Consignment Sale Tips
Shopping at a children’s clothing consignment sale event is the best way to efficiently buy everything your child needs at a fraction of retail. Sure, you may be able to buy their clothes, shoes, toys, games, and more for cheaper at garage sales, but most of us don’t have hours every weekend (or the gas money) to devote to trolling the neighborhood for deals. I love that I can head to my local consignment sale event and in a couple of hours walk away with almost everything my family needs for the next season.
If you’re ready to start saving, here are 9 tips to help you make the most of children’s consignment sale events:
Get a babysitter. Consignment sale shopping is serious business and little people’s sole purpose in life is to slow you down, so best to leave the kids at home. The only exception is if you’re shopping for an older child who prefers to select his/her own clothing. I sometimes bring my older kids (8 and 10) and have my daughter wear a tank under her shirt so she can quickly try tops on while we’re shopping. I can usually tell if my son’s shirts will fit by holding it up to his back to check for length and width (older kids shirts can get short and wide after years of washing). But even the older kids get tired of shopping after 37 minutes and mama needs more than that to get everything accomplished. Just leave the troops at home.
Go through your kids’ closets beforehand and bring a detailed list of the items you need to purchase. This will keep you focused on the task at hand and keep you from wandering to the newborn section to oh-and-ah over all the tiny cuteness.
Take your kids’ pant measurements and bring a sewing measuring tape to make sure pants are the correct length. Pants are notorious for shrinking in the wash, and sometimes the label size is not the best indicator of the actual size. Measure from the crotch to the hem of a pair of pants that fit your child right now and then measure all inseams at the sale. I also saw an interesting way to make sure clothes fit before buying them on Pinterest.
Leave your purse or diaper bag at home and bring a small across-the-shoulder pocketbook. Or just shove your money and phone in your pocket and shop sans bags. You don’t need one more thing to lug around and there’s a slight chance something could get lost or stolen during the sale.
Eat beforehand and bring a water bottle. There is really no quick in-and-out trips with consignment events, especially the really big ones and these sales don’t typically have snack shacks. Fuel up so you can shop without distraction.
Wear comfortable, layered clothing. There’s no telling if the building will be warm or cold, so be prepared for both. Wear comfy shoes and pants are a must as you’ll probably be squatting down or on your knees as you comb through the bottom racks of clothing.
Shop early if you can. Consignors always get to shop during the pre-sale event, which means you get to hit the event before the general public. The earlier you shop, the better deals you will find. You can also typically get in early if you volunteer to work at the sale for four or more hours or if you’re pregnant for the first time, a new parent, or a foster parent. Check the sale’s website a few weeks in advance to see if you can get into the sale early and then clear your schedule.
Check multiple clothing size sections. I have no idea how this happens, but clothing gets shoved in the wrong section all the time. If I’m shopping for 2T girls clothing, I always whip through the 18-24 months and 3T to make sure I didn’t miss any awesome deals. It’s also worth checking to see if, say, a 3T top has shrunk enough to fit a 2T.
BONUS TIP: When shopping for babies and toddlers, make sure you shop three sizes: the child’s current size (or the size you’re shopping for), the next smaller size, and the next bigger size. Sizing on baby clothes is always confusing, and consignors and volunteers often put clothing in a section you wouldn’t expect.
For instance, Carter’s clothing marked 18 months is standard size 12-18 months, so it should be in the 12-18 month section, but I often find it in the 18-24 month section and sometimes in the 9-12 month section. Circo from Target is the same way. Old Navy does 12-18 months on the tag, but that stuff shrinks so much that I often buy the next size up with no problem. And I believe there are some brands (Oshkosh?) that tags clothing 12 months for standard 12-18 months. Confusing, right? The moral is check a bunch of sections and don’t always trust the labels.
Prepare for a possibly long checkout line. Depending on the time you shop, you may be standing in line for 30 minutes or more, so be prepared. Bring waiting supplies (snacks, water, a book), a fully-charged screen for any kids you have tagging along (Seriously, you’re not going to bring them, are you? Please re-read tip #1.), and make sure you go to the bathroom before getting in line. If you are shopping with a buddy and the line is exceptionally long, take turns standing in line and shopping (obviously only do this with one friend as it’s probably super rude to save a place for your entire friend group).
This post is underwritten by Just Between Friends. JBF has two absolutely monster sales coming to the Portland Metro area every spring and fall (Portland and Salem). Make sure you “like” Just Between Friends Portland on Facebook to get sale updates!
Ready to start saving? Check out our extensive list of upcoming consignment sales in the Pacific Northwest here and plan to hit one up in your area!
Check out our other posts on children’s consignment sales:
7 items you might not expect to find at a children’s consignment sale
6 reasons I’ve ditched garage sales for consignment events for my kids’ clothes
The benefits of selling your kids’ clothes at a consignment sale
Plus don’t miss our huge list of Baby Gear Deals!
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I once put my children on consignment, but no one bought them. 🙁