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6 ways to be successful at consignment sales

With these neverending Chicago winters upon us, I long for spring for more than a few reasons. Warm days where the kids can play outside. Opening my windows to feel the breeze and air out the inside of the house. And finding great bargains at garage sales.

So what’s a thrifty girl to do? Get hooked up with children’s consignment sales! There are many options; from your local church and school sales to companies like Rhea Lana’s of West Chicagoland, which hold twice a year “consignment events.”

So how do you get involved and actually MAKE MONEY at consigning your much-loved-but-still-in-excellent-condition children’s items? Here are my helpful hints:

Follow the directions

All consignment sales have very specific instructions on how to label, hang, bag, tag, list and organize your items for sale. Don’t go rogue; do what they are telling you to do. They are experts – they’ve literally done this with MILLIONS of items. I know that some of the listing and tagging directions seem overwhelming in their detail; I promise you there is a VERY good reason for the minutia. The first time you do it, it takes a while. Have a friend come over to help and put an assembly line together.

Make sure you stay organized because nothing is worse than scouring through the racks of a consignment sale, finding the perfect outfit for your adorable child, only to get to the checkout and discover that there are no tags on it. No tags = no consignor information, which means your garment can’t be sold. Isn’t that the point? To sell your stuff?? It’ll get easier the more times you do it.

Price things to sell

You might have paid a fortune for that Burberry dress your daughter wore for her third birthday – but is anyone else going to? Set a fair price for garments and leave the sentimental items at home.

Group like items together to create outfits – they sell better because customers feel they are getting a better value. And don’t be afraid to let things go for half price towards the end of the sale. If they are new with the tags on them you can generally price them a little higher.

Remember you are merchandising your items to sell to customers. Keep that mindset, look at your things through those eyes, and it will help with your selections of what to include.

If your kid won’t wear that juice-stained shirt, why should mine?

Inspect your items with a critical eye. If things seemed pilled, faded from washing, too old or out of style or – gasp – stained, donate it outright or just get rid of it. Hold it up to the light – can you see stains through it? Consignment sales generally carry higher-end brands, but the more economical brands of children’s clothes still sell if they are in excellent condition. Things with stains won’t sell; don’t waste your time.

Does this thing work???

If you are getting rid of toys, books, games, sports equipment, or baby furniture (depending on the sale), make sure that all of the pieces are intact, boxes are sealed shut and labeled correctly, and that they have batteries so that people can see items are in good working condition. Owner’s manuals and assembly instructions are always good to attach to your items if you still have them – it’s a great selling point versus another similar item on the shelf.

Find ways to shop ahead of the crowds

Most consignment sales survive with a huge staff of volunteers paid with golden tickets, aka the “early shopping passes.” Volunteer to distribute marketing materials, help set up or tear down, offer up your hubby for the heavy stuff, or volunteer to work a few shifts during the sale (some sales require this – Rhea Lana’s of West Chicagoland does not, but rewards their volunteers with different level passes based on how many shifts they work).

While there are great finds at every point during a consignment sale, I’ve seen women RUN for a six foot stuffed animal at a pre-sale event. You have the pick of the ENTIRE sale, why wouldn’t you want to shop early? Plus, it’s fun to volunteer at the sale. At least, I always have fun volunteering!

Donate, donate, donate

Many consignment events give back to the community when their sale is finished. Consignors have an option to donate anything that didn’t sell to local women and children’s shelters. I love this idea, and I have always donated any of my items that didn’t sell (which, on average, is about 20 percent of my total list). I got it of my house once; I certainly don’t want to bring it back in! Plus, I’m helping out others in need. Win-win in my book.

Armed with this helpful information, I hope that you find a consignment sale near you and clear out some of the toys, clothes and kid-clutter in your houses and make yourself a little mad money. Who couldn’t use a few extra dollars for a fun girl’s night or a date night?

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