I’m so excited to offer another guest post by Kristen Yartz of Little Red Hen Consignment Tagging Service. Kristen is a pro when it comes to tagging & pricing and she offers some incredibly thorough ideas in this post!
Whether this is your first or your tenth consignment season, you have probably already decided which sale you want to do and are now facing mounds of your childrens’ outgrown and unused “stuff.” It can be overwhelming to come up with an efficient game plan, especially with so little spare time. So here are some tips and tricks that we’ve learned and used over the years at Little Red Hen Consignment Tagging Service to increase your efficiency in preparing clothing for a consignment sale.
1. For tagging, make sure you have a comfortable spot to sit with a flat, clear workspace. You may have little helpers under foot, and I find it helpful to have extra index cards at hand for them to color on and decorate with stickers, glue, sequins, etc. If you’re lucky enough to be tagging solo, the process will undoubtedly move much faster! Before you begin, highlight all of your tagging cards with the color assigned to you by the sale (if you wish to pick up any unsold items) and write your consignor number on each card.
2. Ensure that you have an abundance of hanging supplies, and then get more. It’s easy (especially your first time) to underestimate how many items you’ll be preparing for sale. Make sure that you have:
• hangers that match the size of the clothing you wish to sell;
• safety pins (I typically use #1 size safety pins to affix clothing to plastic hangers; smaller pins can be used with metal hangers);
• a de-fuzzer (to take pills off clothing);
• a lint roller;
• a set of small, sharp scissors (to trim any hanging threads); and • tiny zip-ties.
Don’t cut corners and try to use adult, metal hangers for children’s clothing. Your items will be distorted and unappealing to shoppers, and some sales do not allow metal hangers. Packs of cheap, plastic hangers can be purchased at Dollar stores and big box stores. If you choose the latter, hangers are typically cheaper in the children’s section. As you purchase items at sales, always keep the hangers and safety pins to build up your supplies for next season. Consider purchasing safety pins in bulk – you won’t pay retail price and you will have plenty on hand. Many on-line pin suppliers have a low minimum order, and you’ll receive well over 1,000 pins in one box – more than enough for several sales as an individual consignor.
3. Nothing is more frustrating than hitting your stride in tagging only to find out you’re out of an essential item. For making and affixing tags, you will need an ample supply of
• 3”x5” tagging cards, preferably unlined; • several pens (in case one runs out);
• highlighters (if your sale asks you to color-code your tags in case of unsold item pick-up);
• red markers (often used to denote items that you do not wish to sell half price);
• safety pins (I use size #2 to affix tags to clothing);
• tiny zip-ties; • extra hangers of all sizes;
• extra safety pins of varying sizes
• a lint roller
• a sharp pair of scissors;
• a calculator (for figuring 30-40% of original retail price);
• suggested pricing guide from other children’s consignment sales
• curling ribbon in the sale-specific color;
• packing tape; and
• your master pricing list.
Make sure to leave room on the card for the barcode sticker. Most barcodes typically measure 2 ¼” wide by ¾” tall.
4. Information that should be on your item’s tag includes:
• your consignor number,
• the size of the item,
• the brand (I always underline this),
• a brief description of the item in case it is separated from its tag,
• details of whether there are multiple pieces being sold with the item,
• a note if the item is brand new,
• the barcode,
• the hand-written price, and
• any sale-specific coding to allow the sale organizers know if the item is to be discounted or not.
If you wish to pick up any unsold items after the sale, your card may also need to be color coded, based on the rules of the individual sale.
5. Follow your sale’s posted instructions of how to pin tags onto your clothing items. You may choose to affix a piece of packing tape over each safety pin after the tag has been attached to the clothing, for extra security.
