Friday, February 24, 2012

How to Shop a Kids Consignment Sale, Smug Mummy Style

Subtitle: "If I Must Be a Boring Soccer Mom, Let Me Be One with a Well - and Inexpensively - Dressed Child."

We - yes, the Royal "we", since it's Friday and I'm in an uppity sort of mood - are all about the Pretty here, clothes included. When the budget permits, I prefer investing in fewer but better quality items that will stand the test of time, with a few trendy exceptions here & there.

What we (ok, I) don't particularly enjoy is paying a Pretty penny for those items, particularly when it comes to the growing Master P. As I wrote about here, since the wee CEO arrived and Pretty HQ has dropped to one income, I've become much more of a consignment & all-around sale shopper. I get a number of comments on his wardrobe and questions about how exactly to work the consignment sales, so I figured I'd spill our heavily discounted beans here.

*Insert usual disclaimer here about how one person's definition of "inexpensive" or "bargain" may not be another's; I can only speak to what works for us here at Pretty HQ. So there. Nanny nanny boo boo.*

I'm by no means an expert yet, and there's definitely some luck involved, but I've shopped enough of these sales now to have picked up some tricks I wish I'd known when I started:

Favorite "play" tee find from today

Check Craigslist & Church/Neighborhood Bulletins for Sale Information: the non-profit consignment sales tend to be less expensive than consignment stores since there usually isn't an overhead they have to factor into pricing.

Go with a List of Exactly What You Need & How Much You're Willing to Spend: it's so easy to get overwhelmed by the billion zillion choices at these sales. Take an inventory of what your kid needs ahead of time, including measurements if you're shopping shoes and clothes. Identify any brands you're looking for in particular and know what they retail for; I tend to stick with those when I'm consignment shopping so I can quickly assess whether I'm getting a deal, as you have to do at these things.

For example, this morning Master P & I shopped a busy church sale; I went in knowing I was looking for my favorite "play wear" brands 1-2 sizes up from where he is now and Thomas the train toys or DVDs (which may as well be spelled "Thoma$$$" for the retail price). In 20 minutes, I was able to specifically target the boys' & toys' sections, while I noted a few others with that panicked deer-in-headlights look wandering from section to section.

Show Up Early & On the First Day: if the sale starts at 8 am, try to get there by 7:30 am at the latest. Yes, really. Though the second day of a sale is often heavily discounted, the excellent deals tend to go early - like, within the first ten minutes early. Today, for example, we showed up ten minutes after the sale opened, and the best strollers and big play equipment had already sold.

Go Child-Free if You Can (the "duh" step): there are usually long lines both to get in & check out, so plan accordingly.

If You Can't Go Child-Free, Check the Event Logistics for Limitations on Strollers, etc.: Today wasn't a sitter day for Master P, so off we sped in the Trophy Wife Wagon to shop; thankfully this was a rare stroller friendly morning event (ie, during the wee CEO's happiest time of day), so he contentedly read a book while I strolled him & piled our finds atop our Maclaren canopy - which, for any stroller shoppers out there, is completely worthless for its intended purpose of sun-shading but excellent for shopping.

Our ride at today's sale - probably not what Maclaren intended, but it holds a good amount of clothes / toys/ lattes.

Many events prohibit strollers, though, so I'd bring your Baby Bjorn type device if Baby is still small enough. If you can bring a stroller, I'd bring the smallest umbrella you have; these things tend to be crowded, and you don't want to be trying to shove your BOB down a cramped clothing aisle.

Ask ahead if there will be a "hold" section or shopping bags made available so you can shop without lugging heavy stuff around.

Bring Cash: These sales don't often do a good job of advertising this, but - many only take cash, or if they take credit cards they charge a fee. Bringing cash helps you (ok, me) stay on budget as well.

(Extra credit reading: I found this & that helpful in strategizing these sales; for any expectant or new moms, I really liked this book on what was safe/recommended to buy secondhand.)

Any questions or other tips, class? Happy shopping & weekend to you all . . .


Amy @ Forever 29 said...

Ha, that shirt is awesome. We have one that says "I still live with my parents" which makes me giggle a little too much.

Good tips! One extra piece of advice is to take reusable shopping bags to carry your haul. At lots of sales you have to take a grab-and-go approach. Stuff your bag with potential wants and then get to an area where you can inspect better for wear & stains. Keeps things moving and the competition can be fierce!

After a temperature spike this morning I'm realizing how lacking N's wardrobe is and am going to sneak away in the morning to a 50% off sale. Fingers crossed for some good finds!

Shannon Sentences said...

I also highly recommend second-hand kids' stores, like Once Upon a Child - it's where I pick up all my name-brand items!

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