We’ve all heard it before: Having kids costs a small fortune. They seem to outgrow clothes and toys faster than you can buy them!
When I confronted the mountain of outgrown items in my basement, I decided to try out an increasingly popular money-making idea: children’s consignment sales.
These sales differ from traditional consignment shops in that they usually happen two or three times per year in a given community, and they allow sellers to keep a larger portion of their total sales. To find one near you, simply Google “[your city] + children’s consignment sale.”
I learned a lot from my first two children’s consignment sales. Here’s what to do beforehand to help you make the most money on the day.
1. Consider How Much You Have to Sell
Before committing to a sale, make sure you have enough merchandise to make it worth your time. I had 144 items to sell, including clothes, toys sporting equipment and books. For a previous sale, I had more 300 pieces. Because I had so many items, I could predict a decent return on my time.
If you have fewer items, consider looking for a Facebook garage sale group in your area. As a bonus, you’ll get to keep all the proceeds.
2. Begin Preparing Well in Advance
Most sales will only consider items in good to excellent condition. This means no stains, missing buttons or pilling, so check your items to see whether you need to do a quick DIY repair or once-over with a fabric shaver.
You’ll usually need to wash, iron and hang your items on hangers. In fact, some sales even require the clothing to face a certain direction on the hanger!
I had a great deal of clothing to sell, so I started ironing and hanging on the weekends leading up to the sale. Each piece took 10-15 minutes to iron, hang and tag with my desired price, which my sale required. Because I consigned almost 150 pieces of clothing, this preparation time was critical.
3. Follow the Rules
Remember that whole hanger/direction thing I mentioned? I saw people turned away for failing to hang their items correctly! Another woman was turned away because she did not have her items sorted by both size and gender.
They were also turned away for not listing a brand name when tagging their items, not cleaning items properly, or trying to sell items the sale did not allow.
Used mattresses are one big no-no. I saw a family bring in three and heard them explain they had cleaned them well. However, the rules clearly state what can and cannot be sold, and some sales have a certain focus: clothing only, or infant/toddler items only.
Stick to the rules. The people running these sales usually take them very seriously.
4. Look for Ways to Raise Your Commissions
I found a sale that offered 60% commission, which is pretty high. Others can be as low as 40% of sales. Look for the sale that gives you the best return on your time and your items’ value.
My most recent sale also gave sellers the opportunity to increase their earnings by volunteering. The more hours you volunteered, the higher the commission you earned. While I didn’t participate (mostly because I had already spent enough time working on my items), volunteers could earn up to 75% of their sales depending how much time they offered.
5. Look for Savings, Too
Getting rid of my own unused items was certainly my main goal. However, I also looked for ways to save money on my own purchases.
Because I was a registered seller, I got into the presale for free and had my pick of all the items before the general public. I purchased a total of 12 brand-name outfits plus three pairs of shoes for about $70. That’s a fraction of what I would have spent had I purchased these items new.
Are Consignment Sales Worth It?
It does take a lot of time to prepare, but if you have a lot of items to sell, you can do alright. At my most recent sale, I sold 52% of the items I prepared, earning $176.55. At the previous sale, I made about $275.
Your Turn: Do you sell your kids’ old clothes, shoes and sports gear at consignment sales? How do you prepare?
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Odelle Wells was a teacher for more than 15 years before becoming a stay-at-home mom, a frugal spender and an obsessive penny-pincher. In between raising three girls, she combs the sale flyers and plans meals to keep her family’s grocery budget at $135 a week, works odd jobs and pockets spare change to try to save up for her dream vacation at Disney World.