Consignment Events – Getting rid of the clutter!

Ever feel like you’re in a never-ending battle with kids’ toys. I know I do! I pick up toys more times in a day than I can count.  Then there’s laundry! I feel like my kids have more clothes than me!

Clutter-CleanI am in no way an organizer when it comes to my kids stuff.  If you ever see my house like this picture, I would call the police because someone broke in and cleaned up! Though I don’t think I’d press charges, but rather hire them to clean more. This is just not my personality.  Ironically, I do like things orderly, but I don’t like cleaning up after other people.  Even if those other people are tiny versions of me running around.

Because I struggle with the cleaning, I tend to get frustrated when things aren’t clean. It’s a never ending cycle. So what’s a mom to do? After a year of consignment shopping, I finally decided to get my feet wet with consigning items myself. I know there are many blogs out there telling you how to consign items, what to price them, etc etc.  I’m going to have those notes too.  However, I want to take you on my magical consignment journey first! It’s like rainbows and unicorns without all that rainbows and unicorn stuff.

My first time consigning, ever, I consigned about 50 items total.  Nothing to really brag about, but again, I was just getting my feet wet. I did mostly clothes, with a few other items. My sales sucked.  Like I literally got a $12 check after all was said and done. $12 dollars?! The amount of work I did for those 50 items and only $12. It was depressing to say the least.

So like you, I did more research in to this consignment event sales thing. I realized that I need to really have 100+ items, but ideally 200+ items, especially if they’re clothes. I need to try to sell big ticket items, like strollers, rocking chairs, cribs, etc. if I want to see the big bucks come through.

So I made notes, and started combing my house.  I realized that we only really use 1 stroller, not the three we had.  So I marked the other two to consign. I also had a lot more clothes to purge this time around and was much more aware of my pricing. I also marked ALL of my clothing items to go half-price on that sale day. Score babyAnd you may have guessed it, but my sales did much better. I was consigning through Kid’s Closet Connection and they had three events in town. I consigned for two of the events and made over $250 – that’s after the consignment fees and franchise commissions. I was able to pay for all the items I purchased at the events with the money I made from the events!

BIG SCORE! After that, I was sold. It was so exhilarating to know all that hard work paid off.

So now I’m in my 2nd year of consigning. It’s tough to get organized, sort, clean, etc, but I know the payout is real. It makes the work worth it, especially when I just bought six months worth of items including clothes, shoes, games, toys and books that I didn’t end up paying a dime for after all was said and done. So here are some of my tips and tricks.

BE PREPARED! (I always think of Jeremy Irons as Scar from the Lion King singing this…) It’s so true. Do not wait until the last minute to try to consign items. Keep tabs on the event you wish to consign with. Know the dates like when the consigners can sign up, when databases are open and dates that consigners are required to drop off their clothes.

  • As your kids grow out of clothes between sales, put the smaller clothes aside. Even better – buy clear plastic bins to store them.
  • Same with toys, as your kids grow out of toys or you notice they just don’t play with certain ones (or your hate for a certain toy has reached the point of wanting to take a flame torch to it), store them away early so the kids won’t miss them by the time you’re ready to sell them.
  • Determine your need of bigger items, like strollers, car seats, etc. If you do not need them anymore because kids grew out of them, store them in a spot you can get to them later.
  • Things to buy in preparation for the next steps:
    • Hangers – lots and lots of hangers. I recommend kid hangers for kid clothes as adult hangers will stretch them. You can typically find lots on Facebook, Craigslist, etc for cheap or free.
    • Safety pins – BIG ONES – I have found larger safety pins are easier to use than the smaller ones. Amazon sells them for cheap or you can find them at your local Walmart in the sewing section.
    • Packing tape – you will need this for any plastic toys that you can’t use a safety pin.
    • Spare Batteries – toys must work! They must have working batteries. Make sure you have those AAA and AA’s on hand.
    • Tagging Gun – this is handy for clothes, but not a necessary item. Pins do the trick just fine. Tagging guns are just quicker (for me at least).
    • Washi Tape/Duct Tape – This is to flag your hangers. Some consignment companies will pull all your items for you, most will not. The tape helps you find your items without having to dig to deep. Washi tape is easier to use, but I find duct tape sticks better – to each their own.
    • Plastic Bins/Clothes Rack/Table – these are all nice to have but not necessary. A table to work at is nice. It’s easy to stand or sit at and clean, tag, organize, etc. You can spread out, which is important. Clothes rack is nice since you have to hang a lot of clothes and don’t just want them to get dirty again. Plastic bins to store items between events and use for odd-shaped items during the prep.

Sort, Organize and Clean. It’s critical that you really look at and sort your items. Is this resell-able? I always ask myself: Would I purchase this as it looks now? If the answer is no, determine if you could clean it to make it look better. If not, consider donating it instead. This is especially true of clothes.

  • Sort and organize items in to age groups and gender groups if necessary.  Clothes – this is easy, look at the tag. Toys, this can be a bit tricky. Google is my friend if the toy does not say age ranges. Many times the box does, but that’s long gone by this point. Bigger items will have manufacturer info. ALWAYS LOOK THIS UP. It is illegal to resell expired or recalled items (and just plain irresponsible).
  • Cleaning is such an important part of this process. The Magic Eraser is your friend! Make sure clothes are clean and nicely hung (more below). Make sure toys are wiped down and no grubby hand marks are anywhere to be seen. Bigger items need a good wipe down too. I go so far as to wash the wheels on strollers so they look more appealing to a buyer.

