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Consignment Success: How I Make Thousands a Year on My Daughter’s Old Stuff

Every January and August I drag out the many bins of clothes, toys, shoes, DVDs and more that my daughter has outgrown, and begin sorting them to sell at a consignment sale. My husband always seems to walk through the living room, shake his head and ask, “Where did you get all this stuff?” When I respond that it all belonged to our daughter at one point, he just sighs and keeps walking. This coming from the man who owns approximately 10,000 baseball cards stored in our closet!

I make between $1500 to $2000 per year, tax-free, selling at consignment sales. These differ from consignment stores like “Once Upon a Child” in that you set the prices to sell your items. Buying at these sales is great, too, because you can get amazing clothes at rock bottom prices! Everything is new or close to new! In my mid-size southern town, there are at least 5 or 6 sales coming up in the next 8 weeks.  I’m selling at two of them, which makes me very excited! To search for upcoming sales in your area go to ConsignmentMommies.com.

Here are tips to buying and selling at consignment sales:

To Buy

  • Get there early: The big items like cribs, playhouses, baby swings, bikes, etc. will go fast. Find out what time the sale starts and plan on lining up ahead of time if you can. We usually get there at least a half hour before the sale starts to be safe.
  • Determine what you will spend on an item:  You need an overall budget, but also figure out what you can/will spend per piece or outfit. Otherwise, you will get blinded by the bargains and blow your budget.  I know this from experience! For example, I am willing to spend $18-20 on a Gymboree or boutique outfit in great condition, but I would not spend that on an outfit from Wal-Mart or Target.
  • Be focused: Have a plan on what you need/want as well as the sizes. Everything should be very organized at the sale and easy to find. Wandering around aimlessly means you will leave without what you need, and you might get trampled by the crazy ladies who are running towards that Pottery Barn crib on sale for $50.
  • Go with a friend: My mom and I make a day of shopping and have a blast!  We split the bill, which saves both of us even more money!
  • Half-price: Usually on the last day of the sale, the items marked “Discount: Yes” will be half price.  You can get some great bargains!

To Sell

  • Plan ahead and pace yourself: I work full-time and attend school part-time, so I start organizing and pricing items at least two months before the sale.  This gives me time to enter in all the items I want to maximize my profit. Trying to do everything the week before will cause unneeded stress and can take the fun out of selling!
  • Sort clothes and shoes by gender and size:  This makes it easier to enter into your tagging system and tag.
  • Set reasonable prices:  You should expect to sell your items for 1/3 to 1/2 of what you paid for them.  Don’t get greedy.  Trust us, we know what you paid for that outfit. If you think it’s worth more than what you paid for it, try an auction site like eBay.
  • When pricing items: Ask yourself the following question: do you want to sell this item or have it back in your house, where you will have to store it again and figure out what to do with it in another 6 months?
  • Donate: If you don’t want it back, consider donating it to an approved charity that’s affiliated with the sale. I purchase some of my items at yard sales, and if they don’t sell, I’m more than happy to donate them to charity.
  • Have your supplies ready: Wire hangers, safety pins, Ziploc baggies, packing tape (all can be found at the Dollar Store).
  • Focus on the overall picture/profit: I know sometimes it’s hard to sell a Gymboree outfit for $18, but if you sell 10 outfits at that price, then that’s $180 in your pocket!
  • Tips: On where to get supplies and for pricing guides, visit  ConsignmentMommies.com.

This has been a guest post by Suzy from Lexington, KY
Find out more about the KCL Contributor Network!

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28 thoughts on “Consignment Success: How I Make Thousands a Year on My Daughter’s Old Stuff”

  1. Anonymous says:

    When it comes to taxes, please contact an accountant! We can’t give you any advice and they are the experts and can tell you exactly what you need to know!

  2. Natalia hall says:

    im going to try this

  3. Thank goodness for shoppers who consign and re-sell their stuff!   I buy from garage sales, consignments and thrift stores and then often, re-consign  when my daughter has outgrown the clothing and toys.  So I don’t pay too much and make a little money back.  I do shop at thrift stores and if I find a designer or nice item, I may buy it to consign.  Many people who thrift store shop have money (they are frugal, that’s why they have money, they keep it!) or are buying for re-selling on ebay.  I also look for free clothing giveaways.  Sometimes local churches or organizations will hold these.  I always bring a bag of nice things to donate and maybe I can find a few things too.  Don’t forget rummage sales.  I used to overlook these, but now find it is a great place to pick up clothing as most rummage sale shoppers are buying knick- knacks and ignore the clothes and shoes. 
      For the poster who says she shops at thrift stores because she is poor, please don’t look at it that way.  Shop at thrift stores because you are looking for the best value for your money.  Is it worth spending extra money on brand new clothing that may be only worn a few times?  Be proud that you can dress your family for less!

