How to Shop Kid’s Consignment Sales

It’s that time of year when the twice per year consignment sales are selling seasonal clothes.  Are you going? The first few times I went I was overwhelmed by both the quantity and the crowds.  That’s a lot of shopping to do all at once if you are trying to get everything your child needs for the next season.  But the prices for gently used clothing are fantastic and I like the idea of helping out other mom’s that are consigning.  Thus I’ve tried to find a system that works for me.  And I think I found it.  This is one I’ve used for several sales now and I can get in and out in about 3hrs, for all three kids.  It’s actually kind of fun now.  If you’ve never ventured into a consignment sale for fear of being overwhelmed (but love the idea of them) here are a few tips I’ve picked up that have made it more enjoyable for me:

Pick a picky sale in a upscale part of town.  You want a sale who sticks to their “gently used, like new” policy. Otherwise it’s a waste of time because you are sorting through damaged clothes or purchasing things that won’t last long.  Also consigners tend to pick sales close to them to sell at. I’ve noticed that if the sale is in a upscale part of town you will find a lot more high-quality items and brands that wear well.  My sale of choice for these two reasons is the  Kid’s Everywear Sale.

Volunteer and shop on the volunteer days, avoid public days.  If kids sales overwhelm you this is the best cure.  The isles are not packed with shoppers and you have a significantly better chance of finding what you need quickly since there are more of the same items. You would spend about the same amount of time fighting crowds and waiting in line on public days as you would volunteering or tagging to consign.  Sometimes there are other opportunities for volunteering other than just helping at the sale.

Start with the items that are expensive new and hard to find at other second hand stores:  Everyday clothes at reasonable prices  are so easy to find for kids.  I make a list per child of the specialty things I need and purchase those first.  I pay for the items on this list and take them out to my car before any other shopping (example of my list)

Afterwards, if I have the time and motivation, I will go back and shop for everyday clothes or browse the books and toys again.  Otherwise I’ll pick up these clothes gradually at some of my favorite second hand stores.  Usually by then I’m running out of time and motivation and it is enough where we can pick up anything else I’m missing as we need it.

Browse the clothes quickly, decide later.  If I’m looking for three nice dresses and a coat I will go through the clothes quickly pulling out 4-5 dresses and 1-2 coats I like.  Then I will find a quiet corner to measure if I need to measure and look the garment over.  I open and close all fasteners (buttons/zippers/snaps), check for holes and stains, and check the arm hole seams.  Then I put back the ones I don’t need and move on to the next item on my list.  It’s tempting sometimes to look through everything but if I find something I like in the 1st quarter of a section I make myself stop and move on.  Otherwise I could spend an hour looking for one thing!

Shop without the children.   There are dozens of brands at kids sales and since the sizes tend to vary by brand it’s hard to know which ones run small and which ones run true to size.  It’s tempting to take the kids for sizing but I’ve discovered that using a sewing measuring tape is all I need.  Before I go I measure:

    1. For shoes: the length of my child’s foot from heal to longest toe.  Or you can make a cardboard cutout of their foot.  Stick this inside of a shoe to determine how much “grow” room they will have.
    2. For bottoms: Measure the width of the waist band in their currant size.  If a brand runs small the next size up will have the same width as their currant size. For pants, stretch pants measure differently than regular shorts.  FYI.
    3. If you like shorts to be a certain length, measure from waist down to where you want it to get a good idea of where it will fall.
    4. For Dresses:  Measure from shoulder to knee, down their back (curve of stomach will throw off the measurement because when you lay clothes flat to measure at the sale it doesn’t account for body curves).  This will give you an idea of how long (or short) a dress will be on them.  And make sure they have growing room. You can do the same with shirts or onsies if your child has a long torso.
    5. You can also measure sleeve lengths and pant lengths but I don’t bother.  They tend to be more true to size for my girls and easily rolled up if too long.

Do you have any other tips?


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