|Audrey Sporting a Consignment Hat, Skirt and Shoes|
Spring is right around the corner and what a welcome change it brings! One thing I really look forward to with each change of season is new clothes for the kids since they outgrow everything every year. Although it is fun to buy new (or new to you) clothes, an entirely new wardrobe for little people can cost a fortune! The twice a year overhaul of clothing for each child can really get out of hand, especially if you gravitate towards brand name clothing and shoes.
In light of this, I have found my new obsession- Consignment Sales! I have been shopping various sales over the past 4 or 5 years and have learned some lessons along the way. I have more than once ended up with a closet full of clothes with very few "cute" outfits to make from it all. I have gotten home with something that should fit my child only to discover that this particular brand (Kissy Kissy or Ralph Lauren for instance) runs a good size smaller than most. And the mistake I have made most often is failure to take inventory of things that do still fit or things that were purchased ahead of time to know what is needed and what would be a waste of money.
So here are a few tips from my lessons learned that I hope can help you make the most of Consignment sales! To find consignment sales in your area check out consignmentmommies.com. Happy Shopping!
- Have a plan:
- As I mentioned above, inventory what you have. A good time to do this is when you sort through clothes to find any that you can consign, separate all the clothes that might work for the upcoming season. Have your child try on anything that you are unsure about and make note of anything that is needed in order to create outfits. Note what size shoes they will need also and when in doubt buy slightly bigger than you think you will need. Most consignment sales are held a few months before the seasons change and children grow fast so make sure you are looking for things that will fit all season long.
- Evaluate what items of clothing and shoes your child really needs based on how you live- and be honest with yourself. I know I usually end up with too many dressy clothes with few opportunities for them to be worn. I usually don't have enough play clothes for my girls that they can get messy in without me stressing. Looking ahead to a summer full of outside play, homemade popsicles and messy crafts I know I need to look for more clothes that fit well but aren't anything too fancy.
- Do your homework. Check online auction sites and retailers that you buy from to know what prices are acceptable for the clothes and toys that you will be searching for as well as for help pricing what you are selling. A fair sale price increases your odds of getting a little money for something and not having to see it again! When shopping and trying to make lots of decisions it is important to know the going rate for things so you don't end up getting ripped off. It can seem like something is a deal but it is really being sold for close to the retail price. I see this a lot with brands like Circo and Cherokee that start out pretty inexpensive to begin with and are often being sold for 75% of the original price. This kind of preparation is especially helpful if you are looking for a particular item like a jogging stroller or specific toy- you want to know if you are getting a fair price. Consignment is final sale so you want to make sure you don't leave with any buyers remorse!
- Know the specifics of each sale before you go or consign. Most sales have info available online such as payment methods they accept, whether or not they allow children to attend, and specifics on their consignment policies.
- Shop Early: To avoid missing out on all the best deals, consider consigning or volunteering to earn a presale pass.
- Consign any items that you don't love or use. Just be honest with yourself! If you rarely reached for it amid all your other choices of clothes you probably won't miss it. You would be better off with a few dollars in your pocket and space in the closet. By consigning you will earn money and more importantly, you will get a pass to shop at the consignor presale.
- If you are going to shop a sale that you know is excellent (large number of participants, upscale items) you may consider signing up to volunteer. Volunteers get to shop first (usually before the consignors) and that is certainly worth your time if it is a great sale and you have arrangements for childcare.
- If you are new to the mommy thing you can usually shop early also at a special time set aside for first time moms. This is usually after the volunteers and consignors but still before the public sale.
- At the sale:
- You may want to bring a laundry basket or rolling tote if you are planning to buy a lot or are buying bulky items.
- Shop in order of importance to you. Large items go first. If you are looking for that double jogging stroller or ride on toy look for it first! Chances are lots of other moms are looking for the same thing so you want to be quick! Some sales have you bring large items to be held at the front, others ask you to just remove the tag for purchase so it is good to find out ahead of time or ask a volunteer. Next, items such as electronics that are pricy and really worth buying second hand should be what you look for before heading to the shoes and clothes. I start out in the size that my oldest will need since her little sister mostly wears hand me downs. I also look through the next 2 or 3 sizes for her and grab anything that I will be glad to have stashed away for the future. I just grab anything that looks like a possibility and then spend time before checking out examining everything and deciding what to discard. Some sales have such long lines that there is plenty of time for this in line. Often times there will be discard racks near the checkout to place things as you change your mind- this is also a great place to find something you might not have seen before. Last week I found a beautiful Baby Lulu dress with legging in excellent condition for $3 on the discard rack!
- Inspect everything! It can be hard in gymnasium or warehouse lighting, but do your best to look for stains and holes. For baby clothes look closely for yellowing near the neck and diaper leak stains too! For older children look closely at the knees for wear or grass stains.
- Listen to your intuition. I usually regret the purchases that I went ahead and made despite being a little unsure. That seems obvious, but I often feel like I need to get something in order to not regret missing out. Go with what your gut is telling you! And if you do make a buying mistake, make a note of what you paid and set it aside to consign next time. Chances are you will be able to get your money back.