  4. Thanks for this story.  I am currently looking to make some extra money and get rid of some clutter, now I know what I can do.

  5. Lorena says:

    What I love about my girlfriends we get together on  Saturday morning all 8 of us and it just wonderful because we all say  “Hey I can used that” and trade and whatever  we won’t used just give it to charity  it’s great because in these economy everything is just crazy expensive  but me I  will buy thing 1,2,3 sizes  bigger  for my kids and the same with shoes ,sandals etc. maybe your saying its a waste of time and money  but  no  I always try to have may kids ready for the next 3 years.I’m able to go to jcpenny and  buy a good pair of jeans for 2.00  from the clearance rack and shoes from sears paying  any were 3.00-6.00  depending   tennis shoes,dresses shoes boots from this past winter  yes from the clearance rack 
    i’m not into fashion  so everything works!!!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    If only my husband would make up his mind as to whether we’re going to have another!!!  I have BAGS of stuff in the attic but since we’re still up in the air on a second child, I hesitate to get rid of any of it.  Hopefully he’ll make up his mind in the next 6 months!  (and I hope the answer is yes!)

  7. Anonymous says:

    I used to give all of my baby girl things away  but recently I took some things to a local consignment shop I had gotten some things on a great sale at old Navy (6)for @ $2 a set, a few ralph lauren polo shirt that I got for $5 each at the outlet , 6 pairs of sandals from target& old navy… None of my things were hurt at all & I purchased  everything on clearance Im happy to say I made $85 , I can take that cash & buy some more things for winter since I shop out of season.
     I will still donate some of my childs items to a local shelter or some one who needs them  but  the majority will go to consignment!

  8. Ashley Fisk says:

    How much are you paying for these clothes to make so much money back, honestly? Why don’t you just cut your spending and buy less expensive clothes/less clothes? Also to the person who goes and buys things at the thrift store just to take them and sell them, that is really messed up. I go to the thrift store looking for outfits for my kids because I’m poor. If I wasn’t poor, I wouldn’t have to shop at the thrift store for clothes. So that outfit you are making money off hurts all of us who can’t afford it. 

    • I buy almost all of my daughter’s clothes at garage sales and consignment sales. I know SO many people who would never set foot in a Goodwill or garage sale because they too proud. I wouldn’t  consider myself “poor” but thrifty. My kids look great in everything I buy for fifty cents to around two or three bucks. :)

    • Blackpearl1993 says:

      Many, many people who are simply frugal also shop at thrift stores. Thrift store finds are for whomever find them first! There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying an item that is in good shape and selling it at a consignment sale or garage sale. This is a great way to make a little extra money and offset the cost of buying clothing for your children. Last year, I made $1100 at consignment sales and I only spent $600 to clothe both of my children. I call that smart money management. 

      When you say that buying items at a thrift store to resell hurts those who are poor, it is like saying that extreme couponing hurts the store, manufacturer, or other shoppers. One thing has nothing to do with the other. 

    • I agree, I have a limit of $1.00 max for clothing items for my son. I shop Garage sales and buy several sizes in advance. He doesn’t look like a poor kid and we’re not poor cuz we are frugal. No offense to those who like to shop but I can’t bring myself to pay $10 or more for an item that he’s only going to wear for a few months. I could count on both hands how many times I purchased something new for my son in his 4 short years! 

      I will usually try to resell the items for $0.25 at my own garage sale and whatever doesn’t sell goes to charity or a person in need. I found a girl on Craigslist who was pregnant and needing boy stuff. I’ve met up with her 4 or 5 times to give her stuff. She then passed them to a friend in need. Pay it forward, reuse and reduce excess!

  9. Sarah T says:

    Consignment sales are great, but I wonder if those with daughters make more than those with sons.  I have two sons and consigned for the first time six months ago.  A friend told me she made $300 on a previous sale, and based on how much I was bringing, I thought I would make about the same.  I ended up with just over $120.  :(  I had some Gymboree outfits in excellent condition that I priced for $12 (and even marked to go half price during the last hours of the sale), and they didn’t sell.  Based on this, I can’t imagine successfully selling a used outfit for $18-20.  (I’m in western WA, which I think has a higher cost of living than KY, too.)

    Maybe girls’ clothing sells for more?  She doesn’t say how old her daughter is, either.  Maybe older kids’ clothes sell for more, too.  (I had mostly baby sizes.)  Like I said, consignment is great, I would just caution not to get your hopes up too much as to making lots of money.  In order to make $1500 to $2000 a year, you would have to sell (and hang, price, tag, etc.) a HUGE amount of stuff!

