How to Start Selling at Kids Consignment Sales
Are you tired of all the outgrown baby stuff cluttering your attic/your spare room/your basement? Wishing you had a way to get rid of it all at once? Or maybe, in this world of skyrocketing prices for everything under the sun, you’re looking to get a little cash back into your pocket for a change? I’ve written elsewhere about baby consignment sales and how much I love the world of kids consignment. But if you’re new to the world of childrens resale, knowing where to start – and what to avoid in baby consignment – can feel like trying to drink from a firehose.
That’s where this Children’s Consignment Sale Quick-Start Guide comes in. Prepping for your first kids consignment sale event doesn’t have to be overwhelming. This step-by-step guide and the will walk you through what you need to do to go from complete newbie to successful consignor with hundreds of dollars back in your pocket, and lots of no-longer-needed items out of your house and off to someone who can give them a new lease on life!
But before we get started, it’s helpful to go over what consignment sales are, and why I’m passionate about this being the best way to offload your kids’ outgrown stuff.
Your Children’s Consignment Sale Quick-Start Guide
1. What is kids’ consignment? What types of consignment exist?
If you’ve ever wondered how to sell baby clothes for cash, where to sell used baby clothes for cash, the best place to sell baby clothes, or how to sell childrens clothes and get cash for kids stuff, you may already be familiar with local consignment sales.
Many mamas find that local consignment sales are the best place to sell baby clothes as well as sell kids’ stuff, because selling children’s clothes via consignment sales helps you earn more money than other options.
Selling on consignment means that you sell your items with the help of a larger business, and they in turn get a cut of the proceeds. There are several ways to consign:
- In addition to consignment stores with established locations, which will display your items for a fixed period of time (usually several months),
- there are also online children’s consignment options, where you mail in your items and they try to sell them online for you.
- Pop-up kids consignment sales are a bit like massive indoor yard sales; they take place for a short period of time (usually a weekend or long weekend), and thousands of potential buyers shop the items of hundreds of consignors.
Because stores have overhead costs and limited display space, they take a bigger chunk of the profits than do pop-up baby consignment sales. Likewise, online sites can afford to be very choosy about what they accept (e.g., styles no more than two years old, only high-end brands, etc.) and they also take a bigger cut.
2. How do consignment sales work?
While kids consignment sales are similar to holding a garage sale or yard sale in that you price and prep your own items, they tend to be a MUCH more profitable way to get cash for kids stuff. At yard sales, customers expect to pay rock-bottom prices, and foot traffic can be low. At baby consignment sales, items are neatly displayed in a more traditional store-type shopping experience, and quality screening assures better quality items on the sales floor. Better quality means customers are willing to pay more.
But this isn’t the only reason that children’s consignment sales are the BEST place to sell baby clothes.
(Not to mention sell baby items for cash, and get cash for kids stuff your family has outgrown!)
Children’s resale events allow consignors to take home more of their items’ selling price – usually at least 50%, but sometimes up to 80% or even higher – because they have lower overhead costs, and consignors themselves do more of the work:
- With store consignment or online consignment, you hand over your items and they decide what might sell, how to display the item, and what to price it.
- With children’s consignment sales, you price your own items (usually through generating tags in an online tagging system), prep them for display, and put them on the sales floor in the appropriate place so shoppers can find them (toys in the toy section, books in the book section, etc.).
The sale organizers rent the space, publicize the event, and staff different parts of the sales floor (e.g., cashiers at the checkout area). Many of the people working at children’s consignment sales are actually consignors themselves, who volunteer a few hours of their time in exchange for a higher cut of the sales price of every item they sell.
Picking up your items at the end of the sale is optional, but doing so allows you to try again at a different sale, as well as to learn over time how to improve your sell-through rate. (Did you price your items too high compared to other consignors at your event? How well did your outfits stay neatly attached to their hangers?).
3. Why is consignment better than just donating my outgrown stuff?
There are lots of reasons why the consignment business is better for both you, potential sellers, AND the environment:
Helping the most possible people:
Unlike thrift stores that sell pretty much everything, baby consignment sales are a one-stop shop for families looking to save money. These events conduct heavy targeted advertising campaigns, and shoppers will often come from miles around in order to knock off their entire list – whether for a new baby or back-to-school clothes – in one go.
