Do you remember the story about the cobbler’s children having no shoes because he’s busy making everyone else’s? Time got away from him. I am the modern day consignment sale cobbler. My phone’s calendar already has the dates for the next four Children’s Market sales. There is no excuse for me to never be ready for a sale, yet it happens every single time. I make plans, I have goals. I get busy. Here is what you can learn from my bad habits.
1. Don’t wait until the last minute to start getting ready.
Sale owners across the country tell us that around 50% of their inventory entered online is completed in the last 48 hours before deadlines. That doesn’t include any sales with handwritten tags. If you’re down to the wire, focus on your big ticket items first, baby gear, toys, furniture, etc. They take less time to tag and have a great return on investment. From there, focus on the clothes. Check them well for any issues. Skip the problems and focus on what’s most profitable to prep and tag, like better brands or current styles. If you don’t get all of the clothes tagged, put them up for next year.
Confession #1: I’ve been known to grab a couple of our college students to tag my things in the parking lot while I’m working at the sale. You can’t be worse than that!
2. Read the directions.
We have a team of volunteers who plan and organize our church’s sale. I’m the team leader, responsible for updating the consignor packet with any changes. Guess who forgot how many shoes I could consign last time? This girl! Almost every sale requires clothes to be hung with the hanger pointing to the left, like a question mark. Tags are usually placed to the right side of the garment, either on the upper right side if using safety pins or in the seam or label with tagging guns. Other than those two things, every sale may have different guidelines.
Always read your directions before you start prepping. If you miss something, like your baby clothes are sorted by size, see if you can fix the problem and bring things back later. Organizers want you to do well at their sale – consigning is a team sport! Most will work with you to make sure your items get on the floor. (Kindness works wonders in this type of situation!) If something cannot be fixed in time, take it home and work on it for next time.
3. Quality Control
You washed, ironed and tagged those shorts, but never noticed the huge hole in the seat until someone showed you at drop-off. It happens to just about everyone. Accept it with a grain of salt and know you’re not the first. If you’re getting back a higher percentage of rejected items than you expected, take a hard look at the quality of what you’re bringing or check out the lighting in your home. Could you tag in a better lit room? The most common reasons for rejected baby and toddler clothes are formula stains and excessive wear and these will look different in dim dining rooms vs. well-lit consignment sale venues. Pay attention and learn from your experience for next season. Check our list of top laundry treatments for stain removal tips!
Confession #3: I missed the Cheetos and Coke stains on my daughter’s light blue dress when I washed it, steamed it and tagged it. We have big windows in our check-in area, which show a lot of stains missed in household light. Open the windows and let the light in when you’re checking for stains. You’ll be surprised at what shows up with the help of a little sunshine.
4. Recalled Items
“We’re sorry, but this high chair has been recalled.” With thousands of items being recalled in the lifespan of one child, it is almost impossible to catch every single item that has been recalled. Although it’s the consignor’s responsibility to check their items for issues before consigning anything, many sales use apps like WeMakeItSafer and recall notebooks to double-check their inventory for recalls and safety issues. Did you know you can register all of your baby gear, toys and household goods with www.wemakeitsafer.com? You’ll receive an alert if anything you register is recalled. It’s a small investment to keep your kids safe. Bonus: You’ll know you can consign stuff they’ve outgrown before you take the time to clean up and tag it all.
5. Stuff Happens
Children get sick, extra work lands on your desk and life gets in the way. If it comes down to the wire and you just can’t get everything together, it’s okay. People will understand. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind in this situation:
- a. Let your sale owner know, whether it’s via phone, unregistering for the sale or just sending a quick email. Many sales limit the number of consignors and have a waiting list. If things aren’t working, back out with enough time to let someone else take your spot.
- b. Check to see if you can still volunteer. We all love our volunteers and can’t keep things running smoothly without them. If you’re still interested in shopping early, ask if you can help at the sale. Did you already sign up? Don’t bail on your shifts just because you didn’t consign. It’s hard to fill those last minute vacancies and many sales have added penalties for ditching your shift. If you just can’t be there, find a replacement or give enough notice. The worst thing to do is to just not show up at all.
See, I told you. I am pretty sure I’m the worst consignor ever. None of us are perfect, especially when it comes to the consignment sale game. If something goes wrong, I promise you weren’t the first one with that issue. Lessons learned when you think you must be the worst consignor ever will make you an even better Consignment Mommy in the long run.
It’s only July and my tagging is about 70% of the way finished. It’s a new record for me. See, even old consignors can break bad habits. Happy Consigning!
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.