wonderfully made: bang for your buck | a beginner's guide to consignment sales

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

bang for your buck | a beginner's guide to consignment sales

If you know me, you know I'm a bargain hunter. I've talked about it here too many times to count and it should be pretty clear that I'm always looking for a deal based on the amount of times I've talked about our budgeting and how we handle our money. 

Becoming a mom has opened the door to a whole new kind of bargain hunting. Enter: consignment sales. I've been familiar with women's resale and consignment through Plato's Closet and Clothes Mentor, etc., but when my sister introduced me to Just Between Friends at 15 weeks pregnant, I didn't know what to expect. What I found there was racks and racks of clothing, stacks of toys and books, and rows of jumpers, exersaucers, walkers, bouncers, strollers, and car seats. It was a little overwhelming. I remember being exhausted the day after that sale, but I was immediately hooked. Since then, I've hit up multiple area consignment sales and now that they are back for Spring, I'm back at it again. 


Today I want to share a bit about how consignment sales work, how to shop them, and ways you can benefit from them. 

There are multiple sales across the country, the most common being Just Between Friends, commonly known as JBF. Other sales are held in different areas. This website is helpful to find sales all across the US. Just go to the website and put in your zip code to find out when and where sales are being held!

Here are a couple of the sales I've heard of and/or shopped before:
Divine Consign (my favorite)

Here's how it works: JBF (or other sale company) rents out a warehouse, convention center, or large room and supplies racks, tables, and all of the logistics for the sale. Consignors (people like you and me) register online and price, print, and tag their kids' used (or new) clothing, toys, strollers, etc. at whatever price they want. They drop off the items at the sale location and the sale staff and volunteers organize and work the event. Everything is neatly organized by item type and size. Each sale works a little bit differently, but basically it is divided into time slots. If you volunteer to work the sale or if you consign with the event, you get a ticket to come to one of the many 'pre-sales' before the event is open to the public. Many sales also allow first-time moms (or if you've never shopped the event and have a baby under 1) to sign up and shop the last pre-sale before it's open to the public. Then, there are typically 1-3 days of regular price sales open to anyone off the street. The last day or two, consignors have marked their items with symbols to indicate that the price will drop when there is a sale. There is a 50% off day and then a 75% off day where you can find things for pennies. After the sale ends, the consignors pick up the items they have left or they choose to donate them to whatever charity the event is working with. 

Each event usually has a spring/summer sale and a fall/winter sale. They do not accept clothing for the wrong season within these sales, so you are always shopping for the upcoming seasons. Depending on the size of the sale, they do not to take anything damaged or stained. 

Here's a fun video posted on Divine Consign's instagram last weekend for an inside peek at that particular sale:


I've talked to a few first-timers and they are (understandably) overwhelmed during their first experience. There is a LOT to take in and it's especially difficult if you are still pregnant and not sure what to buy. I'm a little more picky with what I buy but I always find a TON of things. 

Here are a couple tips before you go:

-dress comfortably. I always get hot so I dress in light layers and try not to bring a jacket in with me that I'm just going to take off. I pare down my purse to something small and wear comfortable shoes. 

-bring water and a snack. If you are pregnant, especially. You need the energy! 

-bring a big shopping bag or rolling cart like this. I typically have my stroller or a big reusable bag from T.J. Maxx ($2 in the checkout line). Some people have huge rolling carts but I feel like that would just make me buy more since I typically stop once my bag is getting too bulky to carry. 

-make a list of what you need. New moms tend to have a different list than experienced moms. If you have a registry, decide what you definitely want new and what you would be happy getting used. Things like bumbos, bathtubs, and walkers that don't get too much use are great to find at these sales. If you already have clothes at home, go through them and make a mental note of where you have holes in the wardrobe. Beau is always in need of jammies so I made sure to stock up on those at the last sale. 

Here's how I like to shop:

When the doors open (especially if you're at one of the pre-sales) always head back to the big/more costly items first. Strollers, car seats, baby carriers...these all go fast. I still haven't found a stroller I wanted but I'm hopeful that jogging stroller will appear one day! At this sale, the first item I decided to buy was the door jumper that Mark really wanted. It was in perfect shape and was the only one of its kind, so I snagged it. 

strollers at consigment sales

strollers at consignment sales
BOB stroller 

If you're in the market for any other items like large toys, bathing items, nursing covers, swaddlers, etc., check these out next. I always look here based on need. I found a Baby Merlin's Magic Sleep Suit at the last sale for $6.50. I was SHOCKED at the price and condition so I grabbed it and ran to one of my pregnant friends and told them they needed to buy it and then resell it when they are done for 300-400% of the price (they retail for $46 and usually resell for $20-30 on resale sites and places like eBay). 

Next, I go to shoes. I love shoes and the older the kids get, the more worn the shoes are. So, I like to be one of the first ones at the shoes so I can hopefully find some in good condition. I got these See Kai Run shoes (sold at Nordstrom - brand new!) and some light up Pumas at this sale. 

