Consignment Mommies Unite!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Here in my part of the world, it's kids consignment season once again.  I'll bet the same is true in your neck of the woods too.  Usually, they roll around twice a year, in the early spring, and again in the early fall.  My neighbors first introduced me to the world of kids consignment sales when I was still pregnant with Lexi.  Before then, I honestly never even knew they existed.  Lexi is almost two years old now, which means I've been participating first as a shopper, and more recently also as a consignor for a total of five consignment seasons now.  And I have surely learned more than I ever hoped to know about these sales.  So let's talk about it.

Tips for Shopping in the Consignment Sales

First, let's chat about shopping the sales.  Shopping is certainly a lot less work intensive than consigning, but also requires some skill, if you want to ensure you are getting the best selection and the best deals.  

So first, where are the consignment sales in your area?  Chances are there are plenty.  You just have to know where to find them.  They usually pop up at various locations around town in the late winter/early spring.  These are the spring/summer sales.  And again in the late summer/ early fall. These are the fall/winter sales.  There are all sorts of websites dedicated to listing the kids consignment sales in your area.  Most of these sites will list the dates, locations, and website links to each of the sales around town.  Here is my favorite consignment directory site to get you started.

Now that you have found the consignment sales in your area, when should you shop?  Well, obviously, the earlier in the shopping window you can plan to shop, the better off you are.  You will find the largest selection awaiting you.   Check your sale's website or Facebook page beforehand though.  In many cases, they allow new moms (including pregnant mommies) to shop early - like before the sale opens to the public.  Some sales also offer guest passes for "pre-sales", again before the doors open to the public.  Take advantage of all early shopping opportunities that you can.  Of course, another way to shop early is to actually consign in the sale or volunteer to work at the sale. If you are able to do either (or both) of these, make sure you are definitely lining up for your early shopping window.  If you can't get in on early shopping, definitely try to shop as soon as the sale opens to the public.  Some sales have "restock" days where consignors can bring additional items after the sale has already started.  And many consignment sales also have discount days toward the end of their sale where items may be heavily discounted (at the consignor's discretion).  Discounted items will be clearly marked.  Many savvy mommies plan to go (whether for the first time or back for round two) on the discount days of the sale.


And what should you be shopping for?  The lion's share of the inventory at most kids consignment sales will be children's clothing.  Sizes range from newborn on up.  Most sales that I participate in accept sizes up to junior/ teen sized clothing, with some even accepting adult sized clothing as well. Clothing will be grouped by size and gender so things should be fairly straightforward.  But in addition to clothing, most sales also sell shoes and accessories, tons of toys- more and more including lots of electronics, books, DVDs, and lots of baby equipment - think things like strollers, pack and plays, high chairs, cribs, nursery items, and much more.  If you are a grandparent who needs spare baby items to keep at your house, these sales are the place to be!  So be sure to look around and make sure you don't miss out on anything.  And, for the spring/summer sales, there are usually big racks of swimsuits and swim/beach toys.  I also like to look for things like Easter baskets and sporting/outdoor equipment at these sales.  At the fall/winter sales, be on the lookout for winter coats, hats, gloves, and boots.  And don't forget Halloween costumes.  They are always at these sales!  A couple of my consignment sales also offer monogramming on site so you can get your new purchases instantly personalized. And almost all of them have huge racks of brand new bows and other hair accessories.


What else should you know?  ALWAYS bring your own bags with you.   Most sales don't supply them for you.  Expert shoppers even bring big laundry baskets that they can plop their selections down into while they shop, just scooting it along on the floor.  I tend to bring the oversized shopping bags. Either way, it keeps your hands free while you are making your selections, and provides you with something to carry your purchases in once you are done shopping.  Check on your sale's website or Facebook page to make sure you know which payment methods they accept before you go.  Most
of the sales in my area will take a credit/debit card but not a check. Also, there are big discard racks placed throughout these sales so if you decide against something before checking out, just plunk it down on one of these racks and a volunteer will get it back to the right place.  And if you decide to purchase a large item (furniture or other oversized items), there is usually a holding area that you can leave it in (or notify a volunteer and they will help you) so you don't have to drag it around while you are shopping or worry about anyone else buying it before you check out.

Now, for those of you who are ready to advance to consigning in these sales, read on for more!

Tips for Consigning in the Consignment Sales

I consigned in my first sale when Lexi was 6 months old.  She had already outgrown a slew of infant items and I was ready to clear things out to make room for new clothes, new sizes, a new season, and lots of new stages of toys and baby accessories that she was sure to need.  So, as you may have guessed, there are a lot of advantages to consigning in the sales, not the least of which is clearing things out to make room for the new.  In addition, as a consignor, you are also able to shop the sales before they open to the public.  It's a huge advantage, and one of the primary reasons I first started to consign.  And last, but certainly not least, you usually earn a tidy sum on the items you sell.  In the sales I consign in, the standard is that the consignor takes home 70% of their sales, with the sale itself taking the other 30%.  The portion the sale keeps funds the rental of the actual space, clothing racks, and all other expenses related to running the sale.  I feel like it's a fair trade off.  These sales give me a perfect venue to sell my items without having to list them one at a time on an auction site or shipping them to a buyer.  

