For those of you ready for a cleanout and a payout, the semi-annual consignment sales in your area are a great place to start. If you still have growing children, you will also want to shop there (here are my best tips for shopping consignment sales). By taking the right steps, you can walk away with more cash than you spent — plus gain a closet / attic / garage that you haven’t seen in a while.
I have shopped at over a dozen consignment sales, and volunteered and/or consigned at half of them. After cleaning up after the sales and packing up my unsold items, I have a good idea of what sells, what doesn’t, and why. Here are my best tips and tricks for successfully cleaning out your home and making a few bucks in the process.
Sign Up to Consign
The first step is to scope out the consignment sales in your area and pick the one that has the best value for you. (Here are the factors you should consider when choosing a consignment sale). Be on the alert for sign-ups, because the best sales fill up quickly. If you don’t sign up soon after registration opens, you may miss your chance to consign at that sale.
Choose What to Sell
If you have ever been to a consignment sale right before it shuts down, or volunteered to clean up, you will quickly get a good idea of what items don’t sell — at any price. In my experience, they are:
- Feeding gear
- Generic dishwasher racks (the specialty racks will sell [e.g., Dr. Brown’s])
- Babyproofing items like furniture straps and outlet covers that are out of their original packaging (Parents tend to buy these new, and don’t tend to plan in advance for them)
- Pumping-related items
- Cloth diapers
- Swaddle blankets (the specialty blankets will sell [e.g., SwaddleMe])
- Non-breathable bumpers
Clean Your Items Carefully
How does it look? How does it smell? Would you buy it in its current condition?
Remove all stickers, wash off all marks, and remove all stains on clothing. If the clothing is still stained, you can’t sell it. If a toy is still peppered with stickers, you will have to mark the price down significantly. All of your baby gear items should be in fabulous condition; because you know how first-time moms are about their perfect little newborns 😉 All of your items for sale should smell great or not at all, and not have any pet hair on them.
Properly cleaning and packaging your items can be the difference between selling or not selling them.
Package Your Items Thoughtfully
Package the item so curious buyers can inspect it but not wreck it. If you have the original box for the item, but the item has been taken out and used, just toss the original box and package the item in a clear bag with any other pieces that came in the box. (Or, put the accessories in a bag and attach it to the item) Otherwise, people will open the original box to make sure the condition of the item is OK. All it takes to ruin your sale is one person putting the item back improperly, losing an accessory, or separating the price tag from the item.
Use tape carefully. I once bought a board puzzle that had the pieces taped onto the puzzle. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking when I bought it, because all the pictures on the puzzle ripped off when I took off the tape. Instead of tape, use a Ziploc bag or cellophane, and tape the bag or cellophane tightly to the puzzle so the pieces stay in the right place. You don’t want a customer to have to imagine what the puzzle will look like when it’s done, or whether all the pieces are there. Display it properly and price it right, and you’ll make the sale.
I also put books in Ziploc bags. That way, I am more likely to sell a less-popular book because it’s packaged with a popular one. I choose books that have the same audience age and interests. This is easy for books by the same author or with the same character, like Thomas the Tank Engine, Clifford, Berenstain Bears, etc.
If it needs batteries, put some batteries in it. I always make sure an item works before I buy it. You don’t have to put new batteries in it (that might cost more that what you’ll get back). Grab an older battery that’s in a currently used toy and switch it out for a new one, then put the older battery in the item you’re selling.
Price Your Items Appropriately
Experienced consignment sale shoppers should price your items a little higher than you would like to pay. I know you, and your price points are low! But not everyone at a consignment sale is looking for rock-bottom prices. The item may not sell at the pre-sale, but as long as it’s in good condition and reasonably priced, it will sell. But you know that, because you’re an experienced consignment shopper.
New consignment sale shoppers should price your items a little lower than what you would pay for the item. If you haven’t already experienced the thrill of getting baby gear for 70% off of retail, then you probably have a higher price point than the typical consignment sale shopper. Take a look at my suggested prices for particular items, below.
Some items, although they may have cost you a pretty penny, need to priced low in order to sell. These are the items I’m always picking up when I clean up after a consignment sale. If you want them out of your home, below is my suggested price; and you should still mark them as half-price if you have that option:
- Baby Bjorn (there will be other, newer styles of baby carriers at the sale) — $5
- Potty Seat in great condition — $5
- Diaper Pail with no odor or stains — $5
- Infant Tub, with the insert / sling for Newborns — $8 (I paid $10 for one, because I wasn’t going to any other consignment sales and it was the best of the bunch. Let’s just say that they weren’t flying off the shelves at that sale)
- Safety Items in original packaging (outlet covers, furniture straps, etc.) — $1
- Specialty swaddle blankets, in great condition (SwaddleMe, Sleep sacks, Miracle Blankets) — $2
If you frequent consignment sales, you know what items are typical and what items are rare finds. If you have a “rare find” item, you can price it accordingly if it’s in great condition.
- LEGO table — $25- 40, depending on size and condition
- Play kitchen — $35 – $60, depending on brand
- Train table — $40
- Bicycle — $30
- Toy storage — $25 – $50
- Snap N Go stroller (although there will probably be 2-3 of them at any sale, they are in high demand — up to a certain price point) — $20-$30
Some baby gear items are very common. You will have to price them at 60-70% off of retail to sell them, they must be in excellent condition, and even then you might not sell them. The ubiquitous baby gear items, and my suggested prices are:
- Jumperoo — $25
- Exersaucer — $25
- Play mat — $15
- Ride-on Toy — $10 in excellent condition
- Bouncy chair — $12
- Swing — $20 – $35
- High Chairs that strap on to a regular chair — $10-$20, depending on model
If you have a high end stroller, you will not get what it’s worth at a consignment sale, and even if you do, you will have to pay a percentage of that price to the sale. Sell your high end stroller on craigslist or at a yard sale, where you can lower the price if you see that you priced it too high. I have seen strollers at consignment sales priced at $75 – $150, and I’m sure that’s what they’re worth, but what are the odds that a consignment sale shopper is looking for that exact make and model of the stroller? Low. The odds are low. People go to consignment sales to get serious deals, and a $150 stroller is not one of them.
This same principle goes for cloth diapers and fancy bedding sets — the buyers who will pay you what they’re worth will be looking for them on craigslist or cloth diaper exchanges, not at consignment sales.
Does the sale have a half-priced day? My strategy for sales that have a half-priced day is to be somewhat ambitious on the full price of the item and allow it to sell for half price. That way, you can shoot for the stars with your aggressive price but will probably still sell it even if it’s sold at half price. For example, if I have a Jumperoo in great condition, I will price it at $38 full price, and mark it for half off. Anyone who likes it on the full-price day will see that it’ll be an awesome price at the half-day sale ($18), and pay full price instead of taking the risk of losing out on the even better deal on half-price day. That also means that, even if you don’t get $38 for the jumperoo on day 1, you will definitely sell it on half-priced day, because that price is an absolute steal.
All in all, consigning your kids’ gear at a consignment sale is a great way to do one big cleanout for a lot less hassle than selling the items piecemeal on ebay or craigslist. You’ll make a little less money, but it will get done — which can be priceless! If you have any questions, or are wondering what to price some items I haven’t mentioned, please comment and let the readers and me chime in!