  10. I have tried to sell at Once Upon a Child and every time it is a HUGE waste of my time. I only take in the items that are good quality (no stains, rips, etc). I have gone in with several big bins of clothes, for them to only take 2 items and pay me $3.50. NOT worth it IMHO.

    • Candra Long says:

      That’s how consignment stores are here, too. I took in a pair of $100 boots once that had been worn probably 10 times or so, and were in perfect condition. I got, I kid you not, around $5. I was livid.

      • Anonymous says:

        Please note that there is a difference between a consignment STORE and a SALE.  Sales are in short-term rental facilities usually in the spring and fall and last a few days, the facilities are usually larger than a store; stores are open daily throughout the year and are often limited by size due to daily operating expenses and therefore may not be able to take as many items per consignor.  Our local sale, The Clothing Tree in PA has 3 locations during the spring and 3 in the fall.  YOU set your prices and whether or not you want to discount at the end of the sale and they will accept all items that meet the stain-free guidelines.  Also, see if your local sale requires things like wire hangers (an extra cost to you) or if they have limits on quantity of items.  Consignors who price correctly will sell a minimum of 50-60% of their inventory, per national average (in my area it is more like 70%).  Sales in our area recommend pricing 25-35% of the price paid new…not 50% like mentioned in the article.  50% would be only for high-end or large items only.  Consignment SALES are awesome once you find your pricing niche. :) 

  11. Beth Jones says:

    You most certainly DO have to pay taxes on consignment items. Failure to do so is ILLEGAL.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually…. you only have to pay taxes on the capital gain from those sales. Which in almost every circumstance is going to be zero. Capital gain is the difference between your purchase price and your sale price. So, if you buy a Gymboree outfit for $60 and sell it for $18, then there are no taxes to pay.

      If my consignment sale sent me a 1099 I’d never consign there again.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m not an accountant, but I dont believe the money is taxable UNLESS she is making MORE than what she paid for the items.  She already paid tax once when she received the income (from employers) that she used to purchase the clothing for personal  use.  She would be double taxed if she was to pay taxes again on that same income.  If however she is making more on the clothes than she paid, perhaps if she picked up good deals at a garage sale and resold them — then yes that income (above the cost & expense) would be taxable.

      I dont believe however the KCL should allow posts that allow the writer to make legal claims, such as stating “tax free” — or at least put a disclaimer that all readers should seek legal/tax advice as all financial situations are different.

  12. I just used the link to check for consignment sales within ten miles of me (I live in a mid-sized city in north central Indiana) but was sad to see none listed.  I don’t think they have them around here.  But there are TONS of subdivision garage sales that normally begin right about now and run every weekend through the beginning of June so I can’t complain.  Over the years I’ve held garage sales almost every summer since my daugther was two (she’ll be 17 next week) and these have been pretty successful for selling the average items.  I’ve also taken many items to local consignment shops and have also given items away to friends, family, and donated to Goodwill. 

  13. Carrie Germain says:

    Do any of you thrift to resell at consignment sales.  I have been going to goodwills and have found some great items for .99 – that my kids don’t fit in or are the wrong gender.  Things like gap, aeropostale, justice, gymboree, janie & jack, and all sorts of christmas dresses.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Yes you do have to pay taxes on everything you make over a certain amount.

  15. Kimberly Robertson says:

    Thank you for posting info for the pricing guides.  I am in the middle of pricing my items (typically as a set – to sell quickly), but this really helps me!  I have some brands I don’t remember purchasing, let alone what the price was, so this is FANTASTIC! 

  16. Megin Fitch says:

    In Ct there are a few, the largest is The Connecticut Kids Closet. They have events in Danbury next weekend and in Ansonia in late April. =) Still time to shop for Danbury AND consign and shop for Ansonia! 

  17. This is a great idea for people who want to sell stuff back! I always just gave everything to friends who didnt have a lot of money for their kids, but i can see how this would be great!

  18. KLeeD says:

    Be careful….your earnings are not always tax free.  I did two sales (with the same organizer) last year and recieved a 1099MISC form for the $600 I made.  I now have to pay taxes on that money.

    • Jennie Schoenfield says:

      I just opened a consignment store, I contacted the government on that very issue. It states that on consignment that you are not required to 1099 your consignors unless they make $5,000 or more a year. The nice thing though for you is that now you are an independent contractor and you can claim the loss on the items that you sold.

  19. I love this post. I consign twice a year with 3 different sales using my 3 kids clothing. Great money maker.

  20. Thanks for the mention!!!