How to Shop and Sell at Children’s Consignment Sales

First, I’m going to share with you the difference between these special large scale sales and consignment stores or garage sales. Second, I’m going to talk about proper planning for a consignment sale both as a consignor and as a shopper. Third, I’ll discuss some tips for shopping a consignment sale and share our special giveaway for this week!

Major Differences Between Venues

There is no shortage of consignment stores in most states (Kid to Kid, Children’s Orchard, Once Up on A Child, plus many independently owned stores) and of course garage sales are always popping up at the turn of the seasons. However, I prefer to save my clothes shopping for twice yearly community consignment sales because when I do my clothes shopping at consignment sales I can buy enough clothes for both my kids for a full season in one place!

Consignment stores don’t offer the variety I like when I am clothes shopping. I find that consignment stores are great places to find a specific item like a button down shirt for a special occasion, a plain shirt for a project, or a pair of gloves when my son has lost one and I need another ASAP!).

Likewise, garage sales aren’t my preferred source either. The quality is hit and miss and obviously the selection is, too. Finding all of what I need to clothe two children at garage sales would take more time than I am willing to spend.

Community consignment sales are large (I mean REALLY large) with hundreds of consignors and thousands of products to choose from. The quality is pretty well controlled and prices are relatively low. Many people who shop these sales do so with the intent of NOT shopping again until the next season change!

How to Sell Children’s Items at a Consignment Sale

If you are interested in selling your child(ren)’s things at one of these sales here’s what you should know.

  1. There is a fee to consign that is typically around $10 and most sales will also keep about 30% of your profits. However, there usually are going to be costs associated with promoting a garage sale or selling clothes to a consignment store as well.
  2. There are specific tagging guidelines that may take you longer than you think. The tagging requirements are sometimes cumbersome, but once you have shopped a sale you will understand and appreciate them.
  3. You do not have to work the sale but those who work the sale often will get in earlier.
  4. Most sales will allow you to consign clothing for the next season (winter and fall clothing including costumes at the fall sale and spring and summer clothing at the spring sale). You can also sell books, bedding, toys, gear, furniture and maternity clothes at many sales.

How to Plan for a Successful Shopping Trip

Planning ahead for a consignment sale is a most important step. Here’s how I do it.

First, I encourage you to set a budget and stick to it.

Second, take inventory. A couple weeks prior to the sale, take inventory of what your children have, try on clothing to see how much growing room they have and take note of what will work for the season coming up and what you need to buy. I also find it saves time to pack up the clothes that no longer fit them to donate or sell so that I don’t have to do it later.

Third, make a list of needed items. Make sure to include all the basics like coats, hats, gloves, jackets and shoes.

Fourth, make yourself a size chart for each child. Gather up a few items that fit your child well now (shoes, long-sleeved shirts, pants, etc) and take measurements with a cloth tape measure. This will save you a ton of money! (see tips below for more on this). I always measure my child’s foot, both length and width, for shoe fitting. Then I can measure the shoe itself to make sure it will fit since sizing varies by brand and is imperfect anyway.

Fifth, for a fall sale, you might consider making a list of children on your Christmas list and a few ideas for each. There are often fabulous deals to be found on toys, books, bags, furniture and bedding, some new with tags.

Sixth, make a list of “just for fun” stuff. This can come in handy if you have some of your budget left over or for the 50% off day!

Tips for Successful Shopping

When you arrive at the sale you may be overwhelmed by the amount of stuff, the crowds and the amazing deals. Follow these tips and you won’t walk out broke with one little bag of stuff.

The day of the sale, be sure to take the following items with you:

If at all feasible, don’t take your kids. They will only distract you from the task at hand. This is NOT a regular day at the store, and you only get once chance to do it.

Again, if at all feasible bring a girlfriend, sister or your mom. You will be happy to have someone to help you make decisions and to help you carry or watch over your planned purchases.

Bring several bags or baskets. Sometimes there are bags available for shopping, but you may still need a bag or basket to carry your items to the car. I find cloth or reusable shopping bags to be perfect for consignment sale shopping.

Bring your list and measurements! If you don’t know what size your child is right now you will end up with items that don’t fit properly with no way to return them. Because the items have been washed and dried, the tag size is really not accurate any longer so make sure to bring actual measurements with you.

Your budgeted amount to spend in CASH! Most sales accept other forms of payment, but if you bring cash, you won’t be able to go over budget.

More tips:

For the best selection, go on the first day. Many sales run for two or three days, usually Thursday, Friday and Saturday with at least the last several hours on Saturday being a 50% off sale! Some sales will let consignors and volunteer workers in to an early preview sale before the general public is allowed in. Volunteering to work a short shift is a wonderful way to get the best selection.

Allow three or four hours for shopping. You will need time to shop, review your selections and wait in line! Lines on the first day of the sale are often long, and you don’t want to rush yourself.

Grab any item you think you like, hold onto it and weed through your selections at the end. Many sales provide a place to look over all of your selections. If your local sale doesn’t provide such an area, the organizer may be open to the suggestion for future sales. Looking through the items you’ve picked will allow you to measure for fit and compare prices, value, quality and practicality before purchasing. At this time you can also add up all your selctions to make sure you are still within your budget.

Put unwanted items back on the racks in the proper location by size and gender. There are not usually extra helpers at these sales to re-rack or organize the sales area during the sale. If you don’t put the items back, someone else will miss out on them and the consignor may lose a potential sale.

Be really discerning when you are making final selections. I’ve noticed that lots of clothing items, especially for girls, look so adorably cute on the hanger, but when I get them home they just don’t get worn much. Usually this is because they only match one shirt or they are too dressy for everyday wear. Be sure to look closely for tears, stains and loose hems. Despite a typically strict review process, some things get by.

I hope that by using these tips you have a successful shopping trip without breaking the bank!


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