For the thrifty yet fashionable, San Francisco offers many options, whether it be vintage, thrift or consignment. Each operates on a slightly different model, and this week we focus on roundup of consignment shops.

Here’s how consignment works. The would-be seller brings gently-worn clothing and accessories to a consignment shop, where the shop-keeper acts as a dealer of said goods. Until sold, the items remain property of the seller who brought the goods to the shop. Once sold, the dealer takes a percentage of the profit.

Everyone should do their research when considering consignment; though most shops follow a fairly standard procedure for purchasing clothes, policies vary. For example, the shop proprietors often set the sale price and the percentage of the share, anywhere from 25-50 percent.

Others require minimum sale prices or numbers of items to take on consignment. In addition, there can be limits on how long that they will hold an item for sale. Also, some stores have specific hours for selling, whereas some require appointments and yet others have drop off service.

Boots at Crossroads // Sarah Jehan

“Fashionistas” (or “fashinistos”) looking to make a buck selling their duds should know a few other things. At a minimum, clothing should be cleaned and pressed and shoes shined when they are presented for consignment.

Also, buyers typically want in-season clothing, or at least nothing older than a year or two. The trendier it is, the harder it may be to sell once styles change. Many of these stores take vintage clothing, too, but in that case, it’s usually from the 1970s or earlier.

When people talk about consignment, they are likely to first call out Crossroads Trading Company (familiarly known as Crossroads), with four locations in San Francisco, including the flagship store at the corner of Fillmore and Bush in Pacific Heights, as well as stores in the Haight, Inner Sunset and the Castro. Though inventory varies from neighborhood to neighborhood, in general the clothing at Crossroads runs on the contemporary and young side, with brands like Betsey Johnson, Marc Jacobs and LAMB.

Shoes at Fillmore & 5th

Those searching for designer fashions at lower prices should head to the Marina/Cow Hollow area where they’ll find Fillmore & 5th, the new high-end sister store of Crossroads, on Union Street near Octavia. The store carries virtually brand new clothing from names like Michael Kors, Oscar de la Renta and Rag & Bone. This neighborhood is also home to Simply Chic on Fillmore near Filbert Street, a shop that specializes in handbags and jewelry from designers such as Chanel, Hermes and Prada.

Others can say farewell to their old fashion at Goodbyes, in Laurel Heights on Sacramento Street at Laurel Street. Goodbyes is actually two stores — one for men and one for women. It wouldn’t be unheard of to find fashion here from Moschino, Marni or Tommy Hilfiger. For sellers, Goodbyes even makes house calls for large loads, and accepts items shipped to the store from those who live out of the area.

Out in the Outer Richmond is Jane Consignment on Clement Street between 23rd and 24th Avenues, with its eclectic sampling of clothing, jewelry, accessories and gifts running from new to vintage. Labels like Versace, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana can be found alongside $14 salt and peppershakers.

On Market Street near Sanchez is Sui GENERIS, a shop that concentrates on high-end designers and vintage. Like Goodbyes, there are separate shops for men and women, but what sets Sui GENERIS apart from the others is that the owners have relationships with designers, sales associates and clients in the Union Square area where they acquire new and second-hand designer fashion and accessories from brands like Burberry, Alexander McQueen and Jimmy Choo.

Finally, tucked into a pocket of a shop on Castro Street at 24th Street in Noe Valley is Mary’s Exchange. Carrying contemporary, designer and vintage, someone is as likely to find a Stella McCartney blazer as she might find a 60s cocktail dress.

By no means an exhaustive list, it’s clear that San Francisco has a consignment shop to suit just about anyone’s needs, taste or budget. Though shoppers should keep in mind that inventory changes often depending on what consigners bring in, so the brand name examples cited above may not always be available.


Main image credit: Sui Generis, Miguel J. Flores