It’s that time of year again…kids consignment sales are popping up all around my neck of the woods. I love these sales because it means that I can get clothes, books & toys for my daughter at a fraction of the retail prices in usually nearly new condition. And it means my clients can clear out some of their unwanted items! From a Professional Organizer’s perspective, consigning can be a great way to declutter but only if you do it right and follow through. I can’t tell you how many partially started consignment projects I’ve come across in client’s homes – the best of intentions but they get stopped somewhere in the process and the things pile up. Don’t let that happen to you!
There are definite benefits to consigning:
- Most sales offer the chance to get in before the regular buyers so you get first dibs
- You can clean out closets & playrooms making space for new things as your child grows & changes
- You can make some good money off of things that may have just been tossed or donated.
So with this in mind….here’s my top 10 tips for making the most out of consigning:
1. Find a Sale
Find a sale that works for you based on location, timing and policies. Read the policies VERY carefully to make sure that you clearly understand how they run the sale, how much you receive, what items they accept and what happens to things that don’t sell. I usually feel more comfortable at a sale that I’ve shopped at so I have a better idea of the market and how items are merchandised.
2. Prepare Your Items
Prepare your items by gathering them all in one place (a guest room or the garage or someplace where things can stay undisturbed for a bit – a sort of ‘staging area’), making sure each is in excellent condition. Check clothing for stains or tears, sanitize toys, check books for missing pages or markings and be sure all parts are with games & puzzles, etc. Check all pockets for random objects and wash clothing in fragrance free detergents.
3. Choose Your Items
Choose your items according to season & marketability. Most consignment sales happen twice a year or sometimes quarterly, and they only want items for the upcoming season. This may not be an issue in some climates but around here, the February/March sales are spring & summer items. The August sales are when the school & winter clothes show up. Toys and styles that are popular will sell better than those from seasons past.
4. Gather Your Materials
Gather your materials that you need to get items ready to take to the sale according to the policies and requirements of the sale you’ve chosen. Be sure you follow their rules or you may not find yourself welcome again! For most sales, here’s a general list of what you may need:
- Hanging clothes rack
- Laundry basket or plastic bins for toys & accessories
- Wire hangers (start collecting those dry cleaners hangers and ask your friends for theirs!)
- Index cards
- Safety pins
- Packing tape
- Ziploc bags (I like the freezer bags as they are more durable)
5. Use Your Materials Effectively
Use your materials effectively. Many sales will provide bar codes on their websites to print up and use when tagging your merchandise. Most sales I’ve done have you put the codes (either bar code or your consigner ID number or other identifying information) on an index card that gets pinned or taped to the item. Packing tape works much better than scotch tape as holds up better. Ziploc bags keep little items together such as Polly Pockets, hair bows, or Matchbox cars). Use large safety pins as they are easier on the fingers. Secure clothing with safety pins to the hangers in at least two places. Items will stay on hangers until the first shopper comes along and you don’t want your things crumpled on the floor.
6. Be realistic about pricing.
Be realistic about pricing. Visit other sales, consignment stores, etc. to get a sense of the going prices. Have a pretty good idea of what you would pay for something at one of these sales and price accordingly. Generally 1/4-1/3 of the retail is a good rule of thumb, but that doesn’t always work for really expensive items, even boutique or high end brands. People will pay more for these so you can go a bit higher – people are pretty brand conscious these days – but not too high.
7. Combine items
Combine items when selling if appropriate. Don’t have too many items together but pairing a dress with tights or gym shorts with a hoodie can work really well. A series of books packaged together in a Ziploc bag, a matching set of hat/gloves/scarf, or a Littlest Pet Shop play house with a few pets included will most likely sell better than individual items by themselves.
8. Don’t be emotionally attached
Don’t be emotionally attached to the items you are selling. Just because you loved it, doesn’t mean that anyone else will care. Price it as if you’ve never seen it before and ask yourself what you would realistically pay for it.
9. Start early!
Start early! Don’t wait til the last minute to decide you want to do this. It’s fairly labor intensive if you decide to consign a lot of items (and many sales have a minimum number they will accept). Scrambling at the end just causes a lot of stress and potential for error.
10. Evaluate after the sale
Evaluate after the sale. If items didn’t sell, there could be several reasons. Maybe they were priced too high. One way you can tell is that most sales have a half price day. If most of your items sold on that day – it may mean you over priced. Maybe you consigned the wrong items. If everything sold except the sports equipment – then perhaps it’s not a good market for that type of item. Maybe they weren’t packaged attractively or appeared shabby. People want items that look as new as possible. What happens at this sale will help you do better at the next one!
You may have your own ideas about how to consign – this is definitely not an exclusive list – but should give you a start if you are thinking of dipping your toe into consigning! Some sales worth visiting in the Nashville/Franklin, TN area include Encores Consignment Sale (this one is huge and very well organized), Little Sprouts (smaller sale but nice items), Monkey Business (generally higher end & boutique brands held in Westhaven), and Reruns are Fun! (held in the Factory).
Liz Jenkins is a Certified Professional Organizer in the Nashville, TN area and owner of A Fresh Space. You can find more information at her website AFreshSpace.com, facebook, or twitter. Liz specializes in residential organizing, home offices and small businesses, working with frazzled families and those having children with special needs, and helping people declutter, simplify and rightsize their lives.