Intrigued by the idea of utilizing a tagging gun for your consignment sale prep but unsure where to start?
Why Use a Tagging Gun?
• It’s faster than pinning tags onto items
• Tags connected to items with barbs tend to stay put. The use of tagging guns is standard in the retail clothing industry.
• In the long-run plastic fasteners (barbs) are much cheaper to purchase than safety pins
• It helps protect your items from theft at the sale; tag switching is a common practice among consignment sale thieves. Tags fastened with barbs provide more of an obstacle than merely unpinning and re-pinning tags.
#1 – Choose the Right Gun
All Tagging Guns are not created equal! Tagging guns come in a Standard, as well as Fine Fabric style. Your choice of tagging gun will determine the type of needles and barbs (fasteners) that you’ll use, as the supplies are not interchangeable.
• Standard guns use standard needles and barbs and are often used for thicker, heavier fabrics (like denim).
• Fine Fabric guns use fine fabric needles which are 50% smaller in diameter and ¼” shorter than the standard guns and fine fabric barbs. Smaller needles make smaller holes and reduce the change of damaging your items.
I use an Avery Dennison Mark III Fine Fabric Tagging Gun, which uses Fine Fabric Needles. It can be purchased as a kit, including extra fine fabric needles and 1,000 Barbs for around $20.00. When considering replacement needles, you generally get what you pay for. Bargain needles tend to be less sturdy and have a shorter life than name-brand ones.
#2 – Have Extra Needles on Hand
It’s wise to have some extra brand-name needles on-hand; needles dull with use over time and sometimes end up bent if you’ve been tagging through lots of heavy fabrics. Tagging guns and their associated supplies can easily be purchased online, from Amazon to Ebay.
#3 – Choose the Correct Fastener Size
Barbs come in many sizes, such as ¾”, 1”, 2”, 4” and so on. The longer the fastener, the more “play” it will have as it dangles from your item with the tag at the end. During the rigors of a consignment sale, tags that dangle too much can become caught and your tag can be torn off, especially if the tag is not reinforced by tape or a heavy-duty cardstock. I prefer ¾” barbs to affix tags to items, in an effort to keep the tag as close to the item as possible.
#4 – Set Up Your Gun Properly
Unlock the gun by turning the adjuster knob on the side with the knob tab pointing to the front of the gun (or by following the manufacturer’s guidelines that arrived with your tagging gun.) Pop the needle guard onto the needle and insert the needle into the slot in the front of the nozzle of the gun. Lock the needle into place by twisting the adjuster knob back. Insert the clips of the plastic barbs into the gun by pushing the “T” end of the clip into the “T” slot on top of the gun. Remove the needle guard and squeeze the trigger to check that the barbs are feeding correctly. If the first barb does not feed correctly, apply pressure to the clip while you are squeezing the trigger to engage the first barb in the needle.
#5 – Pre-Punch Your Tags
To attach tags to items, first punch a small hole in your tag (you may choose to reinforce the tag with tape before punching the hole to make the tag stronger and less likely to tear during the sale process). I use a Fiskars 1/16” hand-held circle hole punch which is commonly available at craft stores. This step also protects your needle; it will remain sharper longer if not being pushed repeatedly through cardstock before piercing the fabric of your items.
#6 – Minimize Clothing Damage with Proper “Punching” & Tagging
Push the needle through the hole in the tag then into the manufacturer’s tag on the item or a seam (under the arm is good, at the waistband, up inside a pocket) or in a selvage edge of fabric inside the top of the garment until it is touching the front of the gun. Never tag directly into the general fabric of the garment. You will damage your item! Instead, head for those reinforced, hidden areas of the garment. Some fabrics aren’t meant to be tagged through a seam, like raincoats or other outerwear. These fabrics don’t recover from holes, no matter how small. Take extra care with delicate fabrics like silk. If the item you are selling is new with tags, fasten your consignor tag next to the existing tag to minimize confusion by the buyer.
While holding the printed tag and the item you are tagging together, pull the trigger of the tagging gun to place the barb through the tags and attach the tag. Withdraw the tagging needle from the item. As the barbs are used, they will pull off and the solid plastic piece of the clip will progress down through the tagging gun, eventually to be discarded when all the barbs have been employed. If you are a visual learner, there are many tutorials on loading and using tagging guns online, including You Tube.
# 7 – Be Patient with Jams
If your price tagging gun starts to jam, stop pulling the trigger. Remove the needle and pull the fastener out the back side of the needle. Next, put the needle back into the gun, or replace the needle with a fresh one.
#8 – Safety First
Never tag a garment over your hands or any part of the body, because the needle will pierce through your skin easily. Place the garment on a clean, hard work surface and then tag it.
Always keep the safety shield over the tagging gun needle when not in use. This protects you from getting injured and also keeps the needle sharp and ready for work. Keep tagging guns and supplies out of reach of children.
Kristen Yartz, 41, is the mother of two and the owner of Little Red Hen Consignment Tagging Service, which she launched in response to the oft-heard remark, “I’d like to consign but I don’t have time!.” Little Red Hen offers comprehensive tagging services for busy families in Knoxville, Tennessee, as well as consulting services for independent tagging start-ups nationwide.