6. Use a master pricing list. For each sale I participate in, I generate a master price list on my computer that I then print out. It has a list of each price-point that I expect to price items at, starting at $1.00. There are two columns of this price, one for items that will not be discounted, and another for items that I plan to allow to be sold for half-price. The next line is $2.00 (again, with full price and half price columns), then $3.00 and so on. As I prepare a tag, I put a mark in the appropriate column. Leave space at the bottom so that you can write-in higher prices for larger items. Most of the items that we take to the sales fall within the $2.00 to $4.00 categories.
7. Many consignment sales throughout the United States include suggested pricing guidelines on their websites, so do some research online before you begin. These go further than the recommended 30-40% of retail, and often provide a breakdown by type of clothing and brand level. These can be helpful to refer to, especially if you are a beginning consignor learning to price. It can be rather astounding to learn what an average suggested price is for an item. It’s important to remember that market is different, and what might sell for a higher price in a large city in the Midwest may not have the same value where you live. Competition at sales is also a driving force; if a shopper is faced with multiple similar items, price will play a part in her decision of which to choose.
8. As you write your tagging cards, keep count of how many pricing barcodes you will be ordering from each category on your master pricing list. At the end of tagging your items, give yourself a margin for items that you may add before the sale, and add that extra onto your overall column tally. When you order your barcodes, order them by price and by discount/no discount. For instance, 15 tags at $1.00, no discount. 35 tags at $1.00, discount. Then move on to your higher priced items. When the barcodes arrive, you’ll be able to easily find the prices and combinations you need.
9. When you first start to consign, it may be tempting to not allow your items to sell for half price. However, think whether you’d rather make something instead of nothing for an item (especially if you intend to donate unsold items at the end of a sale anyway), or how willing you are to sort through unsold items at the end of the sale, find yours, and tote them home to re-tag and pay the consignment fee for a second sale. Remember how much work you’ve already put in to getting these items prepped and ready for this sale. If a second sale is not in your plan, expect to store your unsold items for a full year before the sale of your choice rolls around again, or donate them to a charity. My overall sales and those of my clients always get a healthy bump on Half Price day.
10. Curling ribbon should be used to tag all items that the sale considers to be “boutique.” When affixing curling ribbon to your hanger, wrap the ribbon around the shoulders of the hanger, as well as the neck. If you just tie it around the hanger’s neck, it is likely to slide off during the sale. Yikes! Most sales will provide a list of brands that fall into their definition of boutique on their website. If in doubt, ask! Many seasoned consignment sale shoppers go right to items with curling ribbons in their first perusal of a clothing section. Boutique items typically bring higher prices at consignment sales, and curling ribbons are an essential way that they will catch the eye of shoppers on the lookout for those high-end brands.
11. Once your hanging items are tagged and waiting for barcodes, sort them again, this time by price. And if you’re really gung-ho, by discount vs. non-discounted items. When your barcodes arrive, you’ll fly through the barcode process! Some highly organized consignors use a recipe box to separate their barcodes by price and discount/non-discount. If you’ve ordered them in ascending price order, it should be easy to flip to the correct price and code as needed. Make sure you keep any unused barcodes for future sales; the consignor number you were assigned at registration will most likely stay the same, and this will allow you to get a head-start on tagging for upcoming seasons.
12. When your barcodes have been affixed to the tags, do one final sort by gender and size, and rubber band items together into like sizes. Most consignment sales ask that consignors distribute their own items throughout the sale floor. Let the quality-control checkers at the sale know that your items have been pre-sorted, and they’ll most likely be careful to keep them in the order in which you’ve brought them. This is a great time-saver when merchandising your items at the sale site. If you invested in a portable hanging rack to assist you in tagging, bring it with you and utilize it to assist in the process of putting out your items. And remember, leave your little ones at home when taking your items to the sale site. The process tends to take longer than you think it will.
*Whew* You’ve made it through the clothes! Now you can turn your attention to the shoes and toys and assorted gear. Happy tagging!
Kristen Yartz, 39, is the mother of two and the owner/operator 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 complete tagging services (with no up-front fees) for busy families.