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According to this fantastic blog memory keeper, it turns out my first consignment sale experience was exactly six years ago, this week. Though I had not forgotten the experience generally, I had definitely forgotten that I’d sworn off all future consignment sales at the end of that unfortunate week.
I love that I’ve not only come full circle, but that I’m here, writing about it.
If you know me, you know the acquired taste I’ve developed for my own foot, and just how often I’ve needed a shoe horn to remove it from my mouth.
You also know that I’m pretty good at not holding grudges. So without further ado, I’d like to do a take 2 on seasonal consignment sales, and share with you my far more positive experience here.
Have Fun, Clean Out, Make Money
After that first church consignment sale experience tragedy (where I made about $60 total and have absolutely no idea what I sold), I have been consigning in a different local church consignment sale for the last three years, and I’ve grown to love it. Every single bit of it.
Also, I’ve learned a few things that have made me far more successful at it. About $300 more successful, to be not exactly exact.
Why Consignment Over Yard Sales?
I have done exactly one garage sale in my entire life. Never again.
Seasonal consignment sales are entirely different, and here’s why.
First, there’s no bargaining. Prices are set, by me, and marked (or not) to go half price on the last day. I never have to see who buys my stuff or hear what they think about my prices.
Consignment season is fun. The collective contributions, shared work, and community aspect make consignment sales totally fun. Garage sales are a lot of work. So are consignment sales. But the difference is this: an entire team of consigners contribute stuff and then work together to set up, execute, and take down the sale.
We hang out. We talk prices, successes, awesome bargains we’ve found, things we’re looking for.
The difference for me is that I’m working with friends.
The mess is out of my home. Because they only come twice a year, they force me, a mother of four, to get on my A-game with cleaning out closets and getting rid of anything that does not fit. I love the deadline.
Okay, let’s be real: I need the deadline.
In my first sale ever, I way overpriced everything. I have since taken on a new mentality and learned several tricks and tips that have given me consignment success. Here are a few things I do:We already wore these clothes and they served a purpose – therefore any money I make back on them is a bonus.Click To Tweet
GOAL: Clean out! Don’t come home with anything from the sale.
- I only sell sizes that are an entire year too small for my smallest kid. I just never know when I might need or want something back that still would fit (like those never-worn black leggings that would suddenly complete a Halloween costume).
- DO LESS WORK FIRST: I actually get rid of my nicest stuff to a consignment SHOP in town, then only individually tag/price what they don’t take. Here, I collectively average $2 an item for spring/summer clothes and $4 an item for fall/winter clothes. This average helps me know what my price points should be on what is left.
- Forget about how much I paid for something. Ask, “How much would I pay for this now?”
- KNOW MY COMPETITION: I volunteer to set up and take down at my sale. Most sales offer more commission based on hours worked, but even more worth it, volunteering lets me see what the amount and quality is of the other items at the sale. Nice clothes quickly get lost in an over-stuffed low-quality sale, as do low-quality clothes at a fairly well-priced nice-stuff sale.
- BRAND NAME MATTERS over original price.
- I mark everything to be allowed to sell half price. This tells buyers to go ahead and grab it on day 1 if they are waffling, and ensures that I will have little to nothing left at the end of the sale. Exception: super nice stuff that I just want to see if I can get a high asking price (flower girl dress, example).
- Price Points
- Best sellers (trendy): Old Navy, Gap, Gymboree up to a certain size, Justice, Land’s End.
- Average sellers: Osh Kosh, Carter’s, Target brands, Cherokee, JCPenny brands.
- Lowest sellers: Garanimals, Circo; Genuine Kids, Children’s Place.
- Hit or Miss (depends on your sale): boutique clothing, Hanna Anderson, Oilily, MiniBoden, etc, Copper Key, Polo, Calvin Klein. (Hint: know your market.)
My Price Points:
$6 is my personal max. This is just me, and I’m definitely on the low side. Depending on your sale, your town, or the level of your urge to purge, you might successfully go higher.