More stuff to people…
At an average children’s consignment sale, I generally sell at least 50% of the clothing I bring; my best-ever sell through was 96%, and some sellers consistently sell ALL their items at a given sale. Whatever I don’t sell at one sale, I can bring back to the next one and sell there. Chances are, if I bring something to all three sales I frequent in a given season, it will sell by season’s end if I’ve priced it right. That’s clothing going directly to someone who can use it when my family has outgrown it.
…and less to landfills:
Only about 10% of donated clothing actually gets sold by thrift stores. The other 90% goes either straight to landfill, or to be “recycled” – some into rags, some by getting shipped to West African countries as part of a $4.3 billion dollar global secondhand clothing trade.
In theory, Africans will then buy and use these clothes (whose availability stunts development of their own local textile industries). But in reality, about 40% get landfilled upon arrival, creating an environmental disaster for local communities.
And plenty gets landfilled in the U.S., too: according to the EPA, in 2018 as much as 11,300 tons of clothing and other textile waste wound up in landfills.
Not to mention, money back in our pockets
When I used to sell and shop at consignment stores, my earnings were rarely enough to cover purchasing the next size up for my children. But when I participate in kids’ consignment sales, my earnings cover far more than what I spend. We’re talking earning enough to pay for braces, family vacations, even school tuition.
How to Get Started Selling On Consignment
When I decided it was time to give my first children’s resale event a try, I spent literally months scouring the internet to figure out how the process worked, and what would guarantee me the best chances of success. That’s why I’m writing this quick-start guide: so you have all the information you need to get started in one place, and can have a successful consignment business side hustle from the very start.
Kids Consignment Step #1: Find a consignment sale event near you
Maybe you’ve already heard the names of some big consignment sale franchises before; if so, that is a good place to start. Or ask your local mama friends if they shop (or consign) at pop-up children’s resale events; if so, which do they recommend? If your kids’ preschool/daycare or your pediatrician’s office has freebie parents’ newspapers with local ads, that’s another good place to start.
Or you could just do a web search. Some ideas to start include:
- consignment events near me
- consignment sales near me
- children’s consignment sales near me
- baby consignment sales near me
- kids consignment sales near me
Or if you live in one of these states, check out these well-known regional events:
- Happy Moms Consignment (NC)
- Kentucky Kids Consignment Sales (KY)
- Lollitots Consignment (TN)
- Mom To Mom Consignment (VA) and Mom 2 Mom Sale (FL)
- Pigtails and Cowlicks (KY/IN)
- WeeUsables Consignment Event(PA)
You can also try searching under these names.
The first two are national (U.S.-based) franchises of children’s consignment sales; the rest are names that several unrelated sales in different parts of the U.S. use:
- Just Between Friends consignment sale
- Rhea Lana sale / Rhea Lana consignment
- Jack and Jill consignment sale
- Kidsignment / Kidzignment
- Little Lambs Consignment Sale
- Pass It On consignment sale
- Sweet Repeats consignment sale
Childrens Resale Step #2: Gather your stuff
Once you’ve chosen a sale, registered online as a consignor, and put the sale and drop-off dates on your calendar, it’s time to start collecting your materials.
But first, memorize your sale’s rules!
BEFORE you get too far in gathering stuff, though, make sure you read EVERYTHING on your sale’s website, especially the section on what you can and can’t sell. Consider printing it out and keeping it near your prep space, to remind you of your sale’s limits. Internalizing every aspect of those rules, before you even start prepping for the sale, will go a long way toward maximizing your profits.
There is no point matching up those old DVDs with cases, or pressing and hanging those juniors’ clothing items, if your sale doesn’t allow DVDs or juniors’ clothing on the sales floor.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen a heartbroken first-time consignor at our sale, wondering on pickup day why half their items got pulled from the sales floor before the doors even opened to shoppers. Especially when double-checking the rules on our sale’s website would have saved them all the time and effort prepping those items and schlepping them over to the sale at drop-off time.
