You may have antique furniture, old china or silverware, or a prom or bride's-maid dress that hasn't been touched in years and you're tired of looking at them. Or, tough economic times have you looking for some extra cash, or you're trying to save a few dollars here and there.

People buy and sell though consignment shops for any number of reasons. It can be profitable for everyone - if you're careful.

What's a Consignment Store

Don't confuse a consignment shop with what we commonly call a thrift store. With thrifts, you give away or donate your goods to the store. You may get a tax deduction, but that's it. The thrift sells your items and keeps the money for its charitable projects.

With a consignment shop, you still own the property. The shop tries to sell it. If it does, it takes a portion of the money as a commission. You get the rest. If the item doesn't sell, you get it back.

There are brick-and-mortar consignment shops, and probably one in your neighborhood. You can also find online shops. Auction sites like eBay are similar to consignment shops - they give you a place to sell and take a cut or commission - but they usually don't take possession of the property, and require more work from you.

Simple, Right?

It sounds easy, and usually things go smoothly and everyone's happy. But, it's really not all so simple, and sometimes things go wrong.

Take John Kiskaddon for example. His vintage piano sold for $30,000 at a consignment store. Unfortunately, the shop owner stole $25,000 of it! Over a five-year period she stole about $140,000 from people selling pianos through her shop. (She's spending two years in jail for it, too).

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Tagged as: Consumer Law, consignment shop, consumer law lawyer