It is no secret that I love a good bargain. A consignment sale is a wonderful place to find new and gently used items cheap. But how do consignment sales work? Is the time you spend worth the pay out? Yes and Yes! After officially finishing my first consignment sale and selling over half of my items, I can tell you how to get your items sold!
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What is a consignment sale and how does it work?
A children’s consignment sale is a shopping event where parents can buy and sell gently used items. Consignors prepare their gently used items according to the sales policy and drop the items off at the event location. That’s it!
Most sales are bi-annual, holding events in the early spring and fall. If you are interested in finding a consignment sale near you, visit consignmentmommies.com and select your state/city.
How Much Does It Cost To Consign?
The consignor fee depends on the location and size of the event. I consign at 2 local events. The larger event is a $8 fee, located in a large city and has been running for 10+ years . The smaller event is a $15 fee and is located outside of the city. It is held for only 2 days and is located and run by a church.
How Much Commission Do I Receive?
Most consignment events offer a commission of 65%, however, if you volunteer to work a shift you can receive a higher percentage or have the consignor fee waived.
The larger of my two consignment sales offers up to 78% commission if you or your spouse are able to work any shifts. Yes, you read that right! If your consignment event does not list this in their guidelines, it never hurts to ask. Extra muscles are nice to have on set-up and break down days.
Plus, consignors get to shop before the public! The more shifts you or your spouse work, the earlier you can shop the event.
Preparing Your Items For Consignment Sales
Collect Your Supplies
Having your supplies organized and ready is key to an enjoyable sale. Your first consignor sale is a learning curve of what works best for you. Having a toddler that wants to help with everything, made me realize I needed a tagging gun. Supplies I use for consignment sales:
- Hangers – Some dry cleaners may have free or cheap hangers for purchase. Amazon also has good deals on bulk hanger packs.
- Cardstock – I recommend 65lb or higher. Do not skip this! Regular paper tags tear easy and fall off your items. If your item does not have a tag, it CANNOT SELL!
- Safety Pins – Depending on your item, you will need between 1 – 4 pins per item. I prefer an assorted pack. Large pins for pin to the hanger and small pins for attaching the tag.
- Tagging Gun – If you have over 20 clothing items, I recommend buying a tagging gun. It is worth every penny!
- Lysol Laundry Sanitizer – I use this with every load of laundry already. Leaves a nice clean smell and safe on most fabrics.
- OxiClean – I spot treat all of my daughter’s clothes as soon as I see a stain appear.
- Magic Eraser – Great to spot clean toys.
- Ziploc Bags – These can be used for small shoes, toys or to help keep smaller pieces with large items. (Ex: Dollhouses, kitchen sets, manuals, etc.) I also tape all tops of Ziploc bags closed for extra security.
- Tape – Used to secure tags on larger items, hold items together and secure Ziploc bags.
- Plastic Wrap – This is a must if you have puzzles or other small board games.
Take Stock Of Your Inventory
Organize your items in piles to be sold, donated or trash. Remember to stay in season! Winter coats or holiday themed items will not sell at a spring event. Store these items until the fall sale. Most consignment sales will take jeans year around. If in doubt, always ask.
What Items Are Accepted?
The majority of consignment sales accept the same items like swings, bassinets, pack-n-plays, cribs, clothes, toys, car seats, etc. Your particular consignment sale may have certain items they limit or will not accept.
My previous consignment sale had a 20-item limit on all infant clothing sizes newborn – 24 months. Since clothes are a popular item at baby showers, in previous events these items did not sale as well as the bigger sizes.
All consignment events will not accept ANY items that has been recalled. Check the Consumer Product Safety Commission site for all recalls.
Wash, Iron, Repeat
After you have organized your items, thoroughly look over each clothing item for strains, rips and missing pieces (such as buttons or zippers). Treat all stains and fix any minor rips or tears before washing.
If you have a stubborn stain, leave an appropriate amount of Oxiclean on the clothing overnight.
