Last weekend I talked about why I love shopping consignment sales to help save money on my children’s clothing. But I admit that the first time I went to a sale, I was not sure what to expect and did not know quite how to make the most of my time and money while there. Now that I have a bit more experience, I thought I would share some tips and tricks I have learned to help you have consignment sale shopping success!
1. Have a specific shopping list complete with size information for each person for whom you are shopping. This is where having a copy of my Kids Capsule Wardrobe Checklist will come in really handy! Most consignment sales are pretty huge and can be very overwhelming if you do not have specific items in mind as you shop. Keeping track of what you need to look for helps you avoid getting distracted by all the other “shiny objects” in the room so you can stay within your budget.
2. Leave the kids at home. Seriously, you do not need or want to be trying to corral your children while sifting through racks of clothes or searching piles of toys. And you certainly don’t need them begging for unnecessary toys and books that are not on your to-buy list! Plus, many venues do not even allow children at the sale, especially pre-sale time slots. So, save yourself the trouble and enlist your husband, mother, a friend or even hire a babysitter to watch the kids. Trust me. You will thank me later!
3. Find out what time you can shop the discount sale, and take advantage of better bargains. Most consignment sales will have one or more time periods for discounted prices, often up to 50% off marked prices! And if you are a volunteer or a consignor, you can usually get in to shop these discounts before the general public.
4. Grab everything you think you might want to buy, then sort through your items and make decisions later. Since just about everything at a consignment sale is the only one of that item in that size, the good stuff will go fast! And in a large venue, you probably will only have time and energy to go over each section of the racks one time. So if you like the looks of something, put it in your cart, tote or whatever you have to carry your loot, then you can go back and sort through everything to decide what you will keep and what to put back.
5. Double, maybe even triple check items for stains, holes, and correct sizing. This is the sorting process I just talked about. Not only do you need to go through every item to make sure it is something you want to buy, but you need to double check for any flaws that might have been missed before the sale began. Most consignors are honest and don’t intend to try and pass off badly stained or torn clothing, but everybody makes mistakes and things get missed. Also, sometimes items get mislabeled by mistake. At my first sale, I bought a cute seersucker sunsuit for my little gal, only to find the actual size on the tag inside the outfit was much smaller than what the outer label had claimed. Again, I am sure it was just a mistake, but it was money wasted on my part. This is also the time to go over your shopping list and see what items you have filled and what you might still need to look for.
6. Volunteer or be a consigner to get in on pre-sales and early discounts. I alluded to this before,
ut it truly pays to do more than just shop! Consignment sales could not happen without the hours put in by volunteers who help sort items, run checkout and tear down after the sale. The people who run these sales reward volunteers with special passes to pre-sales and early discounts. If you are able to give a couple of hours, it will be worth your effort because you get a chance at the best items and bargains of the whole sale! Consignors also get in on early discounts and pre-sales! Plus, you get rid of unneeded items and earn a little money on the side! As I mentioned in my last post, I have been able to earn enough back from consigning to cover the cost of what I bought the last two sales! More tips on being a consignor to come…
7. Know what kind of payment is accepted before you go. Some sales may only accept cash or credit. Others take checks but not credit. Be sure to double check with the sale website or Facebook page to know what kind of payment you need to have with you. It would really stink to get all the way to checkout and come up short because you did not have the right thing to pay for your purchases!
8. Shop early if you are looking for big ticket items like furniture. Kids’ consignment sales usually have much, much more than just clothing and shoes. Toys, strollers, cloth diapers, baby carriers, nursery or playroom furniture….you can find it all at consignment sales! If you are looking for something specific that is a bigger ticket item or is in high demand, you will not want to wait until discount night to look for it. This is where being a volunteer or consignor will come in handy because you will want to shop the pre-sale to grab the good stuff before it’s gone!
9. Know what kind of venue you will be in and dress accordingly. I have been blessed to shop a sale in a nice, air-conditioned venue. But I have heard of some that have gone to sales and been either freezing or burning up because of poor climate controls. So if you think you might need it, bring a jacket in the fall and winter, or dress light in summer. And wear comfy shoes. You are going to be on your feet, likely on concrete, for a few hours. You don’t want to be in heels for this job!
10. Give yourself plenty of time to shop, sort and check out. The time you need will, of course, depend on how long your shopping list is, as well as how big the sale venue is and how many shoppers are there when you are. I have found at our local sale, shopping just for clothes for 2 kids, I needed over 2 hours, and 3 is probably more realistic. The first hour and half is spent going through the racks and grabbing items, then sorting and putting back anything I did not end up wanting. Depending on how many shoppers are trying to check out at the same time I am, it has taken at least 30 minutes just to go through checkout. That is the tedious part, but if you go in knowing to expect it (and maybe have a friend to help pass the time, see next tip), you can plan accordingly and just grin and bear it. The wait will be worth it in the end!
BONUS: Team up with a friend or family member. Divide and conquer! If you have a long shopping list or several people to shop for, this could be really helpful. I am betting Grandma would love to help shop for her grandkids, and maybe even find a few special items she wants to buy them for Christmas or birthdays! Or if you and a friend go shop together, even if you each only shop for your own kids, one of you can finish early and get in line for checkout, saving a space for the other while she finishes up her list. Tag-teaming the checkout lane during a really busy time slot can help save time and energy!
So, there you have it! My top tips and tricks for consignment sale shopping success! Would you add anything I missed? Leave a comment below and let me know!