Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tips from the Consignment Sale Guru- Part Two

Tonight is the night! I am so excited about our semi-annual consignment sale!
I've got my big rolling clothes hamper ready, my snacks will be packed and I've got my running shoes on.
I feel like it's the wedding dress sale in Boston- only I will wear MUCH more than a bikini {thankfully} and will not have the stress of a wedding afterwards. Just the sweet reward of cheap, used clothes!

So, in conjunction with the big event, I decided to link to Oh Amanda's Top Ten List and share my Top 10 Tips for Becoming a Consignment Sale Warrior. Think Xena... with a laundry basket and measuring tape. {You also might want to read Part 1 of this series for the complete training.}

: : : : : : :
This post was originally published on February 24, 2009.

Tonight was the workers sale night at my favorite local kids consignment sale.
This night happens twice a year and I REALLY look forward to it.

As in, it ranks higher than a girls night out.
Or maybe even a movie date. With chocolate cake afterwards.
Yes. It’s that good.

So, with my vast experience and knowledge at SOMETHING {I’m kind of embarrassed that this is what it is}, here are 10 easy steps to become a Consignment Sale Warrior:

Before the Sale
1. Sign up to work.
Most sales have volunteers that staff the receiving item times, the public sale times and the closing times. Look online for your local websites and talk to other moms. This is the BEST way to get the best deals; shopping first is a huge advantage and is totally worth it.

2. Get the appropriate gear.
You will need either a very large clothes hamper or a large garbage can. Wheels are really important. If you would like to go ghetto consignment sale warrior, you can use a clothes hamper with a belt looped around the handle to drag it from place to place. Oh, yes. I saw that A LOT tonight.

3. Case the joint.
If you consign at the sale or work when consignors are bringing in their goods, try to figure out which sections will have clothes, accessories, books, etc- whatever you are looking for. It’s best to know where you’re going before you get there with other crazies shoppers.

4. Find another warrior princess.
There is a HUGE power in numbers and if you have 1-2 friends who will also be there, it is much more fun and you can get someone else’s opinion on whether or not that item is worth $3.

5. Suck up.
I always ask my kids’ pre-school teachers what they are in need of in their classroom and let them know that I get to shop first.Tonight I got some big trucks for Ollie’s classroom and some train tracks and trains for Henry’s classroom. I think this might buy my kids a few more days out of time out. Or at least let them get away with one little push on the playground.

During the Sale
6. Know your priorities.
Try to get to your #1 area as soon as possible and work your way down your list. I always go to clothes first unless I need a specific item {like a video baby monitor or double stroller} and I start with the older child’s clothes. There are ALWAYS more clothes in the younger sections {they aren’t as hard on them and have many more clothes, usually to begin with} and my youngest has hand-me-downs. Then I go to shoes, then toys, puzzles, videos and anything else cool.

7. Stockpile your purse.
I know you’ll think I’m kidding, but I bring food and water for snack/ dinner. After 2 hours of throwing elbows and judging the value of Faded Glory {Wal-Mart} vs. Circo {Target} elastic shorts, you need a little boost of energy. I packed a PB & J and some chips. And I was not ashamed to chomp away while sorting clothes {Helloooo, hand sanitizer?}. One mom came close by me and told me it smelled good.

No, I did not share.

8. Have a network.
Start asking the people in your size zone if you can look through their “leftovers” after they are done. Most people get a big pile of things they might like, then they go through and only keep their final purchases. Ask around- especially if you see that other mom snatching all the cute stuff.

9. Know your sizes and brands.
Some people bring a tape measure and have their kids measurements written down {kids aren’t allowed at our worker’s sale}. Some even trace their kid’s foot around a piece of cardboard and bring that to fit in shoes. I just wing it. If it doesn’t fit one child, it will most likely fit the other. And if all else fails and it doesn’t fit either, I can always re-sell it, right?
Try to remember the basics like:
* Gymboree runs big and Polo runs small.
* They only paid $4 for that George shirt at Wal-Mart, so you should not buy it for $8.
* You'll need that Spiderman shirt later to talk your child out of the house to a birthday party or piano lesson, so go ahead and get it now for $4.

You probably know if your child will fit larger in shirts than pants or vice versa. Or if you will use these clothes for the next 7-8 months, like I will, buy your current size and the next size up.

10. Don’t forget special occasions!
If you have a wedding or family pictures or a 4th of July party coming up this summer {edited to add: for fall, I always get Halloween costumes and think of Christmas, too!}, go ahead and stock up while the getting’s good. And don't forget swimsuits and dress up costumes.
Cheap is the name of the game, so go for it!

I'm not done! You get an extra tip!

11. Scour the goods.
I have been burned a time or 2 with a shirt that had a stain on the back or a well placed tag was covering it. Also check the size of each item if several are together and the front and back of each if there is a combo on one hanger. I do love a matching shorts outfit, so I tend to lean towards those, but be sure to check it out.

