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Consignment 101

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Consignment 101

consignment 101

There's nothing better than finding a designer handbag on sale! Or even better--finding a designer handbag on sale that is discontinued or a newly-used bag that someone just didn't want anymore.

And it's not just us bagaholics who have gotten wind of this shopping treat. Recently, the business of buying pre-loved has caught the media's attention with new TV show Resale Royalty, which follows the staff of a successful consignment store in the midwest--not to mention, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's ode to the thrift shop!

I'm relatively new to consignment, but have been lucky to find some great pieces including the two pre-loved Louis Vuitton bags--the Epi Petite Noé in Toledo Blue and the Stephen Sprouse Roses Speedy--pictured above.

From personal experience, I'd recommend an extensive look at the "pre-loved" (pre-owned) market before you commit to a purchase, authenticate with at least one source, and make sure that the item you buy is indeed what you receive.

There are a lot of bases to cover, but the reward of a grueling bag-search can be so sweet!

I was able to speak with Tiffany Lo McGee from PYRAMODE, an upscale consignment shop based in Boston, MA. She dishes about the ins and outs of consigning--as a buyer, seller, and business owner!

THE SHOULDER STRAP:  What do you suggest to keep in mind when looking at purchasing a pre-owned handbag or accessory online (whether it's from eBay or a consignment shop, etc.)?

TIFF:  When purchasing a handbag or accessory online, it’s important to consider a few things:

1)      Feedback (eBay) and Reputation: While this is certainly not the only thing to be considered, it’s very important. Has this person or company sold oodles of designer merchandise before, was it all guaranteed authentic and do they have 100% feedback? Are there any online reviews about these companies that may lead you to think that they may be selling fake merchandise?

2)      Pictures: Ask for as many pictures as possible from all angles to ensure that all the authentic signs are there. Always ask for a close-up of the serial number, tag, hologram, etc.

3)      Condition: While it’s always nice to get a pre-owned bag for a good price, you need to make sure the bag is still in good condition. Related to the point above, ask for pics of all angles of the bag so you’re not surprised when you receive it.

4)      Authenticate: To be safe, you can always send pictures of your bag to an authenticator prior to purchasing. Different companies specialize in certain brands.

THE SHOULDER STRAP:  What would you say to someone who has bought and received something that they aren't sure is real?

TIFF:  Don’t panic. Do your research and if you’re still questioning, contact an authentication company. Most companies can authenticate via pictures for somewhere between $10-$20 which is definitely worth it for the peace of mind. If you find out your bag is fake, there are a number of steps you can take to get your money back if you paid with PayPal or a credit card. Always try to work it out amicably with your seller first. Never pay with anything like cash, money order or Western Union as those offer no protection.

THE SHOULDER STRAP:  What are some deal-breakers considering condition of bags (i.e. what will bring a consignment price down)? What advice do you have for someone that is trying consignment for the first-time?

TIFF:  

1)       It depends on the type of bag you’re looking to purchase but in general, stains, strap wear and broken hardware are inevitably going to bring the price down. Rubbing on the corners isn’t as big of a deal as you can often get those touched up. If you have a receipt or dust bag for the item, that will help too.

2)       If you’re trying consignment for the first time, do your research! Know how much your item is worth and try to consign with a consignor who will take a reasonable split with you. Most consignment shops now only offer a 40% return to their consignors. An example, say you consign a bag for $200. The store has a 25% off sale which brings your bag down to $150. If you only get 40% of that, that leaves you with $60. Also be ready to be patient. If you’re looking for quick cash, consignment may not be the way to go for you as you don’t get paid until they get paid. There are shops or online boutiques that will pay for your item right then and there, with cash--like PYRAMODE.

THE SHOULDER STRAP:  What do you like most about being in the consignment business?

TIFF:  This may sound cheesy but my favorite part of it is helping people. I know what it feels like to a) buy a fake bag and not know how to get your money back (so helpless) and b) consign an item and feel completely ripped off because I got almost nothing back (so cheated). We have a unique consignment program here at PYRAMODE where we give our consignors a large chunk of return for their items while also letting them choose a charity to donate a percent of their consignment fees to via our Shop it Forward program. We also authenticate items and offer a full 100% authenticity guarantee on everything we sell. And of course I get to look at pretty things all the time!

