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Who is Kate Holmes
and how does she know all this stuff?


The leading expert in the resale, consignment, and thrift store industry, Kate Holmes tells you how to open a resale shop or start a consignment shop and be your own boss. Charitable groups whose thrift shop is a successful fund raiser use Kate as a resource as well. She can tell you how to write a consignment contract, how to advertise and promote your shop, and most of all, how to make your shop profitable. Interested in opening a children's resale shop, a designer consignment shop, or a furniture shop? Kate's the professional expert when you want resale education and free reports as well as Products for the Professional Resaler. The only real-life consignment shop owner and complete operations manual author, Kate is committed to helping store owners and managers succeed. 

Kate Holmes, author of Too Good to be Threw: The Complete Operations Manual for Resale & Consignment Shops, founded One More Time, a consignment shop in Columbus Ohio, in 1975. Now, through Too Good to be Threw, Kate continues to market a wide variety of booklets, pamphlets, and store selling aids.

One More Time, Kate's shop, was an immediate and consistent success. Having grown up in the consignment business, Kate used her experience to start her shop with less than $1000. One More Time was profitable within six weeks of opening. From its first day's sales of $31.90, the shop grew from 750 square feet to 3200, adding 1,000 consignors each and every year. OMT now continues its growth under the watchful eyes of a Too Good to be Threw-trained owner.

The original edition of Too Good to be Threw: The Complete Operations Manual for Consignment Shops was published over 20 years ago. Continually revised and updated, information and resources constantly updated, Kate is proud to offer the most complete revision ever of Too Good to be Threw, The Complete Operations Manual for Resale & Consignment Shops. TGtbT is the only operations manual written by a real-life resale shopkeeper!

Kate is always busy, writing and blogging, creating new and helpful Products for the Professional Resaler, speaking to resale groups and serving as an industry consultant. In addition, she is closely involved, and has been for over 20 years, in the success of the National Association of Resale & Thrift Shops. Kate is a past Education Chair, director, and fervent supporter of that Association. She was awarded their first-ever Educational Service Award in recognition of significant commitment to enhance and enrich industry  education. She has also been presented with the industry's highest honor, the Renee River Award, for outstanding service. Most recently she was honored with a lifetime membership. Kate writes a monthly column, Growing your Business with Kate, in the NARTS member newsletter.

Kate appears frequently in the media as an expert on resale, small business, and retail. She provides consultation for consignment, resale and thrift stores as well as managing the Family of Sites for Professional Resalers. She is also active in historic preservation efforts. Kate's free time is taken up with watercolor painting and fiction writing. She's the author of The Picker Who Perished/ A Too Good to be Threw Consignment Shop Mystery. Get an autographed copy for yourself or a batch of books wholesale to sell in your shop here!

Contact  Reach Kate Holmes of TGtbT.com by email, by phone 941-922-5902, or by mail at 4736 Meadowview Blvd., Sarasota FL 34233. Our Privacy Policy

Other views about 
Kate Holmes, Consignment Consultant and Resale Guru

What THE WALL STREET JOURNAL said about me

Kate on Entrepreneur Magazine's Product Sourcing Radio show: Click Here to listen

NARTS includes articles by me in their consumer-oriented e-newsletter. If you're a member, you can read past issues on their site. If you aren't, we have a collection of the best columns as The Best of Growing your Business available as a TGtbT.com Product for the Professional Resaler.

Golly, I'd forgotten about when the Christian Science Monitor came calling. It was fun while it lasted, but it's off their site now. 

Synergy in Resale, an interview from years ago that is more important than ever

An essay on adapting ideas to fit your situation

How Do I Start A Consignment Shop?
I have wanted my own business for more than 15 years. I want a shop with consigned clothing and my own jewelry designs, a fun place. I know what my husband is going to say, but would like your opinion.-- Debi More, Mesa, Ariz.

Debi: We'd all love to hear your husband's view on this topic, right after he has thoroughly researched the industry, pawed through collections at a few rocking resale stores, and unearthed a pair of Kate Spade leopard-print shoes for me.

