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How Our Family Saves (& Earns!) Through Consignment

saving through consignment

Guest post by Anita of Traveling Along

Wouldn’t it be great if kids only grew at Christmas, or on their birthdays — you know, those times when Grandparents happily purchase gifts? Thankfully, one of my mother-in-law’s love languages is “gifts” — specifically expressed via yard sale shopping!

Often what she picks is perfect, but sometimes it is too big or too small, not for the right season, or just not right for that child. However, I have a system in place for the clothing that doesn’t work, and we still benefit from her purchases!

I have learned to consign anything superfluous that is in decent shape, no matter its origin. There are different shops and they have varying payment methods.

This is what I do…

A: Charity Thrift Shop

The charity thrift shop by us will take up to 20 items a week, split the profit 50/50, and send a check when my total is over $10. I have received several checks — usually about every other month.

The store by us also takes household items and adult clothing — and since I get a check that turns into cash, I am able to purchase anything we need anywhere I want!

B: Children’s Consignment Chain

Our local children’s consignment chain will only take children’s items — toys, shoes, clothing etc. They will often pay cash on the spot or store credit. If you opt for store credit you get 15% more than in cash.

Currently I have about $4 in store credit, which isn’t a lot, but at their prices I could easily buy a pair of shoes and probably a pair of pants for a child who suddenly complains of sore toes or worn out knees.

In addition to consigning the kids clothes, I do whole closet clean outs for my husband and myself, stuffing bags full and delivering them for consignment. This will turn into cash in my pocket as well as clean out my own closet space, which has a therapeutic effect and clears the head. BONUS!

A few more tips for consignment:

1. Keep nice clothes nice. Dirty, stained, or damaged clothing will not sell and will be donated or tossed. Be sure to fold them neatly — presentation matters!

2. Clean out the closet regularly. If it is a good item but just doesn’t get worn, bag it and sell it!

3. Don’t just clean out clothes. Take in those dishes you haven’t used in years, clean out your purses, scarves, jewelry and other accessories.

4. Pick a day a month (ex. first Tuesday of the month) and fill a box!

5. Call your local consignment shops before going in and ask about their policies. You don’t want to waste your time or theirs.

I am not even half as intense as I could be with this, but in even the past few months we have added over $40 to our buying power through consignment. This will go a long way, especially buying back at thrift store prices!

I hope these tips can get you started!

What are YOUR best consignment tips?

Anita lives in Virginia with her husband and kids on a hopeful micro farm in the city. When she is not fine-tuning the budget, she can be found canning, cooking with spare parts, helping with math, praying the garden will grow, attending to a sick chicken, or covered in clay at the potters wheel. She blogs at Traveling Along.

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28 Comments

  • Jessica says:

    I’ve never had good luck with Once Upon a Child in my city. When my oldest child was a year old, I went through her items and there were many still NWT that we’d been given that were wrong size, wrong season or just not our style. I had two full bins of new or very gently used items plus some equipment and toys. They accepted maybe three or four items, returned the rest to me in a big mess and just scribbled on the “reject” form such that I couldn’t determine whether they were overstocked or what the deal was. I tried once or twice after that with similar results. In the end it wasn’t worth the wasted time and gas to take it there only to have to deal with all the “rejects” again anyway. Now I just donate to non-profits and we get the tax write-off.

    • Unfortunately, this has been our experience as well. Even NWT! And I don’t find that they don’t pay really well either. I haven’t tried any where other than OUAC though. I might have to search around. Thanks for the reminder, Anita!

    • AnitaJoye says:

      Yes, I have had similar issues with them and I might go there first, then take the rest to the womens club thrift store which is where I get the checks.

  • amber says:

    I have two girls, two years apart. So I keep the oldest clothing for the younger one. Then once the younger one outgrows the clothes I sell them to Once Upon a Child. I have also sold bags of clothes on craigslist.

    For my books I sell them to Half Priced Books. I usually let the girls each pick out a few clearance books while we are there and still walk away with around $20.