Lastly, I check out the clothes. There are usually TONS of clothes. I liken the experience to shopping at Ross. You have to thumb through a LOT of junk, but there are some good things hidden in there. I look for brands like BabyGap, Boden, and Janie and Jack. Carters is EVERYWHERE so unless it's really cute, I try to stay away from Carters (I want to resell most of Beau's clothes once we are done having kids and if I have Carters like everyone else, I feel like my chances of selling it are low) Sometimes I find some Old Navy things that are cute (like the Dallas Mavericks shirt) and I like finding brands I've never heard of before, too. 

boden and old navy JBF consignment sale
Baby Boden and Old Navy

boys clothes JBF consignment sale
six pairs of jammies - mostly Carters, Old Navy, and BabyGap; size pairs of shorts - Janie and Jack, Circo, BabyGap, and Cherokee

When I'm looking at clothes, I tend to go really fast. I make a note of where I start and move left to right and make sure I cover the whole section. When I find something I like, I check the front and back for stains, double check the tag (to make sure it's tagged right and to check the brand) and think about what season Beau would wear it in. Then I put it in my bag. I don't always decide 100% that I will get it until later, but I hold onto it just in case. Right before the checkout, most sales have empty tables so you can go through your items and make a final decision. Once I get there, I pull everything out of my bag and go through it all again. I really scrutinize it here and hold it up in the light to look for spit up or other stains, holes, etc. I check the price tag and see if the consignor has it slated to go on sale during the discount days. If I love it and the price is right, I'll take it. If not, and especially if it is going on sale later, I put it back (and plan to come back for the discount days). I ended up buying about half of what I had pulled from Saturday's sale.

Depending on what size or items you are in the market for, coming back for the discount days can be beneficial. I've found that the smaller the size of clothes, the more that is left on the discount days. I did really well in the Fall with Beau's clothes in sizes 6 months and under. I didn't do as well at the Spring sale but I still found some good things that made it worth going back. Here are just a couple of the items I got on Tuesday at the discounted sale:

Toronto Blue Jays Jersey WITH ORIGINAL TAGS - $3.50

I texted Mark to see if he wanted me to get this and his answer was 'duh'. My Canadian husband couldn't turn down a Blue Jays jersey, especially not for that price!

Janie and Jack reversible shirt WITH ORIGINAL TAGS - $2.50

I didn't even realize this shirt was reversible until after I bought it. LOVE the stripes, and Janie and Jack is such a good brand! 


Beau gets a LOT of toys and books as gifts and hand me downs, so I usually don't look at those items during the sale. However, they always have a ton and usually multiples of each so if you are in the market, you can pretty much always find something. It is a great place to find maternity books for cheap!

Obviously, I don't get to shop in the girls section much so I am most familiar with what to look for in the boys section. However, I have a few baby girls in my life and I've started browsing a bit in the girl section as well as the boutique section (which some sales have). Here are some examples of what I found in the boutique girls section:

smocked dresses JBF consignment sale

boutique dresses JBF consignment sale

smocked dresses JBF consignment sale

I got the two smocked dresses at the request of a friend. They were both $15 and in great condition - one with original tags! These usually go for $35 or more brand new so we thought $15 was pretty good. 

I do 95% of Beau's clothes shopping at these sales. I buy ahead and keep a bin of clothes for him to grow into. You just cannot beat the deals and I always find way more variety in this one sale than what I would get by going to multiple stores. With the rate at which Beau goes through clothes (already), there's no reason to spend tons of money on something brand new that might get worn once or twice. Plus, pretty much everything I buy at these sales is in like-new condition; you would never know it has been used by someone else. I've shopped the apps like PoshMark and Kidizen and even though they sometimes have more boutique-y fun items, the prices are at least double (if not more) what I can find at consignment sales. I actually saw quite a few of the same pieces that I had seen on Kidizen for a LOT less on Saturday. 

boden gap smocked carters old navy JBF consignment sale boys clothes

I always do the math at the end of the night and excluding any big ticket items, I average from $2-$4 per item (counting jammies as a set). At the discount days, my average is about $1 per item, sometimes less. I'm always super proud of what I find and what I've paid for it...it makes the whole experience so fun!

As you can see, I usually really stock up at these sales, but since they only happen twice a year, I think that's ok. I buy for two seasons in the span of a couple of weeks and then I don't buy much in between. I have so much fun dressing Beau and knowing that I can do so for so much cheaper than just shopping at Target or anywhere else. I absolutely cannot WAIT to sell all of his things once we are done with kids and make money off of it all! If you like deals and you also like cute things, I highly encourage you to check out your local consignment sale. If you have any questions, please email me or ask it in the comments! Consignment may not be for everyone - I get that - but everyone should try it once! 

Happy shopping!

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