If I had to have an 12, it would be to bring sharp elbows and a smile. The smile will hide what your sharp elbows can do!

Hope this helps and good luck this season at your local consignment sales. They are a great way to help other moms and get some great clothes much cheaper than buying retail!

: : : : : : :
OK, do you participate in your local sales?
What's your favorite find?


Kara @ His, Hers and Ours said...

Great tips!! I'm not very consignment shop savvy...but now I feel like I could at least walk into one, and know what to do with myself!

Thanks and have fun!! ;)

VanderbiltWife said...

I'm so excited to go to our sale on Thursday night. (We have early bird sale for workers and for consignors.) I am hoping to find some cute fall goodies for my little sweetie. They actually provide laundry baskets there, but they don't have wheels. Hm. I am thinking since they are not allowing strollers inside a laundry basket with wheels is probably out!

Jennifer said...

I'm committed to keep trying consignment sales, but I never seem to buy anything when I go. Crazy, I know.

Phillips Phamily Mama said...

You are right about it being that time of year! The sales are all the buzz on facebook, too. Ha!

Love all your tips. I'm looking forward to the day when I can unload three closets full, but until we are done with children I'm not going there. Having two girls is great, but the clothes are taking over!

vanessa said...

Definitely good tips--I could have used this info a few weeks ago! I made the classic rookie mistake of NOT bringing a container to stash my goods in...luckily, I spotted an empty box lying under a table and snatched it up. Next time I will be bringing the wheeled basket and a snack! Enjoyed your list!

Rachel @ CrazyTown said...

One thing that always drives me crazy at consignment sales is how tired my arms get from looking through all those clothes. My arms are ususally ready to fall off by the time I get home. Though I won't quit going to them anytime soon.

I have yet to actually contribute to them as I hand all my clothes down to Carley and my best friends kids, however when she knows she is done having kids we will participate and it will be obscene how many clothes we'll have to do together.

Lyn said...

We have a bunch of sales coming up...here are my tips.

Have a shopping list. My husband goes through all of Grant's clothes and we make a list of what he has and will have and needs. He even looks at growth charts etc. Don't forget to take into account shrinkage when sizing.

Wear a fanny pack and fill it with quarters and ones. Hide a few larger bills not visible to sellers. Having correct changes makes transactions much smoother. Some of our sales you pay once at the end and others (my favorite ones) - you are buying direct from the seller and can wheel and deal with them one on one.

If you can't work the sale, it may or may not be worth paying the early bird entry fees. It depends what you are looking for and how crowed the sale is.

Bring a bottle of water - almost more important than snacks!

Have fun saving money - my favorite topic...

In That Moment... said...

The only way I shop for my child's clothes is only at Consignment Sales! Well, just the Consignment Sale at my church. I volunteer for the sale so I shop as I place products on the floor! It's bad. I budget myself to $100 and always look for the outfits put together (i.e. shirt and pants).

Caroline said...

I didn't know that working was really worth it!!!
ALSO - thought of you - I'm about to return something I bought just for pictures. Hehe!
Hope you got lots of goodies!

Anonymous said...

Well, it was my first time to shop at the workers sale and I only got Maddy a few casual dresses and a cute tee. Thomas did rack up with a Batman costume that lights up somehow and batman pjs. The book selection was great though! I bought three packs of books.

I have just woofed down a bowl of spaghetti and will soon have a slice of pie. :) I was sooo hungry afterwards!

Hope you found lots o'stuff!


Jennifer said...

Great tips, but I could have used them a little earlier. I went to my first consignment sale in Ozark last weekend and thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown. I didn't know what to expect and it was mass chaos.

Amy Kennedy said...

Love the consignment sales here in Bham. They just started last weekend and there is one every weekend for about 5 weeks-I love it! It's so thrilling to find good stuff at cheap prices-almost addicting and hard to leave! I did find great pink corduroy winter coat but got it home and Hayes looks like the little boy in the "Big" movie w/it on-it's enormous on her-maybe next winter or the next it will fit! but see it was very cheap so I do not even care! Hope you got some good stuff for the boys!

Donna said...

I bow down to your consignment wisdom. You are definitely the guru- and while the idea of those sales gives me too much anxiety- I am a regular consignment "shop" buyer.

Antoinette said...

Up here, in Yankee country (wink, wink), we call them Mom2Mom sales. With the exception of a few of the sales, the sellers have their own table so you can bargain with each seller individually. The sales where everyone's stuff is bunched together and grouped by size, we call "Department Store" style Mom2Mom sales. I haven't been to one of those yet but want to go. I'm a Mom2Mom addict! :) Gotta love cheap wardrobes since they grow out of their clothes so quickly!

This is my first time on your blog and I'm loving it so far. Happy blogging!

Tami said...

very educational but more importantly..what a great visual I now have that will keep me laughing all day long! Always fun to visit you Hillary!

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