Consignment Sale Shopping
Every Fall and every Spring, right along with the change of seasons, comes sale after sale guaranteed to give most bargain shoppers a thrill. Yes, twice a year we get to shop for new and gently used kids’ clothing, toys, gear, maternity clothing, books and more at local consignment sales and mommy’s markets.
At a consignment sale the seller typically tags their goods and hands them over to the sale. The sale owners facilitate the shopping process and the seller receives a check for anything of theirs that sold, typically 60-70% of the selling price. (The rest goes to the sale owner as a sort of selling fee.)
At a mommy’s market the setup is typically a little bit different. The sellers pay to rent a table space in the sale and personally man (woman? LOL) their own table as shoppers walk around. The table space rental is usually the only fee incurred and the seller gets to pocket all profit. These sales can be fun to shop just for the bartering factor. Many times sellers will entertain offers lower than the asking price.
Today we’re talking about CONSIGNMENT SALES. My readers and I got quite the conversation going on Facebook a couple weeks ago. I shared some of my best shopping tips and they shared theirs. Consignment shopping for me takes on two attitudes depending on the day: 1) Go without a care of what I’ll find or what I’ll buy. A true treasure hunt! Walking aimlessly and hunting for cool things that I just have to have. 2) (Most Common) Form a plan. Think about (even make a list of) things that my kids need and that I’d like to find. Know the kids’ sizes and shop for the next year/next size up/next season. Make a beeline for the top must-haves on my list as soon as I get to the sale. It sounds serious because it is! There are serious savings to be had!
Whether you’re a consignment sale rookie or you’re a bargain shopping veteran, read through our suggestions before you head to your next sale!
1. Bring a bottle of water. Plowing through racks and racks of clothes can be seriously dehydrating!
2. Bring snacks. Between getting hungry while shopping and not wanting to take a break, to keeping the kids (if you bring them) quiet for a few more minutes, non-messy snacks are always good to have on hand.
3. Wear comfy shoes. Leave the heels at home. There is no need to look fancy while consignment sale shopping. You’re likely to spend a good few hours on your feet. Comfortable shoes are a must! Dressing in layers helps a lot too. Many sales get hot. It’s nice to be able to shed a sweater or sweatshirt for a t-shirt.
4. Trace your kids’ feet on a piece of paper and cut the outline out. If you think you might shop for shoes at the sale, you can hold the outline up to the bottom of shoes to figure out if they will fit your child. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a sale without Lily and stood there debating whether a pair will fit her or be too small.
5. Bring a laundry basket. Many shoppers bring bags, many sales even offer bags to use while you shop. (My favorite are the gigantic blue bags that IKEA sells for pennies.) But I have seen shoppers use laundry baskets as well. Some tie rope or attach a belt to one end, making it easy to pull the basket along as you shop your way down the racks.
6. Study the floor plan or check social media for pictures of the sale layout. What do you have your eye on? Lego sets? Boys snow boots? Disney movies? Whatever it is, see if you can get a lay of the land before you shop to know where to head first. Many sales post teaser pics of the merchandise before the sales begin. Study these pictures for anything you might like to buy!
7. Utilize the HOLD area. Many sales will have a HOLD area where they do just that – hold your items for you while you shop. This helps a lot – especially for bigger items like bikes and outdoor toys. Even if you just THINK you might want to buy something, grab it and put it in the hold area. You can always change your mind and return it to the sale floor. If you don’t hold it and someone else takes it, it’s gone.
8. Take cash to help you stick to a budget. If you have a budget in mind when shopping, take only that amount of money in cash. You can’t spend what you don’t have!
9. Confirm what forms of payment the sale accepts BEFORE you go. Most sales will list their accepted forms of payment on their website or Facebook page. Other sales have contact info – use it to email or call and ask. While cash is almost always accepted, some sales do not take checks or credit cards. Know before you go!
10. Quality check before you purchase. Examine your goods carefully before you buy them. While most, if not all, have had to pass some sort of inspection prior to being accepted for sale, it’s possible something was missed. If the clothing has elastic waistbands make sure the elastic is still in good shape. Look for holes (check under the price tag!) or rips. Open DVD/CD cases to look for scratches. Some sales allow formula and baby food to be sold. Check the expiration dates.
11. Find out if kids are allowed at the sale. Some sales do not allow children. Some allow children but do not allow strollers. If children are allowed, think carefully before you take them. Only you know your kids. Consignment sales are FULL OF TOYS. It can be like walking a kid into their birthday and Christmas all at once. You can lose valuable shopping time if you have to spend all of your time dragging kids from the toy area!
Got some more tips to add? Leave them in the comments!
Big thanks to Caitlin, Katie, Bethany, Laura, Tarah, Jessica, Rachel, Jenny, Danielle, Kate, Allyssa, Jennifer, Dawn, Amanda, Rachel, Kelly, Miranda and Mary Beth who all contributed tips for this post!