One of the growing trends on Facebook is Meet-Up groups. Someone lists something for sale and others can either claim it outright to purchase or bid on a item. The seller and buyer arrange to meet in a public place and exchange money for the purchased item. It’s a common way to sell furniture, clothing, housewares and just about anything else you can imagine.
Consignment sales, per the ConsignmentMommies.com dictionary, are typically a week or weekend long event where consignors sell their items and receive 50-80% of the final item price for sold items. Sales are generally run by an owner or organizer and can be “for profit” or as a fundraiser for a school, church or other organization. Consignors select which items to consign and set their own prices. Consignment sales reward consignors with an additional commission % on their sold items in exchange for volunteer hours worked.
There are differences and looking at the host website, you’ll probably guess that I’m going to spend this time encouraging you to do consignment sales and avoid meet-ups. You’re partially right. There are huge advantages to sales, but there are good things about meet-ups, too.
Let’s compare them.
For sellers: Because there are a lot of shoppers, you can prep your items, drop them off and not have to think about them again until it’s time to get your check or pick up what doesn’t sell. You don’t have to take photos, worrying about what’s in the background or if the picture will do your item justice. You can sell in a higher volume without keeping track of anything beyond the time you need to pick up on Saturday. Everything is anonymous and safe. You’re not meeting a stranger in parking lot or wondering if someone will show or if their check is any good. The advertising and organizing are done for you by someone else. All you have to do is get your things ready. You’ll get them all out of the house at once, which gives you a chance to keep order year-round.
For shoppers: At consignment sales, everything is grouped by category, size and gender. It’s easy to see if there are any problems with an item or if it will fit or have room to grow. There is no hiding any quality concerns when something is right in front of you. Again, there is a safety and security factor because you’re in a place with plenty of other people. Most sales accept cash, credit or debit and checks for payment, which means not making any special arrangements for payment. You don’t have to worry if something is going to be sold to someone else instead or if someone won’t show up. Sale owners put a lot of effort into making sure consignors show up with quality items. You can shop to your heart’s content with no rushing. You have a wide variety to shop from and no pressure to buy. There are many advantages to shopping with consignment sales!
For Sellers: Meet-ups are easy for people who don’t want to wait to clean out their household goods two or three times a year. You can list one thing at a time or create an album of several items to share on one or more groups. If you list on multiple groups, keep up with who is buying what. You’ll need to photograph your items, upload your photos, monitor the listing for a sale, confirm the sale & coordinate a pickup and then, attend that pickup. When participating in a sale group, make sure you know and follow all of the guidelines on what can be sold and how to do it. The only thing worse in those groups than promising something you can’t deliver backing out or not showing up as a buyer. You don’t want to be banned for breaking the rules. Be clear on your expectations of your sellers and honest about the quality of your items. Clear, detailed photos are a necessity.
For Buyers: Meet-ups are a good way to find niche items or things you need immediately. If your daughter comes home and needs a poodle skirt for a dance in three days, a ISO (In search of) post on a meet-up is your best bet to finding what you need right then. If you’re buying multiple items from different buyers, be aware of who you’re meeting when and what payments they accept. Cash is always best, but there’s also a factor of keeping yourself safe. Keep up with how much you’re promising to spend. It adds up quickly. Always take someone with you when meeting a stranger and make sure the meeting point is in a brightly light, safe location. Meet-ups are buyer beware. Not everyone is going to be honest about the condition of their items, if they smoke, if there are stains on a dress or other issues. Most people are clear with their answers, but some just want to make a quick sale.
You can use Facebook groups to your advantage as a consignment sale seller. Watch for items that can boost your own consignment sale profits, like good quality, name brand boys’ clothing, baby gear, toys, children’s electronics. If someone is selling nursery items, ask if they have other things you could purchase. You might even be able to negotiate some great deals. Always keep your own safety at the forefront when meeting anyone you don’t know.
- Side Note: Avoid purchasing cribs and carseats in online groups. Cribs that were manufactured before June 28, 2011 are illegal for anyone to resell unless the seller has a compliance certificate that the crib meets the new safety standards. Check www.wemakeitsafer.com for recalls on any toys, baby items and household goods you are interested in buying.
- Purchasing a used car seat is always a tough decision, but most consignment sales have a safety checklist they follow and check for expired car seats and excessive wear. Those details are hard to see in a photo and the person selling may not know the full history of the car seat. It’s always better to be safe than sorry with these items. Buy them new or from a trusted reseller, like your favorite consignment sale. It’s just not worth putting your child’s safety at risk to save a little money.
For Sale Owners: Sale owners can even contact group administrators to see if you can share information about your sale in exchange for a pre-sale pass. The worst answer you’ll hear is no, but often times, administrators are happy for you to share information about your consignment sale on their groups. Just don’t spam a group with too many posts. It’s also a way to search for high-demand items for your shoppers.
All in all, there are advantages and disadvantages to both ways of buying and selling. In the end, there is something really fun about the consignment sale experience that’s like nothing else, from the treasure hunt of searching for items on your list to taking a photo of everything you bought for your family while staying under budget. Facebook groups may come and go, but I think consignment sales are here to stay!
About the Author
Elizabeth Renfroe has a passion for all things consignment sale-related. She enjoys coordinating the Children’s Market Sale at First United Methodist Church, Jacksonville, Alabama.