Insider Tips for Shopping Consignment Sales Like a ROCKSTAR

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How to get the BEST deals at consignment sales! Get the insider tips at www.makinglemonadeblog.com #kids #budget

Last week I shared some insider secrets on how to make BIG BUCKS selling your outgrown things at consignment sales.  Now, where do you think we got all the things to sell at the consignment sales to begin with?  That’s the beauty of this whole system: you buy it in great used condition, take good care of it, and resell it later.  Sure, you might not make money per se– but you’ll get your milage out of something and then get some cash back to buy more.  Kinda nice, right?

A friend clued me in to the amazing assortment of items available at consignment sales, and since then I haven’t looked back.  Here are my insider tips to help you…

Okay, so I can’t exactly see Lady Gaga shopping consignment sales.  But you can channel your inner {thrifty} rockstar and get the best stuff, for the best prices, by following a few of the insider secrets below.

Before
Believe it or not, the real work begins before the sale.  The better prepared you are, the more likely you are to score what you really want.

Find the right sale.  What types of items are you looking for?  More affluent areas will typically have higher priced but higher quality merchandise, Moms of Multiples sales will have A LOT of everything, and Moms of Multiples sales in an affluent area are a goldmine. 😉  I enjoy larger sales because with more competition comes better, more competitive prices.  That being said, I can stock up on basics at one type of sale and fabulous tops and dresses at others.  Find sale dates and locations on Craig’s List, local moms groups, Consignment Mommies, word of mouth, and hyper-local blogs.

Know your price points for each type of item and brand.  I’ll tell you what– I go crazy for Baby Gap, Lilly Pulitzer, Talbots, Gymboree, Old Navy, Children’s Place, Janie and Jack, Polo, Crewcuts, Cherokee, and pajamas from Carter’s.  There’s a wide range of price points in there, but those are the brands that fit my kids, our style, and our budget.  I know what I’ll pay for each brand at each price point and I’ll stick to it.  Keep in mind how much the brand wears, too.  Some brands just don’t last as long, and you’ll want to put your money in stuff that will hold up well.  It’s hard, in the moment, to resist something you really love so having a guide is a lifesaver.  I’ll gladly pay $8 for a Lilly dress but I’d balk at spending that on a used one from Carters– especially since you can but it retail NEW for the same amount on sale.

I went a little crazy with the color Kelly Green this year… here’s what I found for Noodle with labels such as BabyGap, Talbots, and Ralph Lauren.  Prices ranged from $2-$3 each.

Make a list of your wants and needs.  A list ensures you stay on track and don’t forget to look for certain important items.  Put a star next to your MOST needed items, and head there first during the sale to scoop the best that section has to offer.  I always head to the big plastic outdoor type stuff first since those are the things that get snapped up in a second.  In the past I’ve gotten a slide, a Little Tikes basketball hoop, a Step 2 wagon, ride-on toys, and a workbench.  Water tables and sandboxes are gone in the blink of an eye.

This new-in-the-box Fisher Price toy was $6.  Hello, birthday gift for Bee!

Write down sizes and measurements.  Since standards of sizing are different for just about every brand, it’s more helpful to have actual measurements on hand.  Trace a shoe onto cardstock and you’ll have an easy sizing guide, or a tape measure/yarn marked with inseam and waist sizes. 

‘Werk it.’  Volunteer ahead of time.  Not only will you scope out the goods, but they’ll let you shop early during the worker sale.  Win-win!

Know how you’ll pay, and have it ready.  Some sales only accept cash, and if that’s the case you’ll want to have it on hand if you find that killer thing you MUST have.

During
Ready? It’s game time.

Get there early.  Yes, you might have to wait in line but you can head right toward the section starred on your “wants” list.  If you wait until later in the day the best things (at the best prices) have been snapped up.

The MegaBlocks Pirate Ship ($5) and Thomas Ride-On ($6) didn’t make it past the front door before my little sweeties got ahold of them.