Thanks so much, Tiff! If anyone has any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact me or Tiff at PYRAMODE.

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Dream Céline: Mini Luggage Tote in Almond

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Dream Céline: Mini Luggage Tote in Almond

There is nothing worse than a collection of unused handbags and accessories. If they aren't getting enough use, they should be with someone who can show the accessories more love than I can. That being said, I recently sold a handful of pieces from my collection that haven't seen the light for a long while and saved enough money to go out and find my dream, all-leather Céline bag.

Though I have seen both barely-used and well-loved Céline luggage totes on online consignment stores, I felt that my first all-leather mini luggage should be purchased new. There is nothing quite like an in-store experience where you get to feel and inspect your potential, future bag.

On my most recent trip to New York, I had the opportunity to visit the wonderful stretch of retail in Soho. There, I was able to find stores that housed walls and walls of beautiful bags, and luckily one of them was stocked with Céline.

I tried on a healthy amount of bags--phantom luggages, the small trapeze, and a few minis. But the colors and textures available didn't entice me enough to purchase.

I was looking for a smooth or drummed leather mini luggage, as I have seen photos of heavily-used pebbled leather luggages that have puddled over time. Luggages in smooth leather retain their structure far better than its more-textured siblings.

Celine Interior

Indecisive and somewhat disappointed in my findings, I was almost out of the store when a neutral, smooth leather mini perched on a nearby shelf caught my eye.

It wasn't beige like the color Dune or gray for that matter. It was a very light green-gray that is a neutral chameleon.

The beauty of Céline is Phoebe Philo's minimalistic-chic aesthetic which comes in a wide array of colors. Like Balenciaga, Célines are scrumptious enough to own in any color.

Sometimes "Almond" looks more gray, green, or beige depending upon the colors that surround it. The leather piping is a beautiful, darker tone of the almond color, which makes the bag just breathtaking. Its gold hardware and Céline insignia complement the bag well.

One of my favorite aspects is that the bag is entirely made from the smooth, almond leather. Even the pouches inside and outside are fully almond leather. The bag is luxurious inside and out.

Celine Piping

The store was about to close in an hour, and the time to make my decision loomed on the horizon. It isn't a secret that Céline flies off the shelves. I was told by fellow bagaholics that when you see a Céline you like, go for it--lest you live with non-buyers remorse.

Though I know scratching of the light, smooth leather is an inevitability, I vowed to pay close attention to how I handle the bag, as I would any other piece in my collection.

I decided to take the plunge. This was one of the few times that I ran into one of Philo's gems without having it be a display piece or reserved.

The decision to cleanse my closet of older, hardly touched pieces to attain a bag ranked high on my wish list is one that I'm happy I made. Weeks later, I can say that it indeed wasn't an impulse purchase.

Just when I thought I couldn't love its subtlety and elegance more, my love for it grew even greater as I took it out for its first glimpse of sunlight.

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Everything's Coming Up Roses: Louis Vuitton Stephen Sprouse Roses Speedy 30

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Everything's Coming Up Roses: Louis Vuitton Stephen Sprouse Roses Speedy 30

I've been trying to wean myself off of the Vuitton monogram for a while, but I still hold some styles near and dear. Unfortunately I wasn't "in" to Louis Vuitton in 2009 when they released their limited Stephen Sprouse Roses collection.

My favorite limited edition collection to date, Vuitton Roses is a classic style that is perfect for the spring and summer. It is a fun, casual look that is coveted by many Vuitton collectors (I should know... I've been drooling over this fun print for a very long time!) I found this Speedy 30 on a reputable online consignment store and had it authenticated by two different parties before purchasing.

When it finally arrived in the mail, I was ecstatic. The roses have more of a colorful pop than in the photos I viewed and it is in very good condition.

When cared for properly, Speedy bags can mature beautifully, leaving a honeyed patina on the vachetta and the canvas becomes smooth and flexible. Compared to my first Speedy, the blue Yayoi Kusama, which is stiff with virgin leather, this aged bag is a welcomed piece in my collection.

Stay tuned for an upcoming article about buying pre-owned luxury items and a look into the consignment business with a professional!

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