Consignment and resale stores are enterprises that can thrive. As you contemplate this industry, I suggest you take a peek at a lively Web site, www.tgtbt.com. It's the product of Kate Holmes, a doyenne of resale. The domain name refers to "too good to be threw," which gives you a sense of her worldview. Aside from her trenchant* advice, there are chat groups, and even a murder mystery she wrote that takes place, if I understand it correctly, at a thrift shop. * advice, there are chat groups, and even a murder mystery she wrote that takes place, if I understand it correctly, at a thrift shop. * advice, there are free articles, tips, advice, and even a murder mystery she wrote that takes place, if I understand it correctly, at a thrift shop. She speaks regularly to the industry.

Ms. Holmes, who ran her own resale store for a couple decades, is passionate about topics such as eye-catching seasonal displays, the importance of stuffing handbags with tissue, and whether to limit the number of articles you'll accept from consigners (in a word: no). The site offers a number of helpful links, advice about useful software to track consigners, and smart cash-flow tips.

* I had to look up "trenchant", too. It means penetrating and incisive. Yup, that's me! --Kate


Region's clothing consignment industry grows as viable alternative to department stores
The Business Review (Albany NY)

Kate Holmes opened her first consignment shop in 1975 with an investment of $900. Because consignment shops do not own the merchandise they sell, Holmes avoided having to buy inventory--usually the single largest expense of a new retail business.

"You cannot do that today," said Holmes, from her home in Sarasota, Fla. Not only have costs gone up, but the burgeoning consignment business has become more professional. 

"It is no longer a garage-sale thing," she said. "There is more at stake."

A successful consignment shop may not require inventory investment, but it does require an investment in time, effort and knowledge, Holmes said.

In the Capital Region, the number of consignment shops has gone from two or three in the late 1980s to two dozen today, as people gradually have accepted them as a viable alternative to department stores for high-quality clothing.

Liz Carafano, who owns Liz's Closet, a consignment shop in Guilderland, said the business must overcome what is a stigma attached to second-hand clothing. "People buy second-hand houses and second-hand cars without thinking about it," said Carafano, who opened her store nearly 10 years ago. "Once they get past that, they are hooked. It's just getting them in there."

Women's clothing still forms the bulk of most of the business, although some shops, like Something Olde, Something New in Slingerlands, has expanded into furniture, housewares and gifts since it opened in September 1997.

Consignment shops take second-hand items from people and display them for an agreed-upon period, usually 60 days. Thrift stores they are not--if the shop owner doesn't think the merchandise will sell, he or she won't accept it from the consignor.

Women's clothing is priced according to quality and condition, generally about one-third of the retail price for a new item. If it sells, the shop and the consignor split the proceeds, usually 50-50 or 60-40. If it does not sell in 60 days, the shop returns the item to the owner or donates it to a local charity, depending on the contract with the consignor.

Start-up costs still are relatively low, said the owners of several local consignment shops. But resale shopkeeping is not as simple as the outside observer might think.

"It is surprising how labor-intensive it is," said Mikki Brassard, who this year opened Clotheshorse, a woman's resale boutique in Rotterdam. Brassard, who has no employees, sometimes gets help from her husband in keeping track of the thousands of consigned items in her tiny, 900-square-foot store at 1310 Curry Road.

Brassard and other consignment shop owners said there is a great demand for high-quality clothing at discount prices. At the same time, there is a large supply of unwanted but little-worn clothing sitting in people's homes. "Women don't need a specific reason to buy clothes," Brassard said. "They'll buy a new outfit every year." Another untapped market for consigned clothing are the women who worked in the professional world but now are working at home or raising families. "Now they have closets full of clothes," she said.

Brassard, who managed a bank branch and was controller of a local insurance agency before opening her own business, said she relied heavily on the advice of Louise Mills. Mills, who ran the Just A Second consignment shop in the Scotia-Glenville area for 15 years before closing it in January to pursue other interests, said she encourages people to open shops but emphasizes that it is not easy.

"It is absolutely more work than people realize," Mills said. She also points out that part of the job is to educate the consumer about the concept of the store.

When she began, "people didn't even know what consignment meant at first," Mills said. "But gradually people were impressed that they could buy high quality for very little money."

Brassard, a relative newcomer to the business, believes consignment "is just coming into its own." She attributed it to people's desire for a bargain, and the increased awareness in general in recycling and reuse.

