it from time to time. Twitter