    • Leah says:

      Wow, how do you make that much from Half-Price Books? I tried once, and was only offered $2.50 for 14 books. (A few non-fiction, and the others fiction. They were fairly popular books, too! I had actually bought almost half of them from Half-Price, and decided I didn’t like them.)

      • amber says:

        The first time I tried Half Priced Books they offered very little (maybe 8 years ago). Then a few years later someone told me how much they were offered for not very many books. About two years ago I tried again with about 30 books. I thought if I was lucky I would get $10. They offered me $20. These were books my children had outgrown and some of my fiction books. What is funny I bought these books at the goodwill for 50 cents each or at yard sales for less.

  • Anna says:

    I haven’t been thrilled with my consignment success. Last time I took in 3 huge boxes of stuff, and got $12 in store credit for the 1/3 of it they bought. Oh well. I was able to find another mom who needed clothes in the sizes/genders I had. Less clutter for me to store, and it feels good knowing someone will put those things to use.

    • Anitajoye says:

      I would suggest that you find a new consignment shop! The chain shops many of us find difficult, but I still take them there when I think it is a prime childrens item.

  • I’m so glad you shared this post! I just made a post about buying and selling at a local consignment store! http://purposelyfrugal.com/2014/02/10/consignment-stores-buy-sell/#.UvvRxd_YWmg
    This is my first time selling at a consignment store, so I’m a neebie, but we have almost $35 waiting for us to come pick up! 🙂
    Thanks for the tips!

  • Shelley says:

    I seem to have much better luck at the twice a year consignment sales for kids clothing. The clothes have to be in perfect condition and it takes a bit of time to hang and tag, but I have found that I often make enough to pay for next season’s clothes!

  • Heidi says:

    I have not done well with selling at our local shops. They are extremely picky (clothes can’t be more than 2 yrs old, must be name brands, etc). I guess if I were someone who bought new at the mall every season, I could sell there. They have a sign-up fee and would give me 60%. Just not worth it.

  • Jen says:

    We have Totswap. It happens 3x year. If you volunteer at the consignment sale you earn 70% of the value of the items you consign. They take toys, books, clothes, maternity and strollers/baby equipment. I’ve earned between $130-300 a season! And I’m not a huge consigner.

  • corrie says:

    I sell and buy for both my kids at the seasonal consignment sales in our area. I’ve bought full winter wardrobes (including coats and snow clothes), pj’s and a few toys for both for less than $150. http://consignmentmommies.com/

  • sarah says:

    I use a small, non chain consignment shop. Not sure on the % of sales, but I bring a paper bag worth in and end up with an average of $20-30 for it. I never cash out though it seems… I’m grabbing more. But it’s nice to do since I generally just give my clothes away to charity.

  • There are plenty of consignment shops out there. Find the one that will work with you and for heavens sake… don’t give up! Some are more flexible than others but our job as homemakers is to save in every way possible. Thank you for this great article and please…. keep them coming!!

    • Melissa says:

      It’s also worthwhile to just pass items along to someone else who needs them. I give my son’s outgrown clothes to my sister in law, also a SAHM, and I am very appreciative when a friend passes her son’s on used items to us.

  • Jerusha says:

    Great article! Look forward to reading more of your posts! 🙂

  • Cherilyn says:

    I consign locally every week. On average I will pick up $10-20 per week in cash or trade in for more clothes. I have started upping my game a little. When I yardsale or thrift shop and find a super deal like fill a bag for $3-5 I will fill it up as tight as I can with quality kids clothes and take them right to the consignment shop that week. I will also look for free items like little tykes basketball hoop or similar items and clean them up and take them in for consignment.

  • Megan says:

    I have not tried the local shops as their percentage was much lower than the twice yearly sales. I just entered 25 small items (mostly clothes, a few books and toys) in the largest sale that were my 65% less the $8 fee and had 6 items that did not sell (so 19 items=$27.00). I like the twice yearly sales—I load my outgrown clothes/toys into bins in my attic and spend a few hours tagging them right before the sale and make a few bucks to add to my date night fund and then pick up the remainders a week later.