- $6: sets of not-well-worn clothing, church clothing that my shop doesn’t take, good condition outdoor jackets, Christmas dresses.
- $5: sets of moderately well worn clothing or sets in the “best sellers” above.
- $4: all other 2pc+ sets, best sellers above that still look pretty good, tween and teen sizes.
- $3: well-worn but looks good best sellers.
- $2: everything else.
- $1: nothing (all my $2 stuff will go for $1 on half-price day).
If I’m not ready to put $2 on something that is probably only worth $2, I don’t sell it. I hang it in a closet where I see it. Maybe it is sentimental, and that is totally okay. I’ll get over it soon enough or find someone to give it to. When I do get over it, I slap $2 on it and don’t even blink.
Exceptions: there are always outlying exceptions to my hard-and-fast pricing rules. But I try to keep these to a minimum. This way, I’m not agonizing (and wasting time) over pricing.
Thoughts on Shoes:
- Used shoes can be awesome or totally gross. Know the difference.
- $5 is my max on any used shoes (buying and selling), unless they are new in box, in which case, I base price on my sale quality.
- $3 is my average on most used shoes.
- I slash all shoes to go half-price. My child is never wearing them again.
Thoughts on Baby Gear and Toys:
- I ask myself, “Is it truly worth more than $10?” If yes, I try to sell on Facebook or Craigslist first and see what happens. *I mention in my post that I am firm on price because I will be taking to a consignment sale at whatever date. People will make firm plans and don’t cheap me.
- I price everything else to-go.
- Furniture and other large items? I base price off others at the sale. (If mine is much better, I go a little higher. If mine is average, I go a little lower. If no one else is selling what I’ve got, I price based on how much I’d pay if I needed it right now.)
- Toys generally sell pretty well when priced to-go. I rarely come home with any because many other sellers consider it an even trade. Price points are hit or miss, so consider things that do not sell this time at a lower price for next time.
- Books/Puzzles/Games: $2 or $1, I don’t even think about it. There’s a million. Slash them for half-price too.
Things That Don’t Sell as Well as You’d Think:
- Baby clothes (anything under 12mo) – even unused bibs and hats (with tags!) get lost in the mountain of everyone else who was over-gifted with too much baby stuff.
- Baby accoutrements – blankets, crib sheets, towels, etc. Just like above. I either price it to-go, or donate what I love. I always feel better about myself.
- Tights, cute hair bows, unworn (still in package) socks/underwear. For whatever reason, there are always several in excellent condition left at the end of the sale.
Please Just Don’t…
- Used socks and underwear? Even if your sale allows this, have some shame.
- Ripped and/or stained items? This should go without say, but often doesn’t.
- Really ridiculously terrible hanging: do the shake test. If your item even nearly falls off for you, it will definitely end up on the floor, likely sooner rather than later.
Prepping Tips (throughout the year):
- I have an area of the house designated for consignment clothes, and I hang them immediately.
- I collect hangers throughout the year (every time I shop, I take the hangers). Helpful: plastic kid hangers, pants/skirt hangers, 2pc set hangers. (Unless your sale has a wire hanger policy, in which case, God bless you, I hate those things.)
- I collect safety pins at the end of each sale: God knows we don’t need to be manufacturing more of these (or paper clips) – recycle!
DONATIONS – I make up my mind in advance about what I will donate if it doesn’t sell. At this point, I’m at “everything” but I do not auto-donate at the end of the sale.
I like to see exactly what didn’t sell. This is helpful information for future sales. That said, I’m trying not to take anything home. All consignment sales have chosen charities and I support those my sale uses, and some of my leftovers end up going to a deserving friend.
BUYING & SELLING – through experience I have learned what kinds of things hold their value, making consignment sales a trade-venture as much as they are for cleaning out and buying my time. This has become a great way for me to keep toy inventory low (even with four kids!) but constantly rotate old and “new” stuff.
Did I forget anything? Please, add your tips in the comments below.