Consignment shopping is a wonderful resource for parents. I began shopping at consignment sales in 1989 when my oldest daughter was born. At that time, I knew of probably five such sales in the area where I lived. Since then, the number of consignment sales has exploded. There are over 100 sales in metro Atlanta now. I've also discovered that these sales are rather unique to this area. Other cities have them, but not in the quantity or quality that we have here. We are blessed to have this resource, and I'm happy to share this information with you!
What are seasonal children's consignment sales?
A children's consignment sale is an organized event in which an individual or group of individuals provides a service for those wishing to sell their used clothing, toys, equipment and maternity clothes. The sale organizer or organization earns between 20-40% of the proceeds, and the seller receives between 60-80%.
In the metro Atlanta area, these sales are usually held on weekends twice a year, once in the spring (February-April) and again in the fall (August-October). Churches, women's organizations, clubs and individuals host the sales. They may be located in school gymnasiums, church fellowship halls, community centers, or garages. The size of the sale may vary from 20 participants to over 400.
Items for sale usually include children's clothing from size newborn to pre-teen, maternity clothing, toys, baby equipment, books, videos and just about anything related to rearing children in today's world.
Prices are reasonable, but higher than garage sales. Most often they range between 30-50% of the original price of the item. Item prices are non-negotiable, but most sales offer a half-price day at the end of the sale.
Who can participate?
With over 100 consignment sales in the Atlanta area, almost anyone who is interested can find a sale in which to participate. Most sales allow anyone who has a set number of qualified items (usually 25 +) to take part. Each sale has a certain number of sellers admitted, so it pays to sign up early. A seller fee is usually required ($5.00 on up), and a percentage of the proceeds will be deducted from your total sales at the end of the sale.
What is required?
After deciding upon which sale to consign with, you should get in touch with the appropriate contact person. Almost all sales require you to prepare your own items for sale. They will give you a seller number and explicit instructions regarding how your items are to be prepared. This includes washing, hanging, tagging and pricing your clothing, toys and equipment in advance according to specifications given to you. You will also be given a designated "drop-off" time and location.
Are there any restrictions?
Since the sales are held twice yearly, they are usually seasonal in nature. Most sale organizers only want spring and summer clothing (including shorts, bathing suits, etc.) for the spring-summer sales, and fall and winter clothing (including sweaters, jackets, gloves, etc.) for the fall-winter sales.
Also, some sales have restrictions regarding shoes, stuffed animals, underwear, and larger size (junior-teen) clothing. Be sure you know what will be accepted before you start tagging!
Most sale organizers reserve the right to sort through your items before placing them for sale. Due to the competing number of consignment sales available, sale organizers are looking for the best quality items in order to attract a following of shoppers each season. Don't be offended if some of your items are rejected due to being torn, stained, out-of-date or out-of-season. Sale organizers are just protecting the reputation of their sale, which will benefit you in the long run.
Are there any incentives?
Many sale organizers are now offering incentives to consignors in order to stay competitive in this market. You actually have a valuable commodity in your clothing, toys and equipment. Without it, there would be no consignment sales. Your merchandise is needed, and sale organizers are willing to make it worth your while.
Check around and see what the various sales are offering. For instance, some sales offer differing rates of return on your merchandise. The standard split is 70/30, but some sales have gone to 80/20. Other sales offer even more if you are willing to volunteer to work a shift at the sale. Others are offering referral bonuses. If you refer a friend that consigns with them, they may offer cash or a shopping credit to you.
Almost all sales offer an exclusive consignor's pre-shopping event. That means that if you consign with their sale, you will be able to shop before the sale is open to the public.
What are the benefits of consigning?
There are many benefits to participating in consignment sales.
De-cluttering & Recycling: Twice a year you can go through the mountain of clothing, toys and equipment that accumulate in your home and get rid of the excess. I'm sure we all agree that most of our children have more than they need. Sorting through their belongings twice a year helps keep your home free of outgrown, broken, unused items that clutter and detract your children from enjoying what is truly good and useful. It also helps the environment because you are recycling resources rather than throwing them away.
Income: Another benefit is the income from the sale. This is especially useful to stay-at-home moms. You'll be surprised how quickly your items will add up. If you sell $200 worth of clothing, toys and equipment, you could earn about $140. Consider also that you can purchase needed items at the sale, and thus save even more. I've been doing this for over twelve years now, and it is amazing how you can stretch your clothing budget in this way.
Pre-Shopping: As a consignor, you will be able to shop before the public is admitted. This is one of the nicest benefits of consigning. The best quality, name-brand items are available at the beginning of the sale. Once a large group of shoppers has gone through, they glean many of the best items. There will still be some great buys for the public, but the selection will have diminished somewhat.
