I love consignment. Purchasing second hand clothing, toys, and gear for Parker (and now Caity) has saved us so much money. Being able to purchase items and then pass them along again also gives me warm and fuzzies. We decided to be team green with Parker so that a majority of our gear would be gender neutral for future children. When we got pregnant with Caity I wanted to find out the gender. Knowing we were expecting a girl we were able to sell a ton of Parker’s clothing, bedding, etc… to pay for everything we needed for Caity.
I have been shopping consignment sales for about 3 years now and a few months ago decided to share my top 10 Tips For Shopping Consignment Sales. While I am still new to consigning, I also had a few tips I wanted to pass along for anything thinking about doing it.
The first step is deciding what you want to consign. I already had about 8 bins of items but also decided to go through the kids rooms and playroom to locate additional items. Things that Parker hasn’t really taken too, similar items, and toys that Parker has outgrown that are more boyish I collected to add to my pile.
Do You Homework
If you are unfamiliar with local consignment sales Consignment Mommies is a great resource to find local stores and sales. check out their website and social media pages. See how many followers they have and how interactive their readers are. A more well known sale will most likely have a good following and active readers. Make sure to read the consignor directions. This is where you will find out what % of your profits you will receive, how to possibly get a higher %, what they accept, do not accept, and how to prepare your items, and most importantly how you are paid. Some sales have a strict no safety pin rule which is extremely important to know beforehand.
Take a look around Amazon or local stores to get a better idea of what the price tag is on new items that you maybe selling. A general rule is to mark items, in excellent condition, at about 25% of the original price tag. Items new with the tags can usually sell if priced at about 50%. Certainly keep in mind the brand. Brands such as Gap, Janie & Jack can and should be priced higher than Old Navy and Jumping Bean. Someone is more likely to pay $5 for a shirt from Janie & Jack but not Jumping Bean if both are in excellent condition.
Find Your Rythm
There are many different ways to prepare for a sale. Some like to sit in front of the TV each night and do a few items at a time. I found it easier to pull everything out the Monday before a sale and spread out in the dinning room.
There are also several items that are helpful to have on hand when preparing your items. We have had this garment rack from BBB for awhile now and I have even tried selling it a few times. I am glad I didn’t because they was great to have while prepping all of the kids clothes. I was able to hang them all up and separate them by gender and size easily.
I also gathered the above materials to help package up smaller items, shoes, toys, and clothing. Tagging guns are available on line and run about $25 and include plenty of barbs. You will also need cardstock and a printed to print out all of your tags. Most consignment sales have a specific system and require you to register to obtain a consignor number for your tags. The system I use is very simple and you can see what has sold each night. You can also generate reports to keep for your records and print out to help with pick up (more on that below).
Price To Sell
If you are taking the time to gather, clean, and tag your items you want them to sell. For every item you tag decide if it is something you want to drag back home, can be handed down to someone else, or is something your willing to let go only IF it sells for a certain price. All other items mark to sell and offer 50% if your sale offers such. A few dollars may not seem like a lot but multiple that by 40 items and it really add up.
Hanging Your Clothes
Most sales require all clothing to be hung on items and many even expect that all clothing is facing a certain way. The easiest way to showcase your clothing items is to use the appropriate hangers (ie shirts, pants and outfits). I usually stock up on empty hangers at every sale I go to. You can also pick up cheap hangers from thrift stores and some retails stores will also give you free hangers.
It’s also important to mark your hangers. You may think that it will be easy to spot your items during pick up but that has rarely been the case for me. Especially when they get accidentally moved to a different section. Spray painting hangers is fairly common and there is a good chance you will use the same hot pink or lime green as someone else. I decided to use some Halloween Duct Tape that ended up standing out really well. I was able to browse each section and pull my items very quickly while I saw others scanning through each piece.
Bundle, Bundle, Bundle
If you have lots of smaller items like rattles and teethers it is a good idea to bundle them together and offer a lower price. It’s more appealing to the buyer and if for some reason they do not sell, they are easier to locate at the end. I would bundle 4-5 small items together and price it around $6 and offered it for a discount.
You can also bundle clothing. During this last sale I bundled 3 pairs of Jumping Beans pants together (black, brown, and blue) for $5 and 5 Carters NB Sleepers for $10. I probably could have gotten more if I had sold each one separately but that would have taken more hangers, more, time and probably a few more items that didn’t sell.
Packing It All Up
The best way to pack all of your items up is by category. This will make it easier to disperse your items around the sale floor. I gather all maternity items, food items, toys, and gear separately.
As you are packing everything up make sure to double check all items have a tag. If you have time also take a photo for your records. I learned the hard way when I added an item last minute and didn’t create a tag for it. The inspector at the sale didn’t catch it and I ended up not being able to retrieve the item.
I also packed a survival kit with everything I thought Rob could possibly need. Items included; the taggging gun, scissors, hole punch, tape, zip lock bags, lint roller, zip ties, and a permanent marker. Everything fit nicely in a Thirty-One Keep-It Tote.
Dropping Off Items
Make sure to plan ahead and decide on when will drop off your items. It’s important to plan enough time for travel, getting your items inspected, and putting everything on the sale floor especially if you are going towards the end for the drop off time. Since we have a nursing infant at home Rob had to go for me and it took about 4 hours to go through the process with about 300 items.
Take you time placing items around the sales floor making sure to put them in the right section for maximum exposure. This is where creative or well packaged items will help yours stand out from the others. Make sure you place clothing by the appropriate gender and size. Items that are more gender neutral tend to go in the boys section from my experience.
Picking Items Up
Once the sale has closed I like to create a report of all my items and import it into Excel. From there I create a comprehensive spreadsheet for my records. This allows me to see what sold and for how much. I then know how much the payout will be which is the best part! It also shows me what items did not sell that will need to be picked up. From there I decide what items I want to spend time looking for and make a list to bring with me.
When picking up I start with the clothing, then gear, followed by small toys and then big ticket items (like strollers). I mark items off as I locate them within each section. If I am having trouble locating an item I will move on and go back later. Sometimes staff are still putting away unwanted items from the register or moving items left around the sales floor to the correct location. If after a second time I still cannot find an item I ask for help or see if they can verify it was not purchased. Unless it is more than $10, if I cannot find an item after looking for 15 minutes I move on. Some sales will allow you to report items you could not locate over a certain value amount. If their staff happens to find it they will then contact you.
Once home I sort through the unsold items into donate, hand down, and store away piles. Anything I want to store away for the next sale I organize into bins and put away in our crawl space.