When you first become a parent, buying children’s items is kind of a rush – at least, it was for me. The itty-bitty booties, the right diaper bag, the softest blankets… it was all so new and so fun! Most people I know are gifted with a lot when their kids are born, so the financial reality of children doesn’t hit all at once. For us, it was a few months in, when diapers and formula were a common item on the grocery list, that reality started to set in.
And then our girl started to grow. And by the time she was 1 year old, she was in 24-month clothing.
We recently unpacked five boxes of infant girl things from our storage unit. FIVE. And we’ve already passed on most of the bedding and towels and whole seasons of clothing onto to friends. There’s just that much of it.
Around the same time we were unloading our storage unit, friends started talking about getting their items ready for a local consignment sale. Other friends invited me to take part in a garage sale with them, and it coincided with consignment sale weekend.
When it was all said and done, I was about $140 richer and a whole lot wiser to the world of resale.
Consignment Sales: Here in the midwest, consignment sales are common. I participated in one that rents 16,000 square feet of space and holds a sale for four days twice a year. For $10, I am able to sell my gently used kids items and receive a 60% comission. For volunteering to help with the sale (set up, cashiering, tear down), I can earn additional percentages. Beforehand, I entered descriptions of all of my items and set my prices. The organizers provided a pricing guide, but in the end, I set my own prices.
How the clothes sold: The best of the best sold pretty well. Nothing with wear or any staining was accepted, so of the 35 or so items I brought, only about 5 were left at the end of the sale.
How the toys sold: All of the toys I brought sold at full price. The great thing about used toys is that unless they’ve been used outside, it’s hard to tell they’ve been used. Wooden toys and plastic toys seemed to sell equally well at about 50% their retail cost.
Surprises: Costumes and dance shoes sold really well, and rumor has it that furniture and strollers practically sell themselves the minute the sale opens.
Consignment Stores: We have a few consignment stores in town that are either franchises or independently owned. They are currently all FILLED with items; it seems like more and more people are trying to sell their things as opposed to simply donating them. Because of this, the stores have gotten extremely selective about what they accept. I suggest calling ahead and finding out what sizes and items they are looking for and what they absolutely aren’t accepting.
How the clothes sold: I have to admit, I was disappointed. The person inspecting my items appeared to be more picky than the consignment sale, which I didn’t think was possible.
How the toys sold: They accepted a lot of what I had (I brought a batch over before committing to the consignment sale), but in retrospect, I could have gotten more money at the consignment sale. Still, in the future, if I have a tote full of items ready to leave the house, taking the toys here isn’t a bad option.
Garage Sales: Two friends and I pooled our things together (in my case, it was the summer things the fall sale didn’t want and some fall things they didn’t accept) and we ended up with a driveway full of girls clothing and household items.
How the clothes sold: Since we were dealing in volume, it worked out OK. About 95% of what we had was on a table marked $0.50 per piece. People got sneaky with what was marked otherwise, and we chose to look the other way. A dress that was new with tags when we put it on the rack came to us with no tags and a price sticker marking it $1 instead of the $5 we had put on it the night before. I saw a guy take a $3 jacket and shove it in the middle of stack of $0.50 items. I just smiled and nodded and accepted whatever they gave me.
How the toys sold: People didn’t try to cheat us like they did on the clothes, but only a few toys sold.
Surprises: We were very surprised when we counted the pot at the end of the day. A bazillion $0.50 sales really did add up, and it added up in cash, but it was a ton of work. We did the work, however, with rum punch in one hand, so I’m not really complaining.
Overall, I think the consignment sale will be the way to go when I have things to unload in the future. It means that I need to do a better job of stain removal, and it means that at the end of the season I have to carefully fold everything neatly instead of cramming it into plastic bags.
Since my kids are only getting older and their clothes are only getting more expensive, I think it will be well worth it!
What do you do with things your kids outgrow? Do you pass it on? Donate it? Sell it?