According to the National Association of Resale & Thrift Shops, some 15,000 thrift shops and consignment shops operate in the country, and the number is growing. The trade association, based in St. Clair Shores, Mich., has seen its membership grow 40 percent since 1994.

Holmes said the success of one or two consignment shops can inspire others to open in a geographical area. "Once you have a thriving shop, there is a synergistic effect," Holmes said. "It also depends on how motivated local entrepreneurs are."


Twisting a Round Idea To Fit Your Square Peg

Donít toss aside an idea for improving your marketing when it doesnít fit your business or customer base. Kate Holmes, editor and publisher of Too Good to be Threw, a newsletter for the consignment and retail business, remembers giving a man advice on how to attract more customers into his clothing shop located in a wealthy tourist town. Holmes suggested that the man send out some of his staffers to pass out brochures to the crowds of tourists on his street. His response? A burst of laughter.

The man said the idea was the stupidest one he had ever heard. "My staff is too sophisticated for that," he said. Then he added for good measure, "And my shop is much too elegant."

The shop owner was no doubt right about his staff and his shop, but he was wrong about the idea. And, indeed, a year later he had the good manners to call Holmes to tell her that he had begun passing out elegantly engraved invitations for wine tastings, gallery openings and other chic soireesó an adaptation of her original idea.

Be like that shop owner who (after he finished laughing) reconsidered Holmesí suggestion and recognized that while the original marketing idea didnít fit, its underlying premise did. His challenge: Figuring out a suitable adaptation that fit his unique situation. He rose to the challenge.

You can too.

Adapted from Kate Holmes, Leadership Strategies   from: Alliance for Manufacturing & Technology

Thanks to the Angels of Too Good to be Threw:
True supporters of the Resale Industry

TGtbT.com has had the help, over many years, of some wonderful, giving, kind people. It has been thanks to their professional help that I have been able to keep TGtbT commercial-free, and they deserve all the acclaim I can heap upon them! Here's a few of them:

The White Elephant in Virginia's sisterly partnersCynthia Broockman of The White Elephant: Cynthia (on the right) and her sister Leslie own and operate two consignment shops and a charitable shop in Virginia. Cynthia talking about our consumer-oriented site, HowToConsign.com: "There IS no other place to get your name out there in front of the public. [We're] a Treasured Sponsor at How to Consign and frequent user of TGTBT's site. We get lots of new subscribers every month and hits on our website are way up.
    "For all those shopkeepers out there who wonder whether your products are really necessary or listing their business on How To Consign is really worth it, please tell them YES from us! In fact, your manual, products and creation/ maintenance of these two sites and the Sharing forum is responsible, in large part, for our business being what it is today. Almost 20 years from when we learned of you and what you are doing - we're still thriving.
"In fact, my sister and I are so grateful and feel so strongly about supporting what you have been trying to do, we'd like to put our money where our mouths (and eyeballs on the net) are. Is it possible for us to sponsor..."

Adele Meyer Executive Director of NARTSAdele Meyer, Executive Director of NARTS: Adele and I have been friends for over 20 years, dating back to when we both had our consignment shops. As you know, I've "retired" into being the "Resale Guru" here on the web, and Adele has "retired" into the Executive Directorship of the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops, our industry's association that I had the pleasure of serving for many years. Adele and I together and separately strive to improve every resale/ consignment/ thrift shop everywhere, believing that the better each shop is, the better we all do!

 A big shout-out, as well, to the  Sponsors over at HowToConsign.com, participants on the blog, fellow NARTS members, and the Flamingoettes Past & Future. And I would be remiss not to thank these invaluable Internet resources: grsites.com, Dynamicdrive.com, 2createawebsite.com, w3schools.com, and (really!) 171 other sites who've helped me with this one. 




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TGtbT.com is the premier web site for professional resalers. Start a consignment, resale or thrift store with our free articles and the TGtbT.com Products for the Professional Resaler. Interested in how to open a consignment shop, business plans, operating your shop, consignment software and selling secondhand clothes, upscale designer fashions, children's gear or used furniture? Consignment shops, resale stores, thrift stores and consignment sales use Too Good to be Threw. As a lifelong member of NARTS and a consignment consultant, our information is designed specifically for the resale industry.

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