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Children’s Consignment Sales
Within a week of the last JBF sale that I did, I had a check for almost $400 in my hot little hands. Woo-hoo! I’ve been consigning both my things and my kids’ things for over a decade. And, I spent a few years working in a kids’ consignment store. So I’ve got all the best tips on how to make the most money consigning your stuff.
Kids are expensive. When they are little, they outgrow things so quickly. When they are bigger their requests get more expensive. I earn several hundred at each sale that I do. Also, I save hundreds on the things that my kids need. Hello, $5 Nike soccer cleats!
Consignment sales can be time-consuming. The trick is knowing what works so you can maximize your earnings with minimal efforts.
Kevin wears out some of his favorite toys, and then some of them are discontinued. I have had luck finding them at sales. And, since he still uses many toys that are considered more age-appropriate for preschoolers, I can find good deals and update and cycle our current assortment.
Consignment Stores vs. Consignment Sales
Consignment stores are diminishing in popularity, as they are brick and mortar locations that have annual overhead costs. What is becoming more popular are the weekend/temporary consignment sales and selling in Facebook groups. If you are looking to buy secondhand, there are many options out there.
For a temporary sale, the organizers only have to rent a facility for a few days and they rely on volunteers rather than paid staff. Facebook selling is free, so no overhead there. With such a thin profit margin anyway, it is hard to maintain a store year-round.
I’ve been re-selling my kids’ things for over 10 years. And I used to work in a consignment store, so I have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t. I like consigning our things because it’s good for the environment to reuse things whenever possible, and it’s a nice little bit of cash!
My favorite consignment sale, the best consignment sale in the Philadelphia area, just announced their spring dates, so it’s on my mind. Now that my kids are back in school, and our house is overloaded from Christmas, I am gathering our things up and getting ready to tag. I am trying to get my friends into it more and they’ve asked me to share my tips.
OK, your kids have a bunch of stuff they don’t use or wear, and to get some money, you want to sell it.
Selling Attempt #Fail
Take a look at this:
This was actually posted in a selling Facebook group that I am in. Would you spend $100 on that? My guess is no. I certainly wouldn’t. That person didn’t want to put forth the effort to present their things nicely, that’s for sure. My guess is, with just a little bit of effort, they could have made much more than $100. Size 0-4? Are you kidding me?
There is so much wrong with it, I don’t even know where to begin. So let’s focus on what does work, not what doesn’t.
How to Choose a Kids’ Consignment Sale
First, you have to get to know the kid consignment sales in your area. JBF (Just Between Friends) is a large, national chain of consignment sales that are very popular. But churches, preschools, community centers, and many other facilities have them.
Ask around and ask other moms. If you’re driving and see one and you have time to stop in, do it. See how crowded it is. Do they have a lot of customers? How are the items presented? Talk to the staff and see what they recommend and ask how you can sign up for next time.
Ask what their percentage split is and what their volunteering requirement is. Most sales do a 70/30 or 60/40 split. Most sales require you to work at least one shift or forfeit a percentage of your earnings if you do not.
Follow the Consignment Sale Rules
Read the website and follow their rules. You are only hurting yourself and your earnings if you break the rules. Consignment sale rules are there to maintain the quality of the sale.
If you go to a sale as a shopper, and items for sale are out of season, torn, stained, missing pieces and overpriced, how likely are you to return? Exactly.
Tagging Your Items-Getting Set Up
You don’t have to be a Type A personality to be organized to do this at home. All it takes is a few supplies and two plastic bins. Most places that do a sale do it in fall or spring, or both. I keep one bin for fall/winter stuff and the other for spring/summer. As my kids outgrow things, I just look at it, evaluate if it’s worthy of resale, and toss it in the correct bin.
If it needs to be donated rather than sold, I usually have a shopping bag on top of the bins that I drop off at Goodwill as it fills up. BE HONEST with yourself about your things. If you find yourself saying, “Well, it’s just a small hole…” or “it’s only missing 1 piece”, NO!
Do not try to sneak in stained or damaged things. It hurts the sale because you have disappointed customers. Kids do put wear and tear on things, and while it may stink to have to throw it out, sometimes that is what happens. If it’s not in decent condition, trash it or save it for your neighborhood yard sale where someone might be interested in it for a quarter.
You’re wasting your time if you tag things that are not going to be sold. If you consistently bring broken/stained/damaged things, you may be uninvited to return.
My bin system makes it super easy to complete my tagging. When it’s sale time, I pick an afternoon, bring the bin upstairs, and tag. I usually do one last sweep of the closets and toy bins for items. But for the most part, I am tossing them in the bin as they are outgrown.
Having the bins all ready to go in the basement is also handy at the holidays and birthdays. If my kids get a gift I know that they won’t wear or use, and it cannot be returned, I toss it in the bin.
My Ziploc Bag Trick
I really try to be Earth-friendly. I hate throwing things out. You’d be surprised at what you can load up in a ziploc bag and tag for $1 or $2. And it sells! I have sold bags of:
- Happy Meal type toys
- crayons, markers and pencils with no box
- sheets of stickers (lots though, not just 1 or 2)
- Matchbox type cars and toys
- paperback and board books
I gather up like items, bag them, seal them shut with packing tape and mark “misc art supplies-$2.” Many preschool teachers and daycare owners shop at consignment sales, so they’re happy to find stuff like this. Just make sure that the bag makes sense. IE-all the books in the bag are for the same reading ability or age group.