Next, gather your supplies:
At the very least, you will need
- Cleaning supplies (cleaning wipes, paper towel, rubbing alcohol, laundry stain removers, melamine sponges);
- Hanging and attaching supplies (hangers, zip-ties, safety pins, masking tape, packing tape, zip-top bags);
- Either a laser printer and cardstock (check your sale’s rules on printing), or a nearby office-supply store where you can print out your tags.
- Containers both for transporting your items to and from the sale, and for storing them in your home once they’re tagged.
You’ll also need to carve out a well-lit area of your home for your prep work. This space should be free of pets, cooking odors, smoke odors, excessive humidity (think moldy/mildewy smells), and other contaminants that could undo all your hard work before you even get to the sale. Ideally, unless your kids are old enough to help, it should also be a kid-free zone (at least while you’re prepping).
Finally, gather your items:
If you’re like me, you have at least one laundry basket in the house where outgrown clothes land as you accumulate them. Start with these, but don’t forget to go through each kid’s closet whenever the seasons change and set aside things that won’t fit by next season. If possible, sort and store them by season (many sales won’t accept fall/winter items in the spring and vice versa).
Next, go through your kids’ toys and books – either with or without them, whichever works better for your family. I especially like to do this before Christmas and before kids’ birthdays. As you collect items, try to sort them by type so it’s easier to tag them later. Check all games and puzzles for missing pieces; any that aren’t 100% complete, set aside until you find the missing piece(s).
It’s a good idea to have large plastic storage totes to keep toys and games in, so your kids can’t see them. As any experienced consignor can tell you, nothing makes a kid miss their outgrown items more than seeing it in the consignment pile!
Children’s Consignment Sales Step #3: Prep your stuff
This is the most time-consuming step, but also the one that will make the most difference in how much stuff you sell and how much profit you bring home. The more you can think like a buyer here, the better off you’ll be.
Which shopping experience do you prefer? And more importantly, which are you more likely to pay top dollar for?
- A well-organized boutique, where items are neatly hung on racks?
- Or a disheveled sales floor, whether after a stampede of Good Friday shoppers have trampled through, or at the tail end of a going-out-of-business sale?
Before you do anything else, check cpsc.gov/recalls to make sure that nothing you want to sell has been recalled. If it has, go to the manufacturer’s website and see if there is a free repair kit they can send you to fix the recall. Sales won’t sell recalled items, and neither should you.
Stuff that looks nice sells better.
The first thing you want to do is find all the flaws in your items, and fix them BEFORE they get to the sales floor.
- Check clothing for flaws. Mend torn seams; remove stains completely; trim loose threads; replace missing buttons; match up the pieces of multi-piece outfits and swim sets. Then hang them neatly on hangers and iron if needed.
- Scrub shoes clean; wash and/or replace laces; polish to cover minor scuffs. Once they’re clean, zip-tie the pairs together so they don’t get separated. And make sure your shoes are “gently used”; shoes with too much tread wear or major scuffs often won’t sell.
- Tape shut the boxes on complete puzzles and games; this will keep pieces from getting loose.
- Package small multi-piece toys in zip-top bags so pieces stay together.
- Wipe down strollers, toys, booster seats, and other gear. If straps or covers are removable, take them off and machine-wash thoroughly. Use cleaning wipes and/or melamine sponges (Magic Erasers) to remove stray marks. For stroller seats and other fabric you can’t remove, use Folex Carpet Cleaner to spot-clean fabric.
Once you’ve cleaned and hung/packaged all your items, give them a final look-over to make sure there’s nothing you’ve missed. Also check the batteries in any electronic items, since most sales will charge you if you try to sell an item without working batteries.
Children’s Consignment Sales Step #4: Price, tag, and pack your items
Some people like to prep everything first and then enter/tag their items. Some prefer prepping and entering/tagging one category at a time – first all the shoes, then the books, then the clothing. Both systems work equally well; it mainly depends on personal preference, but also on how much stuff you have and how much prep/storage space you have.
