One of the things I most envy about motherhood is kids consignment sales. These hyper-organized-garage-sales-on-steroids are a bargain hunters dream. Outfit your tot with clothes, toys, books, and gear for a fraction of the retail cost and sell everything baby bunting has outgrown or dismissed as boring. Price your gently-used onesies right, and you could break even.
I’m not the only one interested in kids consignment sales. Lingering economic woes, pressures to go green, and societal acceptance of buying, er, vintage, have translated into a rash of kids consignment sales.
“I’ve always known that I was going to get bigger because every time I did it I had a wait list of consignors,” said Kristin Nelson, who runs six yearly . “People understand they can make some good money.”
Timing is key to making the most of kids consignment sales. Go in the middle and the sale is picked over. Go early, and you have your pick of the bargains. Go late to pick through leftovers, much of which are half-off.
To get in at the earliest possible moment, volunteer to work a shift for the organizer. Laurie Owens, who runs two semi-annual in Flemington and Edison, N.J., rewards helpers who work between four and twelve hours with first access. The more you work, the earlier you get in.
“I have some people who don’t consign but volunteer to get the early shopping,” Owens said. “It’s that valuable.”
Owens has been running kids consignment sales since 2005, after being disappointed with how little she made selling her child’s stuff at a general consignment store. The beauty of kids consignment sales is that you can load up on – or unload – everything at once.
At her last Flemington sale, the average shopper spent $70 for 13 items, or $5.40 per item. Owens charges consignors $10-$12 to participate, takes 25-40% of their sales. Consignors make an average of $225 and she clears several thousand dollars each sale. This fall, Owens added a second sale in Edison to meet demand.
To find a kids consignment sale near you, visit . Since launching a year ago, the site has grown to more than 1,000 kids consignment sale listings across 48 states. In New Jersey there are 20 sales listed, including ones in Middlesex, Hackensack, and Bloomfield. is another resource to find a sale near you.
Once you find one near you, brush up on how the sale is run. There is no standard. Consignor and volunteer policies vary, as do sale organization and hours. Look for pictures of past sales to get an idea of what to expect, talk to a past consignor or shopper, or volunteer at an upcoming sale.
Most sales have designated areas for clothes, toys, and gear. Highly organized sales may hang clothes by sex and size, separate toys by age appropriateness and type, and put like gear together.
Additional tips to make the most of a kids consignment sale:
- The vast majority of kids consignment sales have free admission.
- In general, sales do not accept items with tears, stains, holes, broken zippers, missing buttons or snaps, scuffs, or excess wear and tear, but inspect each item carefully before buying.
- All sales are final.
- Bring a list of items you are looking for, with details on what sizes you want. Double check on the sale website that these sizes will be available.
- The first items to sell out are big plastic toys, like ride-in cars, slides, and playhouses.
- Do not bring your kids. They will have a field day with all the open toys and books, often laid out on tables and in buckets.
- Do not buy car seats or bike helmets at a kids consignment sale, even if they appear to be new. The item is unsafe if it has been in an accident. Check recalls before buying a used crib, stroller, or high chair.
- For a , check Owen’s site, Kidzsignments.com.
- If going to a kids consignment sale is not possible, check out , a site that facilitates the exchange of used kids clothing through the mail.