    • Anitajoye says:

      Great job! I haven’t done one of these sales yet, but I know a lot of women who do. The long lines of sometimes pushy, deal panicked parents keeps me away! LOL.

  • Deidre says:

    I’ve had luck in the past at Platos Closet. They do only buy name brand items, but I sell items I bought for myself at the thrift store so it’s never been a big investment for me. I’ve had zero luck selling clothes or shoes on Craigslist. Just depends on your area!

  • Michele says:

    My local mother’s group does a swap twice a year for clothes, shoes, books, toys and all things infant. Although I am not making money, I find all our clothing needs for the season are met at the swap. I also gain great books and toys and even a few diapers. If there is not a mother’s swap already in your area, start one. The elks club lets us use their hall. Volunteers get first swap.

  • Anna says:

    Here in the DFW area we have so many great consignment options. That’s great for me because I have fluctuated between a size 4 and a 16 over the past 10 years. I have had the best luck consigning (and shopping for myself) at Cotton Closet in Allen, TX. You do have to pick up your checks in person. I find Loft, Banana Republic, Black House White Market here and pay only $4-$7 per item. You have to “dig” sometimes. The best stuff is in for only a few days around the 5th of each month because that’s when you can pick up your check.

    At first, I ONLY consigned the nicest, newest looking stuff I owned. I built up a reputation as a good consigner with the owner 🙂 Now I can just drop off my bag by the front desk every month and trust that everything will get put out on the sales floor.

    As mentioned previously, presentation is key. This is a cause worth raiding my “fancy bags” stash for. If I have an Anthropologie or Coach bag (yes, the free paper bag you get at check out) this is what I use as a receptacle for turning in my consignment pile. Wouldn’t you, as a sales clerk, be more curious about the contents of a Hollister bag than someone’s dusty cardboard box? The sooner your stash gets opened, the sooner it becomes merch on the sales floor, the more eyes that see it, the faster it sells.

    If I have plastic store hangers in the house, I pre-hang everything for the owner before I turn it in.

    For smaller items, such as a nursing bra or bracelet, I repackage them using a fresh plastic jewelry bag (I buy a stack from Hobby Lobby) or those bags that sheets come in. I also might print out what an item is and stick it in the bag- “like new baby monitor with batteries” just to make it easier on everyone who looks at it. The easier it is for shoppers to see what you’re selling, the less it will be handled and unpackaged (and so stay fresh looking) until it’s sold.

    I have opted to donate everything I bring to the store that doesn’t sell over the course of three months: if that many people have seen my shirt or pants or purse and don’t want it, then I probably shouldn’t be wearing it. It’s easier for the employees when consigners choose this option- don’t be a stingy consigner!

  • Mellia says:

    Agreed Bobbie Pearson! I do the same as Cherilyn. I am out at yardsales (work) almost every Saturday when the weather warms up. Aside from the fact that I LOVE shopping at yardsales for my family’s needs and desires, I usually get paid to shop. By selling high quality items on ebay,consignment sales and shops, I avoid retail 95% of the time! My children have new to like new clothing and toys throughout the year. My husband’s and my wardrobe isn’t too shabby either:) I aslo volunteer at consignment sales in order to shop early. I could go on about the ways that I save and make $. I seriously need a blog!

  • Jeannie Kanaby says:

    I have made over $200 in six months in selling online garage sale site on Facebook. It is local and better than having a garage sale. Have bought some things as well for great prices.

  • Margaret says:

    I also sell my children’s clothes at a twice a year sale and do well with this. I save the more expensive clothes and sell them on eBay and make more this way. If they don’t sell on ebay I send them into thred Up or kindermint. This option is so easy. You just order a bag from them and mail it back( it has a pre paid thing already on it). I have found that thred up is very slow processing your bag once they get it. Kindermint took a few days to process my bag. Both pay decent considering it is so easy to just fill the bag and drop it off at the ups store.

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