10 Tips for Shopping a Children’s Consignment Sale

The following is a Guest Post from reader Laurie Owens

This is the season for children’s consignment sales. Seasonal consignment sales offer a unique venue for families to sell items their children no longer use and others a chance to purchase the same items at a fraction of regular retail prices. Sales set up shop for a weekend or a few days in the spring and fall. Some sales also offer a holiday sale around December that specializes in toys and holiday clothes. Here are some tips for successfully shopping one of these events. Mark your calendars for the Kidzsignments Fall/Holiday events (Oct 6-8 at the NJ EXPO Center in Edison, NJ & November 17-19 at 76 Reaville Avenue (next to McDonalds) in Flemington). Check out our website at www.NJKidSale.com for more information and complete sale schedule.

::Finding a Sale

Pick a sale that best fits you. Consider how far you’re willing to travel, sale hours, how popular the sale (the more popular usually means the more crowded), what they sell (not all sell car seats or maternity clothing), what payments they will accept etc. A large sale is usually worth the drive, but don’t rule out smaller less popular sales that may not have a large quantity, but will likely still have quality items for sale. Google your area using keywords ‘children’s consignment sale’ to find one in your area.  If you find a sale you enjoy, join their email list to stay informed.

::Make a List

Like grocery shopping, it’s never a good idea to walk into a consignment sale without a list – your plan. Take a few minutes prior to the sale to write out what you’re looking to buy. This goes for clothing, sports equipment, books etc. Don’t forget to specify sizes too.

::Set a Budget

Walking into a consignment sale for the first time can be overwhelming. There are thousands of GREAT things to buy and the prices are always great. If you don’t set a limit, you will likely over spend. Consider shopping with cash to avoid the urge to buy more with a credit card. Please note that not all sales will accept credit cards for payment.

::Leave the Kids at Home

Some sales restrict if or when children may attend. It’s never a great idea to bring your children even if a sale allows. It’s usually stressful to shop anywhere with a child but a consignment sale can be even tougher because of the crowds and lines.  It’ll be more fun for everyone if you can leave the little ones at home.

::Shop Early

Most sales allow sellers and volunteers to shop before the public. This can be the difference it makes to ensure you get the ‘best’ deal, and not just the ‘good’ deals. You don’t have be a consignor to shop early. Check sale websites for opportunities to volunteer a few hours to earn a preview shopping pass. Some sales offer First-time moms an opportunity to register for an early shopping pass (rules will vary per sale). Visit the sale website for specifics on early shopping opportunities. If you plan on shopping the first public day, be sure to arrive early, up to an hour, to get in line.

::Grab Your Tools

Having the right tools will make your shopping much easier. Use string to measure your child’s waist and length to use when shopping for pants/skirts. You can use cardboard to trace an outline of their feet to help with shoe or snow boot sizes. You can also keep a list of clothing and shoe sizes when shopping. If the sale allows, bring a wagon, basket or rubber bin to hold you items while you shop. It is also a good idea to come in a vehicle large enough to hold your purchases (especially if you are shopping for train tables, infant gear or furniture).

::Shop Strategically

When you first arrive make a beeline for the items you want most. Ask about ‘HOLD’ areas or marking items ‘SOLD’ to avoid carrying (or dragging) heavy loads. When shopping for clothing hold an item if it is a “maybe”, instead of returning only to find it gone. Don’t forget that the last day of a sale is usually a discount day. And don’t make the assumption that nothing good would remain on the final day of a sale. Many overpriced items can be snatched up on half price day when the price is right.

::Think Outside the Box

Most people think of consignment sales as a less expensive way to buy clothing, toys and baby gear for their family. But consider buying birthday, holiday and other gifts at a consignment sale. Many consignors are selling brand new items – similar to what you may find at WalMart or Target. Some larger sales offer brand new products lines like Melissa & Doug for sale at a discount.  You may also find vendors at some sales selling homemade items or hard to find items.

::Know Your Prices/Brands

Consignors are usually responsible for setting their own prices. Don’t assume every price is a ‘good price’. Know the higher end brands (i.e. Baby Gap, Gymboree, Janie & Jack) which will be priced higher AND the lower end (i.e Jumping Beans, Circo, Kid Connection, Faded Glory) which should be priced lower. Take advantage of your SmartPhone to check Ebay or retail store websites (i.e. Target.com) to compare pricing.  Remember, consignment stores will not negotiate pricing or take items back if you find them cheaper somewhere else.

::Inspect Your Items

Be sure to double check your finds before paying for them.  Check the sizes on the garment label. Be careful when buying clothing sets to ensure all pieces are the same size. Most sales inspect items during drop off, but it’s always a good idea to look for stains, holes or make sure toys work and have all the pieces. Double check your movies to make sure the correct DVD is inside and check books for tears and writing. Remember, most sales don’t accept returns.

 Laurie Owens lives in Flemington, NJ and is the mother of 3 children and owner of Kidzsignments Childrens Consignment Sale. She organizes semi-annual events in Edison (Oct 6-8) and Flemington (Nov 17-19). If you’d like to learn more about her consignment sale, visit her website at www.NJKidSale.com.

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  • Dawn

    This week this sale is running at Brookdale community College.. Its a good one.. I went yesterday and scored some great deals!


  • Meli

    except for undergarmnets i only shop at consignment shops for my daughter.

  • Laina

    Great tips! There is a consignment sale in Pennington, NJ – October 13-15

  • Stefanie

    New2youkids.com sale running this week & weekend at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, NJ- it’s amazing!!

  • i just made $180 selling at the local sale this past weekend! Make sure you check and see what it will be for cosigning at the sale.

  • Alicia

    there is one here locally in NY (fishkill) called the be green kids sale that i scored a walker for $15!! 🙂 like an ultimate tag sale.

    • jessica

      alicia when is that sale im in hyde park and id love to go or even try and sell do you have information on it!??! or any others

  • Danielle

    Kids2Teens is having 3 sales this fall, Oct 1 at 381 Zion Rd in EHT, NJ, Oct 8 at Pennsville Middle School in Pennsville, NJ and Oct 22 at Kingsway HS in Woolwich TWP, NJ. Lots of sales to choose from! Loves Consignment Sales!!

    • kristen

      i was just going to post about the kids2teens sales … awesome to hear someone else is …. they already have 97 consigners at the pennsville one on the 8th so it is going to be HUGE!!!!!

  • Great tips Lauri! Consignment is such a great way to save & make money!!!

    And… it’s getting REALLY popular. There are tons of sales popping up ALL over the country… we’ve got over 1600 listed at ConsignmentMommies.com now!!

  • Rose clark

    I shop for my grandchildrens clothes every Wednesday at the salvation army. This day is half and excellent prices for children’s books. I bought seven items for six dollars and fifteen cents. Two ballet skirts, one fleece shirt, one sweatpant, one leggin.two shirts. Brand names, baby gap,children’s place, and
    Jumpin beans. The place was packed and people were buying winter coats,boots and bags. Check what day is half price and get a bigger bang for your buck. Also is a great place to get your Halloween costume.

    • Where do you find these stores? Are they in New Jersey?

  • Great article! I love that consignment is becoming more mainstream. We all need to save where we can, especially if we have families. I found this article and just wanted to share that I work at a company called thredup.com. It’s an online market place where parents can swap their kids clothes, books and toys. It’s done by the box and breaks down to about $1 per item. Hard to beat. If anyone wants to check it out visit http://www.thredup.com/info 🙂