Have you shopped at a kids’ consignment sale yet? Are you curious what to expect – and what to know so that you can make the most out of your experience? No worries! This post is here to help guide you along the way.
First: what IS a consignment sale? Well, it’s like a consignment store in the sense that it’s gently-used clothing and items that are being sold on commission. The store or sale gets a portion of the price of each item sold, and the person who brought in the items gets the majority of the sale price.
Some of the differences? Consignment sales operate on a pop-up basis (usually twice a year) and let the consignors set the asking prices of items. It can be an intense but incredibly rewarding experience, as both a consignor and as a shopper!
Shopping a major consignment sale is not the same as heading to a department store, even if it’s laid out the same way. We’ve put together some of our best tips on shopping consignment sales, as well as drawn on the wisdom of sale owners! (Did you know Pickle Planet Moncton’s founder, Jenna Morton, is also co-founder of Grapevine Events and a long-time volunteer with the Moncton Multiples Consignment Sale?)
Getting in the Door
Coffee Date: There’s no way to avoid it; there’s a long line up waiting for the doors to open for a good sale. Embrace it. Treat yourself to a fancy latte or drive-thru breakfast sandwich, bring a book, and enjoy the morning. (If you’re not the line type, then wait to arrive about 20 – 30 minutes after the doors open. Chances are you’ll breeze right in and the selection for clothes and many items will still be great. Being first in line is moreso important if you’re looking for something in particular, especially big items like strollers. Speaking of those big items – remember to prepare your ride, too! Empty out the trunk before heading to the sale – you never know just what treasures you’ll find!)
Shop FOR your kids, not WITH them: It’s not always an option, but if you can make this a trip about you, it’ll be a smoother experience. There will be a lot of distractions for little ones, as well as competition for top items, making your race to grab the last $5 booster seat much less likely to succeed – and potentially even dangerous.
Cash is King: Every sale is different, but there’s almost always an advantage to paying in cash – and for some sales, it might be the only option, especially for admission or with vendors. Be sure to check and plan ahead. Think about whether you’re on the lookout for bigger items – strollers, playpens, baby food processors, etc. – and how much you’d spend if you found them all. (And it’s always awesome if you can stash your cash and your cards on your person, or at least in a cross-body bag – you don’t want to be juggling a purse along with all your amazing finds!)
Carry the Load: Consignment sales are not department stores – there are no shopping carts. Some sales may have rules about what you can bring, but if not – think reusable grocery bags (the bigger, the better), laundry baskets, rolling luggage, gym bags, or even an empty stroller!
Make a List: Consignment sales are generally organized by the season; make a list of everything your family needs between now and the next sale. Refer to it often to help keep you focused. (Psst! Don’t have time to do a full sweep before leaving home? Snap photos of the kids’ closets. It’ll at least help you out a bit – and don’t forget to grab photos of their shoes & jackets, too!)
Divide and Conquer: The Buddy System is always a smart move, whether you’re swimming, drinking, or consignment shopping.
The best plan is to bring someone who doesn’t need to shop for themselves, but is solely there to help you out. You need clothes for a 12 month old? You start at one of the 6-12M section, they start at the far end of the 12-24M section and when you meet, you compare. You can also send one person to toys, shoes, and large items while the other sticks with clothes. It’s also a bonus to have more hands to carry the loot!
BONUS TIP: Play Both Sides: Clothing doesn’t always stay true to the size on the label. Look through the size above and below what you think you need; you might just find a few hidden gems!
Speaking of Size: We all know that sizes can vary from brand to brand. So how do you know that 3T is really the 3T you’re looking for?
Measure your kid. Ideally, you want to know chest, waist, hips, inseam, and torso … but arm length and leg length can get you pretty far, especially if you’re buying to leave a little room for that summer growth spurt that’s hiding around the corner.
Grab a skein of yarn (a different colour of yarn for each kid, if you’re buying for more than one). Cut a length that represents the child’s inseam, another for their arm length. Bring these shopping with you to quickly measure anything you’re not sure about.
You might also want to search out the sizing charts for your favourite brands and check what size your child falls under. Here’s one quick reference chart that compares sizing across brands, taken from Simply Baby’s blog.
Feet First: Trace your child’s feet on a piece of paper; one will be larger than the other. Always buy shoes according to which foot is bigger.
Bring the paper with you if you’re not sure – or buy a nifty gadget like the Squatchi, which is a foot growth chart/shoe-sizer combo that you could even use for more than one kid.
For tips on shoe shopping in general, check out this guide from the American Podiatric Medical Association.
Second Take: A large consignment sale can be overwhelming, even for the seasoned bargain shopper.
Once you’ve made your initial discoveries and are thinking about heading to the line, consider doing a second loop around – especially the clothes and toys. These areas have the most items; as the sale goes on and things are scooped up, new treasures often emerge.
Upcoming Sales in New Brunswick:
Grapevine Events’ Saint John Fall Children’s Clothing & Equipment Sale takes place Saturday, April 18, 2020 at the Saint John Exhibition.
The Moncton Multiples Consignment Sale takes place Saturday, April 25, 2020 at the Moncton Coliseum.
The Fredericton Area Moms of Multiples (FAMOM) Sale is Saturday, April at the Capitol Winter Club.
Grapevine Events’ Fall Women’s Clothing Sale takes place Friday, May 8 & Saturday, May 9, at the Coverdale Centre in Riverview.