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
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