How To

6 Tips to Scoring Big at Kids Consignment Sales

Knowing how to work a kids consignment sale is essential to saving money in parenthood. (Note, if you’ve never changed a diaper, running a garage sale like a business or profitting from spring cleaning might be more your speed.) Kids consignment sales, during which thousands of baby and children’s items can be had for pennies on the dollar, are booming, no small thanks to the current trends of surviving the Great Recession and saving the environment. Here are six tips to making the most of your next kids consignment sale.

Find the best sale.

Two of the major websites listing kids consignment sales across the country are ConsignmentMommies.com and KidsConsignmentSales.com. The first site lists sale dates and shares sale reviews, though you don’t have to verify attendance to write one. A map on KidsConsignmentSales.com makes it easy to zero in on a sale near you, but lacks sale dates for most listings. Both have thousands of listings and are easy to search.

Get into the pre-sale.

Aside from finding the actual consignment sale, this is the most important factor in having a great money-saving experience. The two main ways to get a coveted invite to the private pre-sale is to volunteer or consign. A typical volunteer shift is three hours long and the time requirement of consigning depends on how much gear you have to unload. Some sales offer a limited number of VIP passes for purchase, but the price to buy one could wipe out your savings. The best way to get into the pre-sale is to be a first-time Mom. Strut your prego belly into the pre-sale, and you’re in.

Learn the rules.

Each sale has its own rules that are set by the organizer. Some offer a larger percentage of sales to the consignors who volunteer, others peg your pre-sale entry time to how many volunteer shifts you’ve put in. If you don’t know the rules, you can’t play the game to your best advantage, so do your homework.

Make a list.

Every consignment sale I’ve been to has been overwhelming. Make a list of what you need and want, then make a beeline for your top priority items. The best deals at a kids consignment sale go faster than a flatscreen TV at Walmart on Black Friday. Shop for gear and equipment first, as there is always an excess of clothing.

Go with a friend.

Especially if she or he can snag gear while you’re rummaging through the fast-disappearing collection of toys on the far side of the sale. Plus, a second opinion helps you from going overboard. Remember: all sales are final.

Sign up for emails.

The 300 consignor spots for Kristin Nelson’s LA Kids Consignment Sale in Pasadena, CA sold out within 36 hours (Her wait list is 100+ mommies deep). If you weren’t on her email list, the opportunity flew by without a chance to get in on it. In the same vein, joining a sale’s Facebook page gets you up-to-date info on sale date and location. Plus, you’ll be able to get quick answers to your questions about the sale and read what other shoppers have said about their experiences. Some pages even have contests and giveaways.

Julia writes the money-saving blog BargainBabe.com.