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Finding Treasure: A Strategic Plan for Shopping this Spring Season

By: Deborah Freeman, Just Between Friends Douglas County
Even if it’s your first sale, you’ll feel like a pro with these tips!

Prep: Shopping always goes smoothest if you prepare yourself ahead of time. Here’s what works for me.

  1. 1.   Get the largest and sturdiest laundry basket in your house. Tie a belt to the handle so it will be easy to pull. (If you have a dog leash that will also work.) Now when you’re shopping, you can put your clothes basket down at a rack and pull it around w/o having to carry it on your hip.  Also be sure to take advantage of the hold area.  Many events will hold your items up to an hour!
  2. 2.   Grab some string and construction paper. Trace your kids’ feet onto a piece of cardstock or construction paper and then cut it out. Write their name on the “foot”.  Tie a piece of string to the foot, and then take the string and cut it to the length of your child’s inseam.  Now you have important measurements for each child.  You can also write on each foot what specific items you are looking for. This is info that is easy to forget when you’re looking through racks and racks of clothes, and then you’ll get home and realize you forgot to get your daughter summer hats, etc.
  3. 3.   Wear comfortable shoes and bring a water bottle and a snack. There is a lot to see and look through at the sale.  Think of the sale as all of your favorite brands and stores all under one roof.  Instead of numerous trips to the mall you can get what you want at the prices you really want.  Plan to spend time at the sale, so plan to be comfortable bring a snack and bottled water.
  4. 4.   Find a sitter! Even if you have an older child, it is near to impossible to successfully consignment shop if you have kids with you. And, it can get really crowded in a consignment sale, making it hard to keep up with kids who are walking.

Shopping the Sale: Approach a consignment sale strategically, and you’ll find what you need without getting overwhelmed.

1.   Strollers/Baby Equipment/Furniture is your first stop if you are in need of a new car seat or other piece of equipment.  At most sales, you can pay for large equipment separate, and they will put a sold tag on it for you while you shop the rest of the sale.

2.   After equipment, shop the shoes first. If you’re looking for shoes, especially in the larger sizes, hit that section right away. Kids can wear shoes out fast, and there is usually a smaller selection of shoes than clothing.  Don’t forget to use your footprint cut-outs to make sure shoes will fit!  I also buy at least one pair of shoes a size bigger, for the growth spurt that inevitably hits mid-way through the season.

3.   Boys’ clothes after shoes. I’m not sure if it’s because boys are harder on their clothes, or because there is just less variety in boys’ clothes, but there are always fewer boy racks, and the boy clothes are often priced higher. Hit those before the girls’ so you can find the better clothes and better bargains.

4.   Re-evaluate your picks before heading to the next section. Sometimes, when I’m in a shopping frenzy, I will pull way too much stuff off the rack. By going through my choices before heading out of the boys’ section, I can weed out some of the more questionable items.

5.   Be careful in the girls’ section! The girls’ section of consignment sales is some kind of shopping cryptonite. There are too many cute things on the rack, and I often find myself pulling things off the rack my daughters don’t need. One, maybe two, fancy dresses per season is all most little girls will need. If you have an older girl, remember her preferences too.

6.   Don’t forget accessories like socks, hats, etc. Check the end caps of the racks for accessories such as socks, hats, bows, backpacks etc. Last year I bought my daughter a gallon bag filled w/ Gymboree hair-bows and clips for $2. Awesomeness!

7.   Save toys and books for last, and be discriminating. The toy section can be overwhelming, to say the least. Head into it with specific ideas for your kids.  You can find some great deals on books, so save some energy to refresh your child’s library.

Now that you’ve got a PLAN, get ready to find some incredible bargains for your family!  Happy shopping.