Consignment Sales

I absolutely LOVE the consignment world! I have enjoyed shopping children's sales for longer than I've been involved in selling, but selling was always something I wanted to do. When I worked full time I never had the time to do these. Actually I don't know if I didn't have the time or if I just didn't know the ins and outs and didn't have time to figure them out!
Every consignment sale is different. They each have their own rules that you have to follow if you are going to sell. When we moved back to the Atlanta area I just googled "Consignment Sales" + the county we live in to see what would be convenient location wise and time wise. My best "first time" advice is to shop at one first- it allows you to see how things work.

After reading the rules, I decided I was ready to jump in! It's alot to remember the first time around (which way the hangers face, figuring out tag placement, do you hang an item or bag it?) but I just thought back to times when I shopped. Certain things are bagged and other things aren't. Also some sales have rules like "no bagged shoes" or "no underwear", so you just have to check with the rules. There is typically a fee to sell. All the ones I've been involved in cost $8. A small price to pay especially after working one and seeing what all goes into these sales behind the scenes.

Whatever I bag I add tape along the ziplock opening. That way no sneaky fingers make their way in to steal little items. Paranoid? Maybe.

The sale I use prefers metal hangers which means you really have to squeeze those little clothes on them. But some larger shirts and dresses tend to slide off. I always add an extra safety pin to make sure it doesn't fall off the hanger.

Also at drop off I always bring my handy "tool box" (formula container) that lives with my consignment stuff. That way if I have to tape something last minute or add a safety pin I have all my necessities right at my fingertips. Also when they check in your stuff they may suggest adding something to a bag or vice versa. It helps to have a few extra supplies.


Here are a few other tips I've learned along the way. They are in NO particular order- some pertain to selling, others are all about buying.

To determine the price of an item ask yourself "What would I be willing to spend on this?" Consignment sales aren't a place to become wealthy (ha) and make lots of spending cash. I'm happy if I can break even by rolling what I make into the next season's clothes. That way I'm not technically spending money on clothes that season. In one sale this year I made $200 and spent $60 to dress both my kids for the spring/summer. Also it's reward enough to just purge unneeded things that take up lots of space.

Don't go crazy buying. NOT everything at these sales are a good deal. Example?
This was a simple green button down shirt. For $8?? No. Maybe $4. And the fact that this seller wasn't willing to go half price on the half price day tells me that they just want to make money. I found similar shirts for $2-$4. It all adds up.

The person who helped me carry my unsold stuff out to my van asked how I did. I told him I came with a van FULL and left with only a laundry basket. Yep I sold all the big stuff! Luke's stroller/carseat/bases, his old tricycle, and some large toys that I hoped didn't come home didn't.
He said he and his wife weren't so lucky. I told him it's all in the prices! You gotta let go. Even if you "paid a fortune" for an item, others aren't willing to. All total our car seat/stroller/2 bases cost $230 new. I sold it all for $90. Yes that's a huge cut. But that's still $90 I didn't have before!

Know your market. I worked this sale last summer and got to know some of the moms. Many of them breastfeed and cloth diaper their babies. A PERFECT place to sell my out grown cloth diapers. NOT a great place to sell a bottle warmer. Make sense?

Make use of the half priced days and the donation option at the end of the sale. Most sales have a half priced time where everything that's marked goes on sale for 50% off. Some sellers don't markdown, some do. If you shop mark down day be sure you check the tags to make sure it's actually marked down.

If at first you don't succeed... I try to sell my items twice. If I put an item in a sale and it doesn't sell, I'll try again at another sale, or I'll save it for the next year. You have to remember "trends" and if you wait too long things will go out of style. Usually on that second sale if it hasn't sold I'll cut the price, mark it 50% on mark down day, and then many times I'll donate it. These sales make donation SO EASY. If you choose to donate it they'll pull it out of your unsold items pile and donate it for you. You also have access to see which items were donated and you can print off the form for tax purposes. Seriously, how easy is that? No hauling it in your car to good will. No standing waiting for a tax donation form. You click and print.

