How to Shop A Children’s Consignment Sale

Last weekend was our local MOPS fall/winter children’s consignment sale. It’s hard to describe what this is to the uninitiated. I certainly had no concept of what was going on when I took my first bewildered steps into a seasonal consignment sale two years ago. Now I know that you have to approach children’s consignment sales with goal setting, strategy, training and grim game day execution. It’s like football for parents. Here’s what you need to know.

Pick A Good Consignment Sale. Ask around and find out which sales are the most careful about picking through the clothes they accept (no stains, etc.) while not being incredibly overpriced.

Sign Up for a Volunteer Shift. If you volunteer, you get a preview ticket. With a preview ticket you get to shop early and get the best selection.

Consign Clothes You Don’t Need. I did this for the first time this year. Based on my experience, you need at least 35-40 items of clothes to make this worth your while. Try to find a consignment sale that has an electronic tagging system. The tagging process is so much faster when you can type your information into this system, and it spits out printable tags with bar codes. My goal was to earn as much at the consignment sale as I spent on clothes for the season. Just take into account how much gets taken off for consignment fees and percentages ($8 and 30% in my case).

Make A List. I shop for almost everything my boys need for the season at this single event, so I go in with a list detailing how many shirts, pants, pajamas, shoes, etc. that they need and in what sizes.

Arrive Early. This will vary by sale size, but I arrived an hour early for my consignment sale and was about the 15th person in line. Bring a book. Call and catch up with a friend. It may seem a little nuts but I was the first person going through clothes in my area, where last year I ended up having to crawl under clothing racks to get to the clothes I needed to go through.

Prioritize. I have two boys. I’ve found that as the selection of boys clothes go up in size, the selection is much slimmer. So I always start with my older son in the largest size I’m buying for him. I go to consignment sales largely for the clothes, but other people may priorize toys and other large ticket items over these things. There is usually a mad dash for the area of the room with the Pack-n-Plays, glider rockers, strollers, bikes, tricycles, etc.

Bring a Laundry Basket. I brought a large cloth bag with me this year and it was completely inadequate. Plus it got really heavy. You can kick a laundry basket around on the floor as you go through clothes.

Bring Cash or Checks. While this isn’t true of all sales, many consignment sales only accept cash or checks so be prepared.

Utilize the Half Price Sale. Most consignment sales have a half off sale. If you are able to fit it into your schedule to go back for the ½ sale, this should change your strategy a bit. At the preview sale, buy only what you really love and wouldn’t want to risk not being there for the ½ sale the next day; the adorable sweaters, the practically new shirts and pants. Then come back for the ½ off sale and buy the play clothes. I ended up finding two pairs of barely worn pants made out of sweatshirt material for 50 cents each. Perfect to send John to school in because, at 50 cents, it really doesn’t matter how much paint gets splashed on them.

When the dust cleared last Saturday afternoon, I had bought almost everything I needed for my boys for the fall and winter and spent only $7. I earned $73 on items I sold and bought $80 worth of clothes and toys including four sets of pajamas, a sweater, nine pairs of pants, seven shirts, two pairs of barely-worn shoes (Keds and Stride-Rite), a 48-piece Melissa & Doug puzzle, a Little People Noah’s Ark for my Mom’s Day Out class and the $5 Clifford costume that is now John’s greatest joy in life.

Happy hunting.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “How to Shop A Children’s Consignment Sale

  1. Robyn

    Um… I am speechless.. I had no idea shopping was so hard. You are truly a pro! Congrats on the incredible deals. And, yes, I am holding out for my Clifford costume for Halloween… for $5 please!

  2. rose

    I barely survived Lil Lambs this fall, but I went into it with no plan or strategy. I will have to remember this next time I go to one of these…

    • I’ve been to Lil’ Lambs twice. The first time I tried to shop an hour before they shut down the first day. I bought a few things that I later figured out were way overpriced. Then I went back last fall an hour or two into the 1/2 price sale, and the whole place was cleaned out. Preview sales are the way to go!

  3. Pingback: Feel Good Shopping « Marshins

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