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As a mom of three messy little people I rarely buy new clothes. We do a majority of our shopping at consignment sales. If you are a newbie to the world of shopping consignment sales it can be very overwhelming. Thousands of garments, toys, books and shoes (not to mention equipment) overflowing from gyms and expo halls. Many times there isn’t room to even turn around, you just have to keep going forward!
How do you figure out what to buy and still leave with your sanity? How do you not over buy? It is a fine art of thinking quickly before someone else takes that hand smocked dress, and not leaving with 14 pairs of pants all the wrong sizes for your kids. I used to help run a non-profit sale in our area and here are the top things I learned from watching others:
- Have time to spare. Slow down and really look, not just fly through the racks. Since there typically aren’t large amounts of one item, there are a lot of items to choose from.
- Wear the right shoes. Simple but often overlooked.
- Know what you need. Go through your kids drawers the day before make a detailed list, also put clothing and shoe sizes on your list. I’ve seen some shoppers write this on their hands since your arms will filled with items.
- Measuring your children is often better than knowing sizes. A Gap size 6 isn’t the same as a Gymboree 6 etc. I take a cheap cloth measuring tape for each child in my purse with painters tape marking dress length, waist, foot size, and pant length. You won’t need to pull it out for every garment but it will be there if needed as a reference (your kids will probably enjoy helping you make it too).
- Go early!! If the sale starts at 7 am people line up at 6 am. Really they do. The best equipment and clothing goes first. Often the best quality is priced the same as some of the worst, so the first folks in the door not only get great condition items, but they get great deals!
- Take a laundry basket or rolling basket. You will not be able to carry everything in your arms. If you don’t have a basket with wheels loop a belt around the handle of a regular basket and pull it behind you. (I know it sounds funny but you won’t be the only one doing it).
- Be okay with lines. Just go prepared for a wait. Wait to get in and to check out. There are great deals but most of the times consignment sales have way more shoppers than volunteers so be patient and kind.
- Do a little research on the sale. This is an inside tip… consignment sales that run as businesses usually offer the sellers a lower percentage of their earnings over non-profit sales. Because of this your non-profit sales have much lower prices for the same item (held mostly at churches etc.) . The mom’s selling their clothes don’t have to mark the clothes at a higher price to compensate for the decrease in commission. (Sorry if you run one as a business, but it’s the truth.)
Do you have any big tips for shopping consignment sales??