Charity: Many of the sales give a portion or all of their proceeds to benefit good causes. And consider that you as a seller can also play a charitable role by contributing merchandise for sale at a reasonable price. It's hard to make it financially in this demanding world, and you are benefiting those who are trying to provide for their children's needs within a limited budget.
Fun: Consignment shopping is a great excuse for busy moms to get together with friends. When our children were small, my friends and I hired babysitters and took the morning off to go consignment shopping. Afterward, we'd go out for lunch and share our "best buys" of the day. Each season we would map out a plan of attack, checking to see when our favorite sales would take place and make our plans accordingly. That is actually how The Bargain Watcher came in to being. One thing led to another, and now, several years later, here we are!
What supplies will I need?
If you plan on consigning from season to season, here are a few supplies you might want to keep on hand:
- Clothing racks - You can buy inexpensive racks at K-Mart, Walmart, Target, etc. They can be dismantled and stored when not in use. One per child would be helpful. Want something sturdier?
- Hangers - Ask for unused hangers at local stores. Friends are also a good resource, and your local drycleaner is another.
- Safety Pins - any size except the tiny gold kind. These can be purchased at The Dollar Store, or you may be able to get some from your drycleaner.
- Zip-loc bags - assorted sizes (Be sure to get some of the largest (2 gallon?) size. They are harder to find, but very useful for bulky items.
- Masking tape - Use masking tape when needed, because it is stronger than scotch tape, but not as sticky and hard to manage as packing tape.
- Index Cards - some sales use these as tags when cut in half or fourths.
- Old Sale Flyers, Catalogs, etc. - I save a few Christmas toy catalogs and sale flyers in the box with my consignment supplies. When the time comes to price toys, equipment, etc., I can research the original cost. You can also cut the picture (with price) out of the catalog and tape it to the item. This really helps shoppers who wonder how much an item would cost them new. You can also research prices on-line through toy store websites, etc.
How do I get ready for a sale?
1. Find a space where you can spread out and spend several days working on this venture. Prepare your spouse - things get worse before they get better! It will look like a tornado has hit for a week or two.
2. Dig in. Start by going through your children's bedrooms. Open closets, drawers, toy boxes, etc. and go through bookshelves to pull out items that they have outgrown or no longer enjoy. Don't forget such items as bath toys in the bathroom; bottles, cups, character dishes in the kitchen; kid's bedding items in the linen closet, and bikes, skates, pool items, etc. in the garage.
3. Wash and hang clothing. Most sales require that clothes be hung on hangers, with clothing item facing you and hanger looking like a question mark --?
4. Check your items to make sure they are free of stains and tears, have working zippers, snaps and closures. Items sell better when they look as near to new as possible. Take time to wash and iron as many items as you can, they will look much more attractive to potential buyers.
5. Package your items. Sales have differing specifications about how to package your toys, books, shoes and layette items, so I won't go into detail here. Just make sure that you secure items so that pieces that belong together stay together. One side note here: It’s not fair to package a game, toy or piece of equipment that is missing pieces or instructions without informing the buyer on your sale tag. You should also decrease the price accordingly. It’s very disappointing to pay for an item believing it includes everything, only to get home and discover something is missing. Remember the golden rule you learned as children - “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!”
6. Re-call info. Check your toys and equipment to see if they have been recalled. Call
Auto Safety Hot Line at 888/DASH-2-DOT or go to www.cpsc.gov/index.html for Consumer Product Safety Commission Recalls.
7. Tag your items. Some sales provide tag templates that you copy, others require that you use index cards. Clothing tags are safety-pinned to top right hand side of item if it is facing you. Tags on toys, equipment, etc. are usually taped on. Most sales require the following information to be on your tag:
· · Seller Number
· · Item Description
· · Size - True sizes only - not S, M, L. It is helpful to put the size that the item actually fits, if not true to size.
· · Price
· · Reduction Code - Some sales offer a reduction period or day. You may be asked write a code on your tag indicating your willingness to sell the item for less than full price.
8. Price your items. Generally, items sell for about 1/4 to 1/3 of original price, depending on condition. If it is a name-brand, top-quality item, it could go for 1/2. Remember, these are USED items. Ask yourself honestly, "What would I pay for this item?" Almost every sale requires that pricing be done in evenly spaced increments of no less than 25 cents.
9. Sort your clothing by gender, size and/or item type before taking them to drop off at the sale. Most sales require that you have all items pre-sorted at check-in. Read your seller instructions carefully. Some sales require that you keep an inventory sheet that corresponds to your tags.
10. Drop off your items and get ready to pre-shop! Remember to pick up unsold items at your designated pick-up time at the end of the sale, or else they will most likely be donated to charity.
I hope you have a great consignment experience. If you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to e-mail me!