One of many things that smacked me in the face after becoming a mom to two children is the sheer amount of clothing these little hellions need. It seems like as soon as you’ve purchased a new wardrobe, they hit a growth spurt and then you’re back to square one again. And while I’m as obsessed with the insanely adorable outfit options out there as the next person, I don’t love the price tags or what they do to my bank account. The USDA estimates that parents will spend, on average, $600 per year, per child, on clothing.
Enter the consignment sale event.
These events aren’t the typical static consignment stores that may reside in your town, oh no. These pop up only a couple of times per year, they are massive, and they can result in some big-time savings for keeping your children clothed.
Because of pop-up consignment events, I have lowered my annual spending on children’s clothes and supplies to around $400 per year.
That’s for both of my kids, ages 3 and 1. That number includes what I spend on attending the events twice a year as well as additional clothing purchases throughout the year. That means I am coming in at 1/3 of the USDA average. That’s huge.
Let me show you how you can take advantage of these events and help you slash what you spend on clothing.
1. Find a Consignment Event Near You
This website has a listing of many seasonal consignment events by state, but I also encourage you to dig into your local mommy/daddy network (Facebook, school friends, etc) and ask them if they have any info on the local sales events in your area!
2. Only Shop on Discount Days
Most consignment events will have a number of special themed days. They may have a pre-sale for first time moms, they may offer extended hours for consignors, and they may offer the glory that is the half-off day.
The event that I go to hosts a half-off day on the last day of the sale. Not everything is half off, as the consignors can choose which items they don’t want discounted and mark the price card accordingly for that item, but a whole freakin’ lot of it is. I never shop on regular price sale days.
I only shop at the largest event in my city to ensure that there will still be plenty of fabulous inventory left on the last day so that I can get in there and go nuts.
3. Make A Thorough List
This may seem obvious, but if you’re a first timer at one of these events, it is guaranteed that you are going to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who shop these sales. Everyone loves a good bargain, and the attendance at these events is usually astronomical.
The clothing is typically separated first by gender and then by size, so by knowing exactly the sizes and types of clothing that you need before going in, you can save yourself from, in the heat of the moment, having to remember what it is you wanted to buy.
Most events are seasonal with inventory for the upcoming months. So, if you go to an event at the end of the summer, there will only be fall and winter clothing available for sale. Go through your kids’ bedrooms and take note of exactly what you need (long-sleeved polos, winter coat, holiday photo outfit, etc) and in what sizes.
I like to make a list either on my phone or on a piece of paper that I can stick in my back pocket.
4. Make A First Pass
Many events will provide you with a laundry basket or large bag to shop with, but if they don’t… bring your own. I like to shop one section at a time, so I’ll begin with my son or daughter’s section and begin The First Pass.
During The First Pass, I start at the end of each aisle for the size I need and start flippin’. I pick out anything that I like and give it a quick assessment for 3 things:
- Is it eligible for the half-off discount?
- Any easily visible stains, holes, or tears?
- Does the brand match the price? (for example, Walmart brands such as Garanimals or Target brands such as Circo or Cat & Jack should be much cheaper than designer brands)
If the item meets those 3 criteria, into my basket it goes. During The First pass, I pick up way more than I actually intend on buying. If I’m looking for a holiday photo outfit, I may pick up 2 or 3 that I like. I’ll pick up more pants than I need, more shirts, etc. I do this until I’ve browsed most or all of the racks in the section.
5. Sort and Discard
After The First Pass, I take my basket (usually a teetering mountain of clothes at this point) over to a sorting area, which most events will have.
The sorting area consists of a big carpet and some discard racks labeled by category (girls, boys, shoes, etc) so that volunteers can easily return the discards back to the main rack so they are easily available to other shoppers.
So, I plop myself down onto the carpet and sort my mountain of clothes into categories. Pants into one pile, button down shirts in another, polo shirts in a third, etc.
Then I go through and give ’em another check for price/brand match and a more thorough check for stains or other quality issues. I make a discard pile of items that I don’t intend to purchase and double check my list to make sure I picked out items that I absolutely needed.
Then, I hang my discard items on the provided rack and I’m ready to head to my remaining child’s size section to repeat the whole process again!
Consign Your Own Clothes For Extra Savings
You can be both a consignor AND a shopper at these events. You can break even or come out a bit ahead if you have enough to offer for sale. Preparing your clothing for the big consignment events takes a bit of time and effort, but the payoffs can be worth it.
Check the websites of your individual event to learn more about the process and requirements for consigning your own clothes.
Save More Time
At the larger events, the checkout lines can be monstrous, and at peak times you can easily stand in line for hours to complete your purchases. For that reason, many events will offer a service that will skip you to the front of the line for a donation (usually to a charity) of a specific amount, usually around $10. Considering the massive savings I know that I’m getting from buying the majority of my childrens’ clothing from these events, it’s totally worth $10 to skip the line and save myself a few hours!
Have you ever shopped at a consignment event? Do you have questions or comments? Leave them below, I’d love to hear from you!