One of my favorite ways to earn a little cash back and keep stuff from piling up in my house is to sell our old clothes, shoes, and toys. Kids grow so fast that it’s possible to get a bag of items together every fall and spring season just from one child. For a few years I’ve been selling my stuff online via Swap.com, which I love, but this year I was excited to try the local, semi-annual consignment sale in Lynchburg, VA called KidzKraze. It’s so popular that the line to get in the door was wrapped around the building on my first shopping trip last year. Hundreds of consignors submit thousands of pieces every year for cost-conscious buyers to grab over a one-week period. Read on to learn how I prepped my items, priced them, what sold, and ultimately what I gained from the experience.
The process for submitting items for this particular sale was pretty simple. I won’t go into it too much though since it’s probably very different from a regular consignment shop. But what every consignor should do is focus on submitting the best possible items for that particular season and fashion period to get the best price.
Seasonality – KidKraze only accepts clothes according to the season, which is not uncommon for a lot of brick and mortar shops. This rule eliminated a lot of the pants I had set aside to sell, but it makes sense that no one is really checking for long sleeves and pants when it’s approaching summer.
Cleanliness – The biggest rule is no stains and no odors. Either of those is the fastest way to get a customer to put your stuff down or for it to not even get accepted for sale. Me and my bottle of Shout pre-treatment spray became really close during my day of laundry prep. For most stains it worked pretty well. I will admit to submitting one white shirt that had a hardly visible stain right on the front that I somehow missed until after I had already input it into the system as an outfit. Amazingly, it still sold! Shout works great, but during my volunteer shift at the sale, I learned of an even better method that I’ll include in the lessons learned below.
Trend – This matters more so for women’s clothes and not so much for kids clothes, but it should still be considered. The more trendy the style, the more it needs to be current and not so-three-years-ago. One to two years is ok.
Condition – If an item is tattered, threadbare, or has peeling graphics or holes you might as well throw that thing in the trash or send it to Goodwill if it’s not too bad. It will not sell, trust me.
Once my items passed these criteria, I made sure they were freshly laundered, free of wrinkles (as a shopper I can tell you that can make a difference), and pinned on the hanger ready to go. I even cleaned the whites of shoes and worked to get the scuffs out of leather shoes to make them look new. Toys were cleaned as well and given cheap fresh batteries. (Expensive ones eat into your profit margin. Even better is to take half-used batteries out of remotes and replace them with your new cheap ones. The customer just needs to see the item works; then they can buy their own new batteries!). I held my breath when the volunteer reviewed my items, especially when she paused at the white shirt with the barely-there stain. Everything passed!
Pricing can be so difficult, especially when your items have sentimental value. You have to keep the buyer in mind, or you will find your item still on the rack like me! My first yard sale a few years back, I teamed up with a friend of mine and thought sure people would be knocking each other down to buy my stuff. When a few hours passed and I had only sold like two things while my friend sold almost everything she told me the truth. My prices were too high! People come to yard sales, garage sales, thrift shops and consignment shops looking for a deal. They want name brand for way less than half the name brand price on the clearance rack at TJ Maxx. One way to prevent overpricing is to follow the price guides set out by the consignment store owner if they have one posted online. They’ve been doing this for awhile, and they know exactly what their customers will pay for certain styles and brands. Plus it helps you keep the emotion out of it. However, if you have something really special that’s in mint condition, you are justified in raising the price a few dollars. Just don’t go crazy!
A good rule of thumb is 1/4 to 1/3 the retail price for clothes and toys. Here is a pricing by the brand guide I found on the Kidz Kraze website as an example:
Kid’s Clothes (per item)
Carters/Target/Old Navy $1 – $3
Children’s Place/Gap/Dept stores $3 – $5
Gymboree/Justice/Better brands $4 – $8
Boutiques 25%-35% of price paid
New clothing with tags – 50% of price paid
What I Sold
For my first consignment sale, I think I did great. Here are my numbers:
Total Original Items Tagged: 46
Pulled Before Sale: 6
Total Items on the Floor: 40
Sold: 35 (88%)
Total Revenue: $163.75
My Cut (65%): $106.44
For a few hours work plus a 3-hr volunteer shift that I considered an opportunity to meet people, I’d say that was not too bad, and I would do it again. A few items I pulled from the sale because I discovered they didn’t work or me and my son decided we couldn’t part with it. The one loss I took in this deal is that two of the unsold items were marked for donation if not sold, but the other three were not. Those three happened to be pieces I would have loved to get back and try to sell again on Swap.com. (A pair of my son’s black K-Swiss and black leather dress shoes I worked hard on to look like new, and a red polo shirt). I was supposed to come back and pick up any remaining items, but instead made the decision to visit my boyfriend out of town (priorities!) Oh well, as he likes to tell me jokingly, some things you just have to “let go and let Gawd…”
Keep All Pieces Secured Together – During my volunteer shift I saw one lady sulk and search the store for at least an hour because she really wanted this toy house, but the Little People that were supposed to come with it were missing. I don’t know if they ever found those pieces, but if not, the owner inevitably lost out on selling to a highly motivated buyer because those darn Little People walked off.
Don’t Overprice – I mentioned this above, but I want to add that I noticed the closer I stuck to the pricing guide, the faster my items sold. Those items that had me wringing my hands by the last day of the sale were priced when I wasn’t even thinking about that guide.
Discounting is the Cure to Overpricing – When there’s an option to allow your items to be discounted take it! Six of my items might not have been sold at all if they weren’t discounted at 50% on the last day.
Don’t Take Anything Back – If there is an option to automatically donate anything not sold use this service as much as possible. Your uncluttered home will thank you.
Oxi Clean is a Beast! – I overheard one volunteer say that this product did really well in removing stains. I got the opportunity to try it out when a few days later my son spilled red soda all over his white and blue striped Crazy Eight shorts (I was devastated because I planned to sell them as soon as he’s outgrown them of course). Pre-treatment didn’t make the stain budge, but I’m sure it helped. Four hours of soaking in Oxi Clean and I had to squint to see the stain. The next day I washed them, and the stain was completely gone. Move over Shout!
I had never heard of these limited time consignment sales before, but I’m learning they are in cities all over the country. They are great for selling your gently used items quickly, and many of them benefit charities in the community. Wherever you decide to sell, if you put some thought into it and follow my advice of prep and pricing you will definitely earn some cash to offset the cost of the next round of new (or new to you) clothes.