This is my actual consignment corner! You can see the clothes are hung, items are under the table and stuff is in bins. It’s organized for me! Set-up a place you can work without interruptions.

A note (long sermon) on clothes. Clothes are what everyone is selling at these events. When you realize that most kids only wear their clothes from 0-24 months for about 3 months at a time, you can see how these can really flood the consignment market. Also, unless your pre-teen or teen grew up on consignment/thrift stores, they will probably not be to eager to buy or wear clothes from this kind of event – thus teen clothing is typically the hardest to sell. Be discerning about what you consign in clothes. Most consignment companies do not allow you to sell clothes that are missing buttons, zippers or have any kinds of holes. As a seller, you should also be a little responsible and realize that this will be going on someone else’s child – have some integrity!

  • Fels Naptha Bar Soap – this is amazing for organic stains like poo.  So many stories come to mind that start with… Well, “baby” blew out of their diaper again…
  • Shout (or other products) – for oil and food stains really helps.
  • Bleach for whites – yes, it really does work.
  • Steam your clothes! It’s important to do a quick steam on them.  I don’t have a steamer (something on my list), but I do have a friend who has one. I borrow her steamer when I need to get those stubborn wrinkles out.  Otherwise, iron the really bad ones. Wrinkles will hinder clothes sales. Make sure your clothes stand out.
  • Hang your clothes in an appealing way.  Do not leave buttons unbuttoned or collars out. Make sure shirt and pant hems are down (and stay down with an iron).
  • Bundle your clothes! You can usually garner better sales if you create an outfit from your items. Try not to sell pieces individually. I sell onesies in a set of 3 usually. I try to link nicer shirts with jeans or slacks. I also try to pair items that just look nice together – like a NFL onesie top with a team color pant. You can usually get a little more bang for your buck if you just take a minute to put these together.
  • Don’t sell winter clothes for an upcoming summer and vise versa! Some consignment events will not let you sell swimwear in their fall event or Halloween outfits in their spring event. Que Sera Sera. But as a seller, you should also be aware of this even if there are no restrictions. Most of the time, these items WON’T SELL and you’ve wasted your time and a little money to prep this item for it’s doom.
  • Sew popped hems or missing/loose buttons. This is sewing 101. Most people can sew a quick button on or a popped hem – if you don’t know, ask a friend to help. Even if this doesn’t look perfect tailored professional, it’s now sell-able.
  • Be careful about pinning.  Don’t pull or tug too hard when pinning or you can make a much larger hole in the clothes.  Try to stay in the hems or on the actual interior tags if possible.

Ticketing/Pricing. OK, you’ve done all your organizing and are now ready to enter info into the consignment database. The database will typically have a place for an Item Description, Price, Size, “discount” – half price day, and “donate” – which means the item at the end of the event is donated to the organization they’re working with. This is a nice option if you want to just do one and done!

  • Ticketing is important. It needs to be seen. If there are bar codes, they need to be legible. If it has color, it needs to be printed in color. Every event franchisee has different rules. You must make sure you follow their rules or they will not put your items on the floor.
    • I worked with one event that the tickets were quite easy. You printed on your printer on card stock paper. There were 8 to a page and you just cut it out and pinned or taped it on your item.
    • Another event required I buy specific sized slung white blank tickets, then printed the actual item label on mailer label paper and wrapped it on these blank tickets. It’s a hassle, but it helps the cashiers when they’re at the check-out.
    • Rules are rules.  If you want to sell, you play by the rules!
    • Include a DETAILED description of the item. Sometimes, items lose their ticket, either by accident or intent. In either case, it’s important your ticket has a detailed description of the item. “Brown teddy bear” is a horrible description. “TY Baby Brown Teddy Bear with Blue Eyes” is a much better description. Just find something unique about that item, and make sure that is listed in the description.
  • Pricing. Part of ticketing is pricing. You want to make sure your items garner you as much moolah as possible, but you don’t want them to not sell at all. It’s totally a balance. Clothes, even if you spent $100, sell for cheap. I have yet to price any clothing item over $10. I typically stay below $5 unless it’s a nice outfit or name-brand item. Some franchises will say their items sell for 60-90% less than retail. This can help you get an idea on your bigger items. This means that you should be selling items for about 40% all the way down to 10% of their retail price. This may seem low, but remember, you USED this item already.  Even if you only used it once, it’s now USED. Much like a car – it’s retail value plummets the minute it’s out of the box. I sold my Grayco Stroller and Car Seat system for $60. It was originally $140. But here’s the key – I SOLD IT. Someone realized this was a steal for them so they bought it. I used it for maybe 3 months and would have loved to sell it for more. But I knew that if I wanted this item to really sell, I needed to keep it lower.
    • Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Offer-up and other websites like this are a great comparison tool for items you’re unsure about.
    • Look up the original item on Amazon or the manufacturer’s website to compare actual retail price.
    • If your item is missing components that are not essential to the item function, depending on the organization it can be sold, but remember you want to make it cheap-cheap.  Someone else might be selling the same thing with all its components.  This is especially true of items like floor gyms that have all those dangley things that can come off, barbie toys with a missing shoe, or toy kitchen sets with missing pots and pans.

It’s great when you make that first sale and it continues through the event. Getting that money at the end of it all makes the work so worth it!

Girl with Money

It’s always good to just get your feet wet before you really dive in.  Pick a few high ticket items that you think have a good chance of selling and prep them. Invite friends to help you too! This shows you the true power of friendship – someone who is willing to come over and help you tag 200+ items! Just make it a positive experience. Know that this is a way to help you pay for needed items for your kids while also purging those items collecting dust.