I recently had this problem. My daughter had to take the lovely pink liquid Amoxicillin for an ear infection and of course some dripped on her beige shirt. I left a small amount of Oxiclean on the stain overnight and it was gone the next morning!
I hang all my clothing straight from the dryer to help minimize wrinkles. Any stubborn or clothing prone to wrinkles, I will set aside to iron. When hanging your clothing items, most consignment sales want the hanger to form a question mark (?).
Clean, Clean and Clean Your Non-Clothing Items
If you want to make top dollar for your items, grab your Magic Eraser and clean like there is no tomorrow! I personally will not overlook an item if there are a few pen or smudge marks, but it has to be priced SUPER CHEAP for me to buy it. I do not mind putting in a little elbow grease for a great deal.
One of my recent finds was a Guidecraft learning tower, it was priced for $20!!! This item retails for $130 (as of February 2020). There were a fair amount of smudges and marks but nothing a magic eraser could not take off. This consignor could have easily priced this item for $40-$45. If you do not know about the Montessori learning style, learning towers are priced anywhere between $80 – $200. This was a steal!
How Do I Price My Items?
To start, you need to think “how much would I pay for this item?” After talking with other veteran consignors, the problem they see most is consignors pricing items too high. Remember, buyers are looking for bargains, not designer brands.
I recommend to group like items together. Clothing sets are more likely to sell and you can charge a little more. Don’t worry if you mix and match brands. As long as the color combo works well together, it will sell. DO NOT mix sizes. This is a no-no.
If you need help figuring how to price your items, Consignment Mommies has a great price guide article.
Yes, you may have paid a pretty penny for that nice infant swing, but buyers are looking for good deals at these types of sales. If you are wanting to make more than HALF your money back on an item, consignment sales are not for you. A yard sale or high end consignment shop would be your better choice. Gently used items are recommended to be priced at ONE-THIRD of the retail price.
Example 1: Fisher Price Soothing Motions Bassinet
The current price of the Fisher Price Soothing Motions Bassinet is between $109-$119. I sold mine at the PRESALE for $48.50. My bassinet was in excellent condition (my daughter hated it), manual included along with extra mattress and sheets. I priced my bassinet on the higher end since I had extras included.
Example 2: Fisher-Price My Little Lamb Platinum Edition Cradle ‘n Swing
I received this swing at my baby shower and it was priced around $130 when bought. I sold this for $35.25 at the PRESALE. Mine was in excellent condition and came with a manual. There was another swing just like mine at the sale for $8-$10 more, but was over looked due to the higher price.
Should I Discount My Items?
Yes! My first consignment sale I did not discount, since I was learning the ropes and had another event weeks after. Looking back, I wish I did. For budget shoppers who might only come to the discount consignment sale, this will help get your items sold.
**Update** I selected to discount my items on my second consignment sale and I sold a TON of items! This particular sale was only 2 days long and discounted items were sold from 1:00-3:00 on the last day.
I sold just as many items during that 2 hour window, as I did over the 2 day sale. Goes to show, it is worth discounting items.
Entering & Tagging Your Items
After you have organized your items, start entering them into the consignment event system. I group all clothing by size and then by brand name. This will save you time down the road.
When creating your tag, describe the item as well as you can. In case your tag is separated from your item, shoppers or consignment workers can easily identify your item. Include brand name, color/pattern, style and how many pieces. Pin or use a tagging gun to attach the tag in the upper right area of the clothing. It is recommended to attach all tags in a seam to reduce holes.
Shoes can be placed in a Ziploc bag with the tag taped to the outside of the bag. If you feel lucky or do not have bags, you can also use zip ties or pins to attach your tag.
After I finish entering and tagging all my items, I rubber band all clothing sizes together and hang in a closet. This process makes loading and unloading easier on everyone.
If you have the time and willing to clean up your items, you can make a good amount of money at consignment sales. However, do not feel discouraged if your items do not sell the first time around. With large events, buyers can get overwhelmed by the amount of merchandise or they looking for particular items. Simply take note of other items similar to yours and see how they sold. You will also learn which sales are better for clothing and non-clothing items.