We went to a consignment sale in March and it prompted us to decide that it’s time to part with Charlotte’s baby items and outgrown clothing. A few weeks later, I signed us up as consignors at a gigantic kids consignment sale out here. They take about 650 consignors and it’s held in an empty Costco warehouse.
About an hour later, the email arrived confirming our participation and providing instructions for preparing our items for the sale. I started to have regrets before I was halfway through that email.
So. Many. Rules.
Every item had to be entered into their inventory/tagging system. Tags had to be printed through the system on specific paper and then cut out and affixed to clothes with a tag gun. The tags also had to be in specific locations on the items. Then the items had to be placed just so on wire hangers and secured with safety pins as-needed. Then, hangers needed to be marked somehow so that it would be easier to find our unsold items at the end of the sale.
And that was just the clothes. Toys, books, and baby gear all had their own rules for tagging and preparation.
The email was loooooong. There were accompanying videos to watch. It was information overload.
I started to panic because we had a lot of stuff to sell. Babies amass an incredible amount of shit in their first year. This was going to be a huge undertaking.
Here’s what we needed to start prepping our stuff:
- Hangers – 99 Cents store
- Safety pins – 99 Cents store
- Tag gun – Amazon
- Neon colored zip ties – Amazon
- Packing tape – Amazon
- Cardstock paper – stole from work
- Bandages for all of the times I stabbed myself with the tag gun – Medicine Cabinet
- Rubber bands to group sizes together – stole from work
- Scotch tape for taping tags to books – stole from work
- Lysol wipes for cleaning – already on hand
We didn’t keep very good track of what we spent on supplies, but I’d guess it was around $50 when all was said and done. There are ways to spend less—especially if you plan better and don’t need hangers rightthissecond.
We started by going through bin after bin of clothes. They had to be checked for stains, and sorted by season. (Note: it is surprising how things that you swear were not stained when you put them in that bin end up with stains. Especially breastmilk and formula—those stains get worse with time and heat.) This sale was only for spring/summer clothes. We also took this opportunity to set aside anything meaningful that we weren’t willing to part with.
Once that part was done, we printed tags and broke out the tagging gun and packing tape. We had over 200 items to tag. It was intense. I lost count of the number of times the tag gun needle stabbed my finger. I wanted to throw it at the wall by the time we were done.
Shoes were cleaned and then tied together with zip ties, which worked out great.
Items with loose parts were either taped or zip tied together. I put some smaller items in a gallon size baggie sealed with packing tape.
We marked our hangers by taping a neon zip tie to the neck of the hanger with packing tape. It worked great! Most people tied ribbon or yarn to their hangers, so ours stood out well on the racks when I went to pick up our unsold stuff.
Batteries were checked. Plastic was wiped down. Clothes were grouped and rubber banded by size—and we would have had a ton more to sell but they limit 0-12 month sizes to 40 items per child, so we were very limited there.
We filled our entire Ford Flex with stuff to drop off. I have never seen our car so full. Not even when we go camping.
We arrived, checked in and borrowed a rolling clothing rack. We loaded up the rack and our collapsible wagon with stuff and then waited in line to have our items all checked. They went through everything. Clothes were checked for stains. Batteries were checked in toys.
Then we had the pleasure of taking our stuff and putting it where it belonged on the sale floor. We also had to set up items like the Pack n Play and the bouncer.
I cannot describe the relief I felt when we walked out of there. We were done. The prep for all of that stuff took hours and hours over two weeks. I was so tired of having it hanging over my head!
I could not believe how fast our things started selling. The first 2 days of the sale yielded the highest sales. By the end, we had sold 179 items. Our cut of the sales was $475.
At the end of the sale, I collected a few clothing items: a bouncy seat that I had put the wrong tag on so it was priced way too high, a single diaper cover (out of 8), a single pair of shoes (out of 16), a boppy that had somehow been damaged during the sale, a Baby Merlin Magic Sleep Suit, two brand new pairs of tights, an infant sun hat, and 3 books that I opted to donate instead of finding them.
I think two main factors played into our success with sales:
- We priced to sell. Most of our larger items were within a close range of their counterparts, but items like our clothes and shoes were definitely on the lower end of the price spectrum. Most of our stuff was Carters or Old Navy. I could not BELIEVE the prices some of the other consignors were asking for this stuff. Ex: $9 for a sun-faded Old Navy swim coverup that I probably could have purchased brand new (on sale) for a similar price. Know your audience. Although it draws people from all over, this sale was located in a lower-income part of this city. We priced our items accordingly. Our goal was to get rid of things, not to recoup the entire expense of the item. There were some higher priced items that we opted to sell online beforehand so that we wouldn’t have to lose a percentage of the sale to the consignment people.
- Our stuff looked really good. It stood out in the sea of stuff. Everything was in fantastic condition, and if it wasn’t, we didn’t bother trying to sell it.
Obviously, we are not consignment sale experts, but we sure learned a lot from this first experience and I thought it was worth sharing in case anyone is considering taking on a project like this. And believe me, it is a Project.
We will do this again in October to sell the fall/winter items, but I think we’d probably only do it every other year going forward. It is a lot of work, and the more you have to sell, the more worthwhile the effort seems.
I am including our Consignor Sold Items Report so you can see how we priced things in case you’re curious. I mean it when I say we priced to sell. These clothes were listed at prices I would have been thrilled to pay–and did pay for the couple of things I decided to purchase.