1. Smile and be friendly! To shoppers, you are the face of your local consignment sale. These events can be overwhelming at times. A friendly face in the crowd goes a long way.
2. Read the volunteer/worker section of the website. Your sale will have the basic information on what to expect as a volunteer and may have a lot of details about volunteering.
3. Sign up and make a note of the days and times you’ll be working. Sales depend on volunteers to keep everything running smoothly. Show up a few minutes early to find out where you’ll be working, put up your belongings and get instructions on your assigned tasks.
4. Make childcare arrangements. Most sales do not offer childcare for volunteers. Schedule someone reliable to take care of your children. You’ll be able to relax and enjoy your experience if your kids are with someone they know and you trust.
5. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Consignment sale workers spend a lot of time on their feet. You could be doing some work that’s best suited for comfortable clothes. If your sale has a t-shirt that volunteers wear, get yours ahead of time and wear it. What a great way to advertise your sale!
6. Leave your phone in your purse. When you’re helping at a sale, give your work 100% of your attention. Texting and talking on the phone will be a distraction for you and the people around you. It’s okay to take a break and check your phone for emergency calls or updates from the babysitter or school. It’s not okay to call your sister to discuss the latest family gossip when you should be working.
7. Ask how you can be the most help and be willing to do whatever you’re asked to do. There are a lot of jobs that have to be done at a sale. Most of them are entertaining and fun, but there are things that no one really wants to do. Those jobs are usually the most helpful. If you’re asked to do something beyond your physical limitations, it is okay to ask to do something else. Otherwise, just grin and bear it for those tasks you’d rather skip. Do your best and have a positive attitude. Others around you will notice. Positive, friendly attitudes are contagious.
8. Be patient with the people in charge. By the end of the week, they have been asked thousands of questions, have slept very little and are under a lot of stress. There may be a point where one more question, complaint or criticism will be one too many. If it’s yours, bear with them. A hug or understanding smile, along with forgiveness, will go a long way toward making things better for everyone.
9. Be proactive. If you finish with a task and see something else that needs to be done, go do it. Every sale has three areas that always need straightening: Shoes, toys and clothes. Check an area to make sure everything is nice and neat. If something’s in the wrong size or area, figure out where it goes and put it there.
10. This is the hard one. Don’t use your volunteer time as shopping time. If you are organizing clothing or toys, stay focused on the task at hand. Resist the temptation to browse the racks for your family. Your work will be more efficient and you’ll finish sooner.
Bonus Tip: Some days, it’s the little things that make all the difference. If you know your sale organizers well enough to know their habits, bring them a small treat. It can go a long way in making them smile. One volunteer brings her sale owner a Cherry Coke Zero when she works. Another helper drops off a slushy from the local drive-in for her friend in charge.
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.