It’s a great way to sell my items and not have to throw them in a landfill.
Supplies for Consignment Sales
In my consignment sale bins in the basement, I have a grocery bag with these supplies. That way I always know right where it is and have it handy when it’s time to tag. Once you make about a $25-$30 investment in supplies, that will last you throughout several sales. The only thing I ever really need to replenish is card stock and packing tape.
- Hangers (maybe, some places want you to hang things) I got mine for $1 at the dry cleaner, or I save them from the dry cleaners.
- Clear packing tape
- Safety pins or a tagging gun (Tagging gun was $10 on eBay and so worth it!) to attach price tags to your stuff
- box of 1-gallon and 2-gallon clear zipper/ziploc plastic bags- to bundle books, secure puzzles, etc.
- cardstock/paper for price tags
- string/small cable ties-I use these to bind shoes together, but sometimes I put them in the ziplocs
How to Price your Items for Consignment
This is where I see parents make huge mistakes. Most moms know that you can get Circo shirts and shorts at Target for $3.99. So why in the world would I purchase your used item for $3.00? I wouldn’t. Many sales, like JBF, have pricing guidelines on their site. But you can only expect to recover about 20-30% of what the item is brand new.
For example: Those kids’ Keen water shoes are very popular at consignment sales. They retail for $40-$50, I’ve never seen them priced above $15 at a consignment sale. And then I get 60%-70% of that as a seller. I consider it good if I recover $10 of my original $40 purchase. Consignment sales aren’t really about making a ton of money, it’s about recovering what you’ve already spent. That can still be a nice chunk of change though!
Make sure that you are clear about what it is on the tag. The size and all the information needs to be correct. Remember, if you are selling a boy’s winter coat, you might be selling against several other winter coats of the same size. You want yours to look the best and be the best value and still recover as much as you can. For pricing your consignment items, you want to hit that sweet spot. Part of that comes with experience and shopping the sales.
Be honest with what you’re consigning.
Savvy moms shop at consignment sales. You’re not going to trick anyone into paying more for something. If it is a no-name brand, price it as such. You can still sell things that aren’t the big brand names, just be fair in pricing. One time I had a consignor in the store trying to convince me that she had a pair of Vera Wang shoes. “Yeah, but they are from her Kohl’s line, not really Vera Wangs.” You’re not going to trick people into thinking that the item is more than it is.
Even if you don’t sell in the Facebook groups, join them and browse. That can give you a good idea of what sells in your area and fair pricing. I see some moms bump the same item up 10-15 times, and not get the hint. Other items have 20 buyers lined up 10 minutes after it’s posted. What is the difference? Learn it.
Know what happens to your unsold items
Most sales have a system set up that whatever is unsold must be picked up by the owner or it will be donated to charity. My personal philosophy is that once I have tagged something for sale and it leaves the house, it never returns. I have gone back to sales for my bigger ticket items though, like a stroller. Then again, I know many moms who do go back and get their things and bring them to the next sale. If it’s already tagged, why not? Maybe you just didn’t find the right customer yet.
Consigning your items on Facebook
Selling your items has become very popular in Facebook groups. If you do a search on “your town + yard sale” or different variations of that, you should be able to come up with some groups to join. Most of the same rules apply as above, but you won’t have to tag your items or split your profits.
But instead of tagging, you do have to photograph your items and post them. So, just like tagging, put your best foot forward. Referencing the garbage bag picture above, that is what NOT to do. In addition to not being able to tell what is in the bags, we cannot tell sizes, the condition of items…anything, really.
And, there is clutter in the background which just makes the picture look worse and even less appealing. Use bright light or outdoors. Be explicit in the description. On Facebook, you can get away with selling more damaged items, but price it accordingly and be honest. So, using my Keen shoe example from above. If I have a pair of Keens that are not in that great of condition, I can sell them, but would be honest with pictures and description, and might price them at $5 instead of $15. Who knows? A mom might just need them for a few months or something. Again, follow group rules and meet in a safe place.
Best Buys at a Consignment Sale
Consignment sales can be a place for some really AWESOME finds. Sometimes there are vintage toys, expensive shoes, soccer cleats, so many great buys.
There was a time when I was biased against used items. I mean, I would purchase and wear used items, but would never give one as a gift. My then 3-year-old changed my mind one time when he begged for a used bike that we saw in a consignment store. “But my birthday is next month!” he pleaded. Sold.
Since then, I have given my kids many used items as gifts, and they love them. At consignment sale prices, I am saving a ton of money. If your sale offers you pre-sale passes, use them! Because the good stuff goes first.
Have a list so that you’re not frazzled when you get there. Some things I look for almost every sale:
- cleats and other sports equipment
- vintage toys, discontinued and hard to find toys
- holiday outfits or nice sweaters for school pictures
- Snow pants and snow boots
- any kind of book
Wrapping up, the key is:
- desirable items
- good condition
- fair price
If you bring a load of those items to your local consignment sales, you are destined to rock it!