Thursday, May 15, 2014

My First Time Selling at a Kids Consignment Sale

About a year and a half ago, I wrote about my first time shopping at a kids consignment sale. They are held twice a year in my area, and I've now been to four rounds of sales. At the last one, I dipped my toes into the world of consigning myself, so I thought I'd share what I learned.

As Baby M has outgrown clothes and toys, I set aside the things I didn't like and didn't think I'd use with any future kids. (For me, this included infant gowns and anything with zippers. Also infant sized towels -big ones work much better!) I washed everything and tossed it in a box.

When it got close to sale time, maybe a month out, I sorted all the clothes by size and gender (we got some hand-me-downs from a boy cousin) and hung them on hangers. I also aggressively went through boxes, bins, drawers, and closets for other things to sell, like diaper bags (I bought two and was given one, but ended up using a swag bag from a conference), duplicate books or toys, feeding stuff, and nursing/pumping supplies.

The sales in my area are run by Just Between Friends, and they are impressively organized and efficient. They have a website where you can enter all your items, set prices, and print out tags with barcodes. I ordered a tagging gun from ebay so I didn't have to deal with a zillion safety pins.

In the space of a few naptimes, I had everything tagged. I took four boxes of stuff along with about 50 clothing items. I had three items rejected during the inspection process for stains that I had overlooked, but everything else was accepted. As a consignor, once your things are approved, you walk around the sales floor to put them out, which also gives you the chance to scope out what you'd like to buy when you come shopping.

The next day, I came to the consignor pre sale and got a few things I'd been wanting (a potty, some books, a few cute clothing items - I saved most of the clothes shopping for half-price day). However, I had more fun looking for the items I had left behind for sale and watching them get snapped up! It was fun to see people pick up my things right in front of me and put it in their baskets. Ca-ching!

As a consignor, you can choose whether to allow your items to be discounted half-price the final day of the sale, and whether or not you'll pick up the unsold items or donate them to charity. I discounted and donated all of my items because I didn't want anything back - and later I found out that doing this entitled me to a full refund of my consignor's fee! Some consignors don't do this, and I find that those people also tend to price their items a little higher than I want to pay, which is too bad. But I guess everyone's goal is different - mine is to get rid of stuff I don't want while making some money, but if the point is just to make money, then you'd do things different from me.

Anyway, I did go back on half-price day and got a bunch of cute stuff for Baby M in the next two sizes up. Between my two days of shopping I spent about $70 and got everything she'll need through winter. And when I got my consignment check back, I found that I made more than twice what I spent - $145! (Which includes my $12 consignor fee refund.) My goal was just to cover what I spent at the sale, so I feel like I did really well.

Here's what I learned for next time:
* Continue finding sale items as we outgrow clothes and toys. Goodwill clothing is often cheaper than what I pay at the sales, so I buy stuff there if I think it will sell at consignment. I also ask for hand-me-downs from friends with older kids - I do tell them that I plan to sell whatever we don't use. At this point I'm not interested in doing consignment work for anyone else, but if they don't care to make money on it, I'm happy to do so.

* Organize sale stuff as we go. Keep toys and clothes separate. Don't toss something on the pile that's stained; take care of it right away. The goal is to have nothing pulled when you bring in your items; this gives you "perfect consignor" status so that you don't have to wait in line at future sales.

* Price more aggressively. Most of my items sold but not everything, and in almost all of those cases I priced the item too high. I go to these sales to get bargains, so I need to price it with the value of what I'd pay for it, now what I hope to earn from it. (In almost every case where an item didn't sell, I looked up the value of the item brand new and priced it 50-70% off of that. I should have started with what I'd pay for something at Goodwill, and mark it up a little bit from there.

Overall, it was a great experience, and I will definitely be doing it again in the future - I expect to do this for years to come. I might use consignment stores as well, but for now the sales are my plan - selling and shopping only twice a year sounds like a good deal to me!

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