22 January 2010

Consignment Love

The season has begun! Consignment season that is...

I love, love, LOVE children's consignment sales. Why? Because kids barely wear their stuff before they move up a size, so you can get almost brand new items for pennies on the dollar!  We definitely would not be able to afford to buy a whole new wardrobe for Little Man each season at full-retail, so consignment sales are essential to his wardrobe. (And generous grandparents are really helpful too!) Some people find wearing/using other peoples items a bit sketchy...thankfully I'm not one of them.

Up until this point, I've gotten really into buying toys & "big ticket" items at consignment sales. Some things I've gotten at consignment sales are Snap-n-Go stroller ($10)Bounce-n-Spin Zebra ($20)Little Tikes Swing ($2),  Little Tikes Workbench ($12)LT Sports Toy ($5), and the list goes on. Well as you can imagine with all of that and the recent addition of Christmas presents, I'm now on a "no more toys in my house until Little Man's Second Birthday" kick because we have way more than he even plays with.

Just like couponing, I'm picky about what I'll buy at a consignment sale and how much I'll pay for certain items. Here are a few steps I follow in order to having a successful consigning experience:

1. If at all possible, be a consignor or volunteer.  A MAJOR benefit of consigning/volunteering is you get to shop early before all the good stuff is gone! I've gotten so many great deals and high quality clothing items by shopping this way. Another bonus is you clear out some of the clutter around your house and make money on it - wahoo! Many clothing sales will give you a higher percentage of your sales if you volunteer (for example - our MOPS clothing sale generally gives consignors 50% of what their clothes sell for, but you receive 65% if you volunteer).

2. Inventory the clothes you have for the upcoming season. Last week I did a quick inventory of what Little Man had for spring & summer. Turns out he has plenty of 18month shorts & a few pair of 24month/2T that I bought on clearance last year. Of course he's moving into 24month clothing now, so I doubt those 18month shorts are going to get a lot of use but I tried a couple of pair on him anyway. I think they will work for those early warm weather days, but now I know I need to be on the lookout for 24month/2T shorts and lots of tops. He'll need some shoes too, but I'm a bit funny about buying shoes. Not because I don't like second-hand (I love it!), but because I've been burned more than once with foot growth spurts. I try to wait until we need the next size up, then check out local consignment stores or places like TJ Maxx to see what's around.

3. Make a list of what you need. Consignment sales can often be overwhelming and you can get caught up in the moment, then you get home and think "Did I really need to buy ALL of these toys?" Make a list & do your best to stick to it. Of course you can always be flexible if you run across a really great deal (like a huge box of 250 Duplo Blocks for $6!). The list will definitely help you remember what you've come for.

4. Set your standards. I've always had champagne taste on a beer budget. I like for Little Man to be dressed in Polo and Baby Gap. Yes, I can be a bit snobby when it comes to clothe, and No, he's not always dressed in those brands. However, name brands are certainly what I look for at consignment sales because they often mean better quality and will last longer. I also set mental price limits, like I don't want to pay more than $4 for single piece of clothing. Usually it's more like $2-3 unless it's a great name brand and in really good condition. Another reason I say to look for brands is because sometimes there will be a Target or Walmart brand t-shirt marked for $3. Just in the last two days I've seen t-shirts brand new for $3.50 & $4 at both of those stores. To me, it's just not worth saving at most $1 for something that's used.

5. Set your plan of attack & have fun! Use resources, like Consignment Mommies, to find and plan for local sales. Leave your little ones with your husband on Saturday mornings and go shop! My girlfriends and I like to make an event out of it. We'll meet for an early breakfast, then head out to the sales. It's so much more fun when shared with others!

Let me show you how I've used this to really help me save some big $$...
I already told you I took my inventory last week and know what I need to fill up Little Man's wardrobe for the coming warm months. So, with list in hand I headed out to a HUGE consignment sale where my parents live (seriously, this sale takes up 2 fair ground buildings...talk about overwhelming!). I headed straight for the clothes because that's the only thing I needed (I did pass by some really cute toys along the way, but I stayed strong!). I combed through all the 2T clothing and only came away with 3 pieces. You know why, because I didn't consign or volunteer so I couldn't shop early! I missed most of the good stuff...bummer. I did manage to buy 3 great pieces for $2 each...(1)Baby Gap blue cargo shorts, (2)Gymboree t-shirt that matches the Gap shorts to make an adorable summertime outfit, (3)Cherokee brand blue & white stripe knit collared shirt. The last item is usually something I wouldn't buy (because of my brand issues at consignment sales), but it was a great price and looked brand new. I doubt it had ever even been worn. I considered it a great buy & know Little Man will get lots of wear out of it. If I bought those three items at full-retail, I would have easily paid close to $40, but I only paid $6! That's a savings of $34 on just three items!

Well, as you can tell I'm pumped about consigning season & hope you have lots of fun with it too!

Check out lots of other frugal ideas at Life as Mom.

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