Guest Post: Kiddie Consignment Sale Shopping Secrets

The first of the spring kiddie consignment sales have arrived! Spring consignment sales are a great place to get started with your baby preparations. You’ll find spring and summer clothing items like tees and shorts and sundresses. Baby gear, too–everything from bibs to baby gates.

In today’s guest post, BC reader and experienced consignment sale shopper Corrie tells you how to find the sales and how to make the most of them:

I am a die-hard consignment sale junkie. If I had it my way, I’d go to each one in my community. But, with limited time, I stick to my favorites. My son is dressed in Baby Gap, Children’s Place, and Gymboree at never more than a few bucks an item. I hope these shopping tips will help you navigate your first sale.

How to find the sales:

  • Understand the format. Most have specific rules about what can be sold (clothing must be below a certain size, no stuffed animals, etc.). It is not worth it to pay the entry fee if they aren’t selling what you need. Some sales will mix all consignors items together (my preferred style) and some will have each consignor host their own table.
  • Consider joining the sponsoring organization. Members often get in free or pay discounted admission. Your membership may cover the cost of your admission and/or give you the ability to shop earlier than the general public. Alternatively, consider volunteering for the event. You might be given free admission, early shopping privileges, or at least a sneak peak of what people are selling.

When to shop

  • If you are planning to buy a lot or have a very specific item in mind, pay the early-bird fee to have access to the most items.
  • If you are a cheepie, come at the end of the sale. Prices are generally slashed 30% to 50%. (less selection, but great deals).

Tips for Successful Shopping

  • Leave the kiddos at home. These events are often crowded with little room to maneuver around, even with a small umbrella stroller. Hot, stuffy gyms are not a good combination with the under five age group! [Note: Check the listing: kids and/or strollers may be excluded on the first day of the sale.]
  • Bring your own bags. I bring reusable grocery bags and also a messenger bag that I can put over my shoulder. Some sellers will offer bags, but they are usually the cheap grocery store variety.
  • Make a checklist of items you want. This helps you to remember the off-the-wall things you might be looking for.
  • Go for the big ticket, bulky items first (pack n plays, strollers, larger toys). Since there are fewer of these items, they go quickly. I suggest addressing this first, and running to your car with the items. Some place will have a holding area for this stuff too.
  • Know the going price for these items (new and used). You don’t want to over-pay! If I have a bigger ticket item I am seeking, I scope out craigslist before. I typically target 1/3rd of retail for gear. I usually target under $1.00 – $3.00 per clothing item. I will pay up to $5.00 per item, if it is a coveted name brand (Gymbo, Baby Gap).
  • Bring CASH! – accepting checks is unusual, credit cards are unheard of.
  • Know your kids’ sizes and be prepared to buy up in sizes. Since clothing is so variable, I cut a ribbon to match the inseam on my son’s pants. It is easy to carry around. I don’t worry about tops as much because they are more forgiving if they are a little small or big.
  • Look things over. In my neighborhood, one sale in particular is known for problem items. Broken zippers, stains, etc.

A Couple of Caveats

  • Word of warning to the moms of boys: people buy fewer clothes for their sons, and once you get above a size 2, it is well-loved. A few exceptions are seasonal items that aren’t frequently worn, such as dress clothes and outerwear.
  • Don’t buy used car seats/boosters. Yes – they will sell them even though they shouldn’t. They could be expired, in an accident, or just not properly cared for. Take all the money you saved from your other purchases and buy a cheap new seat, like Angie’s beloved Cosco Scenera.

Happy shopping folks!

Photo: Solon Council of PTA’s Budget Bin –A local sale where Corrie has been a consignor and shopper.

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