Wednesday, April 1, 2015

City Consignment: small business report

The building is low key.

City Consignment (517-441-9250) is the only full-time thrift/consignment store in Southeast Eaton County (Michigan).  It is located at 916 ½ South Main Street in Eaton Rapids.  Before City Consignment opened in 2011, people in Eaton Rapids had to drive to Charlotte (about 12 miles away) or Lansing (about 17 miles away) to shop at a "thrift" store.

That was inconvenient, especially for customers who wore less common sizes. Thrift stores do not stock every size of clothing.  They stock the items that are available to them.  A buyer might have to visit a store several times before they find clothing that fits them.

Even the big sign by the road is low key.

City Consignment is tucked behind Hungry Howie’s Pizza.  You will know you found them when you see this sign.

City Consignment is more than just clothes.  They also take food donations for the local food banks.

The owners opened the business in November, 2011 because they saw a need for connecting people with too much "stuff" and people who needed that "stuff".  They are strong, practicing Christians and they see feeding the hungry and clothing the naked as part of their personal mission.

City Consignment pays consigners (donors, really) a nominal amount for each item of gently used clothing or household good.  They re-price it at a slightly higher price and put it on display.

The prices they pay for items come off of a list.  Those prices may seem low until you think of City Consignment as a perpetual garage sale that the seller (the original owners of the items) does not have the hassle of running.

The “consignment” business is a volume business. Floor space is at a premium.  They have about 1200 square feet of retail space. Items are priced to move.  

Items that are more than three months old are discounted and sold for $2 a bag a few times a year. Half of the proceeds of the $2 bag sale go to the local Siren Shelter.  The mission of the Siren Shelter is :
" promote the elimination of domestic violence and homelessness by providing temporary housing, support, advocacy, education, and information to the community."

Some "overage" items are donated to local churches to support their emergency outreach programs.  

Out of season clothing

Some people are uncertain as to whether they should bring in items that are going out-of-season.  They know that the item, say a winter coat, will not fit their growing child next winter but they don't want to inconvenience the City Consignment shop with an item that will not be in demand for another nine months.

No worries.

City Consignment has storage space where they save those items until they come back into season.  Just be sure that the item is clean and dry and still has usable life left in it.

City Consignment has a fitting room which is very useful.  This fitting room is pretty clever.  It was economical to put in.

Household goods like pots-and-pans, working microwaves, vacuum cleaners and such are always in high demand.  Some of the families that City Consignment serves are starting over due to misfortune or broken relationships.  In some cases, they are starting over with nothing except the clothes on their backs.

Other items that are in high demand are:
*Towels, all sizes
*Blankets and comforters (important when trying to economize on heat)
*Fitted sheets, all sizes
*Fashionable purses


Self Esteem

Being a guy, I was surprised by the demand for fashionable purses.  The owner told me that few things lift a person’s spirits more than a good looking purse.  Self esteem requires nourishment as well as one’s body.

City Consignment supports local businesses.  They provide display space for a local silversmith.

Finally, City Consigment has one of the most active bulletin boards in town. Folks post notices of up-coming events, lost puppies and general news.  And if that was not enough, City Consignments has a corner where customers can pick up inspirational/religious CDs.

Who needs City Consignments?

Visit City Consignment if you have a teenager who has name-brand tastes that your budget cannot support.

Visit City Consignment if you have young kids who grow out of their clothing every time you blink.

Call City Consignment when tragedy strikes and you absolutely need three suit jackets RIGHT NOW at a price that won’t break the bank.

And keep City Consignment in mind when you have gently used items that you no longer need.  Call them if you want to see those items used rather than end up in a landfill.  Ask for Korey at 517-441-9250. 


  1. Ain't nothing like a good thrift store. I stop in once a year or so, and buy old/discounted tee shirts. Take 'em home and cut them into shop rags. Tee shirts make the best shop rags and every shirt is good for eight rags.

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