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Saturday, September 6, 2014

My First Consignment Sale

I've been to dozens of consignment sales before, but always as a shopper. I have never "had enough stuff" to make selling worth it, so I never looked into it. Lately, I've had a serious case of getridofcrapitis resulting in a tremendous pile of clothes, gear, and toys that we just. don't. need. Things that are outgrown, unused, and unwanted - things that we could get rid of to declutter while making some cash.

I've held onto so many old clothes from the kids, things that I absolutely adore, and while I'll keep my absolute favorites, the chances of us having another kid that aligns with that exact sex, size, and season are slim. Considering I built up these wardrobes inexpensively through consignment, there's no reason I couldn't do it again if the reason presented itself (don't worry, it won't for a long time).

I've been collecting things up for a while now, keeping boxes in each kid's room and throwing things in as they've come up. Out of sight, out of mind and honestly, I haven't missed any of it. Time to go! I am such a pack rat at heart, but living in an apartment, I just can't keep everything. There are plenty of others out there who would love to buy it on the cheap, so why not.

A few days ago, I logged into my Just Like New consigners account and started checking out the prepping process. Lesson #1: Start prepping earlier. Giving myself two weeks to inventory, tag, and organize everything is not enough time! I truly had no idea what it took to prep for a sale, so you get to benefit from my procrastination! Here is what I've learned from prepping for my first sale.

Finding a Sale
Aside from thinking I didn't have enough stuff, I didn't know what sale to take part in or how to find one. A lot of times, I found out about sales last minute - entirely too late to enter as a consigner.

Consignment sales typically run on a seasonal rotation. Following the organization on Facebook or signing up for their newsletter is a great way to get a heads up about their next sale. Mark you calendar for consigner deadlines and start gathering up items!

Gathering Supplies
I didn't even think of what I'd need for the sale while I was saving up my items. What I should have been doing was saving those ugly plastic store hangers and safety pins all along. Now I need to go buy cheap baby hangers and a box of pins, which are inexpensive, but I'm here to make money not spend money!

Pricing Items
How do I know what something is worth?! A good rule of thumb is to mark it for about 40% of the original price. Adjust the price up (comes with accessories, is new with tags, or a high end brand name) or down (older, a little worn, or a lower end brand) from there.

Brand is an important factor in selling clothes. Knowing how a brand is perceived is very helpful in pricing it appropriately.

  • Bargain Brands: Circo, Granimals, Just One You, Genuine Kids, Jumping Beans
  • Mid-Range Brands: Old Navy, Children's Place, Osh Kosh, Carters, Crazy 8
  • Higher End Brands: Gymboree, Gap, Polo, Hannah Andersson, Janie & Jack

Size also affects how you should price things. Infant items will flood the "market" since babies go through clothes so quickly. They're usually in better shape and huge quantity. Price these competitively or in bundles. Toddler clothing (3T and up) is harder to find in good shape and there will be less of it. Toddlers are harder on their clothes and wear them for significantly longer than infants. A good quality, clean, well priced toddler outfit is like gold at a consignment sale!

Prepping Items for Display
Think of times you've gone to consignment sales. Some are organized and neat and some are overwhelming panic attacks waiting to happen. For the good ones, what make them good? Items are clearly marked, organized, and displayed well. This is a "store" after all. Some sales have strict guidelines for items, but not all do. That doesn't mean you can send things all willy nilly - this is about appealing to the buyer!

  • Avoid the temptation to bag clothes, even multi piece outfits. Hang them on hangers that fit the clothes so they look nice and are easy to go through. Button buttons, zip zippers, trim rouge threads, iron flaps and pockets flat. Look at it and think, "would I want to buy this?"
  • Use ribbon or string to sell books in sets (tape would ruin the covers). 
  • Leave batteries in electronic toys so people know they work. 
  • Package up small things like socks, hair accessories, burp cloths, etc. to be sold in sets. Some sales have a minimum price (the sale I'm doing is a minimum of $2) so you may need to bundle things to get to the minimum price. 
  • Sell things in outfits, even if they didn't come together. This can be appealing and help justify a minimum price. It can also keep you under a clothing item cap, if you sale has one. The sale I'm doing has a 100 clothing item cap, BUT one tag = one item, so selling four pairs of pants together = one item. 
  • It is understood that items are used, but make sure everything is clean and stain free.

Recalls and Damage
This goes without saying, but make sure you're only trying to sell good quality stuff. This isn't the place you get rid of your garbage. If things are ripped, stained, or missing pieces - throw them out. Be checking items (especially baby gear and car seats) for recalls as selling recalled things can be illegal in some states (and, c'mon, it's just not right). The Consumer Product Safety Commission is a great place to get this info.

Consider Season and Future Sales
Sales will have restrictions on what you're selling to keep it streamlined and interesting to buyers. Swim suits at the spring sale and snowsuits at the fall sale - that kind of thing. Keeping the sale schedule in mind, only sell holiday related items that could be used between that sale and the next. For this fall sale, I have a few Halloween and Christmas things, but am saving my Easter and 4th of July things until the spring sale.

If you're approaching an item cap, start putting things aside for the next sale. You don't need to sell everything at once - be strategic!

Dropping Off
For this sale, I had to schedule a drop off time to meet with volunteers and get my stuff registered. This can be a painfully long process if you're not prepared. Don't be "that person" holding up the line. Before you go, have items clearly tagged and organized by size and type of item. Rubber banding hangers together by size and gender is helpful for transportation.

Volunteering Benefits
Consignment sales run on volunteer power and working a shift or two can really do wonders for your experience. I've seen a few different benefits for volunteers from increased profit to getting to shop significantly earlier than regular shoppers. One sale I heard about, if you worked enough hours, you got 100% of your profits! Regardless of benefits, definitely consider giving a bit of your time to help the sale run smoothly. 

Clearance, Donation, and Pick Up
While you're working on your inventory and tagging, you'll have the option to include items in the 1/2 price day (usually the last day) and to indicate whether you'd like to donate the item after the sale or pick it up. Make sure you're paying attention to what you're marking down. For me, if it's something I think could sell at the next sale (multi-season clothes, accessories, toys, etc.) I'll pick it up and give it another try. If it's seasonal and I don't think I could sell it elsewhere, chances are I'll donate it instead of holding onto it for an entire year. 

So there you have it, a crash course in consignment prep. Like I said, rule #1 is to give yourself enough time. I sat down the other night and had to input like 200 items into the database so I could print tags and it was not fun. If I had given myself a few weeks, I could have done a few things a night and kept a little more sanity in my life.

Who am I kidding, that sanity would have been wasted anyway!

Have you consigned before? What are your favorite tips?

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