So what do you need to know before you consign?  You will need to register to consign in the sale through their website.  Many sales also require that you pay a small consignor fee to help cover the cost of advertising and other expenses.  When you register, you will also need to sign up for a drop off appointment.  This is the time that you will bring your items in to be added to the sale.

Next, I would say you need to be prepared with all your necessary supplies and a little patience too. By "supplies" I mean there are things that you will need to prepare your items for consignment, such as:
  • Hangers: Check beforehand to find out whether you should use plastic or wire hangers.  Most of the sales in my area require wire hangers unless you are hanging infant-sized clothing.  
  • Safety pins:  Use these for attaching price tags to clothing and clothing to the hangers.
  • Card stock: Most of our local sales require that you use card stock (instead of regular printer paper) to print your price tags.
  • Scissors:  Use these to cut sheets of printed price tags into individual tags.
  • Tape or hole punch/ribbon: You will need these for attaching tags to toys and larger items.
  • Zip ties:  These work great to hold pairs of shoes together.
  • Ziplock bags: You will find that these come in handy to hold items with multiple pieces and parts.

Now that you have all your supplies ready to go, what should you consider consigning?  I would say you would want to consign clothing, shoes, toys, equipment, etc that is still in great shape and has lots of life left.   If the item appears worn or stained, or you personally wouldn't buy it- then it's probably not worth consigning.  Check with the sale you are entering to make sure you know what types of items they accept, as well as if there are any restrictions on the brands of clothing that they accept.  Definitely clean your items up and make sure they look their best.  If it's a toy, make sure all the pieces and parts are accounted for, and that it's in good working order.  Many sales require that battery operated toys have working batteries in them so customers can see how (and that) the toy works before they buy it.

How should you price your items?  Yes, the prices are up to the consignor.  But it's a bit of a fine line. Price your items too high, and they won't sell.  Price them too low, and they will sell but you will be missing out on lots of profit.   The best advice I can give you here is to know what your items are worth, and start from there.  The general rule of thumb is pricing your item somewhere between 40-80% off the original retail price depending on the general condition of the item, style, demand, and brand.  And if you've shopped these sales a time or two, you will start to see what most items reasonably go for.  You must use the sale's website to enter your items into their inventory.  This will also create tags for each of your items that you will print and attach to each item.  Once you do this a time or two, you will quickly understand how the process works, and it should go smoothly for you. Most of these sales also allow you to indicate that you wish to discount your item half price (or not) if it's still on the rack on the sale day, or to indicate that you want to donate (or not) your item if it doesn't sell. Again, these options are completely up to you as the consignor, but these are decisions that you will need to make.
Another tip for you - don't wait until the 11th hour to do it all.  I would consider myself a pretty organized person, but even still, this process takes a bit of time and a little effort.  In my opinion, the rewards are definitely worth it, but don't stress yourself out unnecessarily by saving too much of the work until the last minute.  I try to dedicate an hour or so in the evenings while my husband is having play time with our babe to work on hanging clothing, entering items into the inventory system, and tagging.  I generally start cleaning out, sorting, organizing, and such about a month before the actual sale, and then working on it a little at a time until the sale date rolls around.  You can certainly do it in less time, and many do, but I like to give myself plenty of time for this task.  And I know that there will be some days that I don't have time (or want) to work on it.  :)



At your designated drop off time, you will need to bring all your pre-tagged items to the sale. Volunteers will get them to the correct place for you.  If you are interested in shopping the sale, then you will be able to shop early with the other consignors.  Definitely take advantage of this opportunity (and see my shopping tips listed above).  Then, at the conclusion of the sale if you have items that did not sell, you will be able to return to pick them up.  Otherwise, they are usually donated on your behalf.  Be sure to note when the pick up time is in case you want any of your items back.  

Once the sale is complete, your consignor check should be ready for you shortly after.  Some sales have your checks ready by the time you pick up your unsold items.  Others will mail your check within the week.

The third and final level of consigning is actually volunteering to work the sales.  I have yet to advance to this level myself, but it's another way to shop even earlier in the pre-sales.  Many of the sales also offer volunteers a higher percentage of their earnings, so if you have the time and inclination, volunteering could certainly pay off too.  Check with your local sale about opportunities and how to get started. So that's all I have for now.  I hope these tips will be helpful to you in all your kids consignment endeavors!  Happy consigning, everyone!

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