Bring a bag.  Okay, I don’t always do this because the sales I’ve visited provide them.  But if not, there’s nothing like one of those big blue IKEA bags to cart your stuff around the sale and keep your hands free for browsing.

Try to leave kids and strollers at home.  I know this isn’t always possible, and certainly if you have to bring them you should.  But you’ll be much more relaxed and have an easier time really looking things over if you go solo.  Plus, none of the “mom, pleeeeeease can I have this tooooyyyyyyy?”  Also keep in mind some sales don’t allow strollers at all.

Grab now, scan later.  If you see something you might want, put it in your bag.  Then when you’ve gathered everything you want, find a quiet spot and go through your pile.  Sort it into Yes, No, and Maybe.  If your Yes pile is light, you can add some of those Maybes in there.  Check REALLY CAREFULLY for stains, tears, and wear.  Look under tags, under collars, on bottoms of pants, etc.  I’d like to think sellers only put stained clothing out for sale accidentally, but… well, let’s just say that stains even get past me and I’m super careful.  Be sure to put your “No” items back where they belong, it’s the nice thing to do.  Karma, friends!

My “yes” pile

Look below and above your desired size.  For example, Gymboree clothing runs big.  You might find something in 2T that would fit your 3T child.  Also, things get busy at sales and not everyone puts things back perfectly {tsk, tsk!}  You may be surprised at what you’d find that would fit your child above and below their true size.

Hartstrings cardigan ($3) and more Lilly stuff– new with tags!
After
The hard work is over, now’s the time to soak up the glow of your awesomeness!

Store in closed bag or wash immediately in hot water.  Alright, this is the germaphobe in me.  If I can’t wash the clothes immediately, I’ll store them in a plastic bag tied off in the garage.  Don’t ask me why.  It just makes me feel better.  Okay, and there’s the whole bedbugs and lice thing which I’m SURE never happens but if it does I do not want to be a part of it.  I do try to wash off all toys in vinegar water to disinfect but sometimes my little muchkins grab them before I get a chance. 

Take a photo of your haul and email me.  I want to see what you’ve scored!  After all, half the fun is showing off all the money you’ve saved.  Here’s a few of my big deals from one sale last weekend (including what’s in the photos above, too):

Keens retail for $50 new, grabbed a ‘like new’ pair for Bee– just $8!
Found three Gymboree bathing suit/rash guard sets for $8… grabbed all of them because I know my nephew can use them as well.
That ziplock bag in the middle was filled with 15 Level 1 readers in new condition– for $2 TOTAL.
 
Grabbed some classic games for $2 each
Continuing our Lion King obsession for just $3. (Tip: if the box isn’t taped shut, check the DVD for scratches before buying)

Plus a few more things, but I’m afraid you’ll call the hoard police if I show any more.  And I really don’t want the hoard police to show up on my doorstep– especially since it’s currently being blocked by a pirate ship and huge Thomas train.

 What are your tricks for getting the best deals?  What items are highest on your list?  While we’re at it,  go ahead– brag about your best find(s)!  Us consignment divas are all in this together.
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4 Comments

  1. This is so right on. Twice a year, I sell at our Columbus Mother’s of Twins Club sale. And shop as well. These are wonderful tips! I think that so much money goes down the drain, and I can’t believe how much people will pay for certain brands, when they have no clue how much they cost in real life or how they fit. You are so right on. You HAVE to know your brands, how they’ll fit, and how they’ll wear. Amen, sister, amen!

  2. I just started shopping them this year, and these tips are so right-on! I think in my area, they’re starting to end right now, and I’m already feeling the itch! Bring on yard sale season!

  3. Last year was my first time shopping at the city kids consignment sale and I got a graco 4ever car seat for 90$ it’s a 270$ seat and it was in perfect condition I was impressed actually cause I have ocd ? so this week I’m consigning at the sale for the first time I’ve read all ur tips ty

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