Don't go crazy buying. I try to set limits before I go. YES I'll see tons of things I LOVE, but not everything I love I need. I'll go through the kids clothes THE DAY of the sale. That way it's fresh in my mind what they need. My list will say "4-5 dress shirts- Luke" or "comfy play clothes- Emberly". That way when I'm surrounded by smocked dresses and lots of pink and polka dots, I won't get sucked in.

Buy ahead, and off season. Many times buying new off season is cheaper than buying at a consignment sale. I know- what I just said goes totally against this whole post. But it's all about the bottom line. I have found new t-shirts and shorts at Target for $2. The benefit? They are in excellent shape to sell at consignment after my kids have outgrown them. Sometimes you can't turn around clothes you buy at a sale and sell again because they are too worn. When you buy new, the clothes typically have lots more life. 

Buying ahead allows me to stock up as we go and then I use the sales to fill in what we need for the upcoming season. I said above that I dressed both kids for this spring/summer for $60. That's not entirely true. Since I buy ahead, I'm able to stock up on clothes as the year goes. I also have a pretty stringent rule that we always buy shoes, socks, and underwear new. PJs are a toss up. If I buy them at a sale, they must be in almost new condition.

Don't be limited to NOW. One of the ways I am able to stock up is to shop ahead (even in consignment sales). I will always peruse the bigger racks. I'll typically walk away with 3-4 outfits per kid that are 1 or 2 years bigger than they are because I love the outfit. When the time comes I'll have 2-3 sales worth of "couldn't resist" outfits that make a pretty great wardrobe! I hate to rely on just one sale in case the selection in the size I need isn't phenomenal.

Supply and demand. This goes with pricing accordingly. The smaller the size the more items there will be. Consignment sales are FILLED with baby clothes (0-12 months). A GREAT place to stock up. Not such a great place to sell. You have to keep that in mind when pricing. Keep the prices LOW LOW LOW to be sure to sell those itty bitty clothes. I usually price all my baby items at $1 and do the 50% mark down for most. Once you get to the toddler sizes you can price accordingly. $3 shorts. $2 for t-shirts. Sets (shorts with matching shirts) $4-$6. Boutique dresses can be priced anywhere from $10-$20. Polo Ralph Lauren $5-$8. The general rule is 60% off retail. But you can't use that formula with baby clothes or you won't sell it! Also another way to help sell baby clothes are to have onesies matched with bottoms and sell them as a set. Even if they aren't the same brand. I sold ALL my pants/onesies sets back in the fall and still had alot of the onesies without pants left. I also study the inventory sheet online to see what sold, what price it sold at, and what didn't sell to determine whether to try again at another sale, lower my price next time, and decide when to donate.

Here's a GREAT resource for pricing:

Pay it forward. There are TONS of benefits to consignment sales and I just LOVE that these barely used clothes are being reused and recycled! I also HUGELY believe in paying it forward. As I'm getting stuff ready to sell, I keep friends who are having babies, or have babies/toddler younger than ours that I can pass some clothes on to in mind. We have been graciously blessed with hand-me-downs that I prefer to continue passing down. I only sell things that I have bought or that were gifts, not what others have given/passed down. How do I keep it straight? With a simple sharpie initial on the tag. NOTHING feels better than to bless someone else.

And since my mom says "If it's not nailed to the floor, I sell it." That's not entirely true. I have BOXES of baby/toddler clothes that I just couldn't stand to part with. So it's ok to keep some things!! If my heart strings pulled when I was going through the pile, then I keep it. No questions asked. I am super sentimental and those precious handmade, memory filled clothes aren't going anywhere!!

2 comments :

  1. Those are great tips. I love shopping consignment sales, but every time I sell, I'm *amazed* at what a giant time-suck it is! It takes foreeeever, but maybe it's just the sales I'm selling at that have a lot of requirements or something.

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    1. I agree. It takes alot of time!! But I find it easier to do all at once (like this) then selling individually at facebook yardsales or whatever. The $$ is so worth it in the end :)

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