Pricing for consignment sales
If you’re familiar with shopping yard/garage sales and also in brick-and-mortar consignment stores, the prices you’ll want to put on your items for a children’s consignment sale are somewhere between the two. Prices vary widely, depending on
- what you’re selling and how much inventory there’s likely to be at your event (infant girls’ clothing is always abundant, whereas play yards or strollers often sell out early),
- the condition of your items (new with tags, barely used, or more clearly in the “gently loved” category),
- product brand and/or features (high-end brands and feature-loaded items will sell for more than discount brands and no-frills items), and
- what your sale’s clientele and location will afford. (Patrons in wealthy suburbs will pay more than those in depressed areas with high unemployment.)
Your own sale’s website, and the sites of other consignment sales in your area, often have pricing guides available for you to download. If not, you can use these rough guidelines as a starting point:
How to price consignment items
- Clothes: Depending on the condition and brand, clothes often sell for anywhere from $2-$10 or 10%-30% of original price (more for party dresses/suits, some costumes, and in-demand items like snow pants, parkas, and swimwear; less for infant clothing and discount or basic brands).
- Shoes: similar to clothes (10%-30% of original price), except higher-end and in-demand items (e.g., hiking boots, Keen sandals, or UGGS) can sell for up to 50% of original price/ up to $20 or even more.
- Books: depends a lot on condition of the book as well as how popular/in demand it is. I find most books sell for anywhere from $1-$4 these days, though pristine multi-story volumes can sometimes sell for more.
- Toys: Depending on the toy and its condition, these can often sell for 25-40% or more of original retail price.
- Feeding gear, bathing equipment, stroller accessories, etc.: Anywhere from 30-50% of original selling price, depending on supply and demand issues as much as anything (is this a highly in-demand item with only a few on the sales floor, or a high-ticket item in great shape?).
- Infant gear (strollers, high chairs, boosters, play yards, etc.): Quality baby gear in good shape is in high demand at children’s consignment sales. Because of this, you can often get away with pricing items in good shape higher than in many other categories. Depending on the condition of an item (e.g., a play mat with all its original accessories vs. one with half missing, or a newer high chair with a stylish neutral-colored washable cover versus an older one whose color is dated and whose fabric looks a bit worn), you can generally ask at least 25%-40% of original price for these items; better-condition, higher-end, or harder-to-find items can sell for 50% or more of the original retail price.
Entering items and attaching tags
Most kids consignment sales will use an online inventory management system, where you’ll enter the description/category/size/price for each item you want to sell, and print out a tag with a scannable barcode to attach to your item. Be sure to follow your consignment sale’s rules to the letter when it comes to printing and attaching tags. If they say white cardstock only or no inkjet printers, they mean it!
Once you’ve printed your tags, be sure you attach them securely to your items. For books, games/puzzles, and other items in original boxes, using painter’s (masking) tape to attach tags will prevent damage to the underlying item. For options where packing tape is a better choice (e.g., items in zip-top bags, or plastic toys), I find that the cheaper/thinner the packing tape you can find, the better; it sticks better.
Packing it all up
Before you pack everything into containers to bring to your drop-off appointment, do one last check (especially of clothing and other fabric items) for any stains you may have missed. Make sure that all electronic items have working batteries, and that all missing pieces have been located/included (or else noted on the item’s tag).
Make sure your clothing items are still separated by gender (boys’/girls; unisex infant clothing often goes in with boys’ on the sales floor) as well as by size. Having your clothes sorted this way before you pack them up will save you tons of time at drop-off.
Since consignors are generally responsible for putting out their own items, you will also save time if you pack like with like. Put all your feeding-related items in one container, all your books in another, your girls’ shoes (sorted by size) into a third, your boys’ shoes (sorted by size – I often use grocery-store bags to keep groups of shoes together) into another, etc.
Childrens Resale Event Step #5: The Sale Itself
Now that you’e done the hard work of prep, it’s time to (hopefully) watch your items fly off the sales floor!
Arriving at drop-off
If your sale requires you to sign up for a drop-off appointment, be sure to honor that appointment time. DO bring your patience, and a set of wheels to help you get things around the sales floor; a dolly or rolling cart, a collapsible wagon, or even an old stroller or carseat carrier can all help you get your things out faster.
And above all else, DON’T bring your children along unless they are old enough to help. Drop-off can be a stressful and even dangerous time for little ones. You won’t want to be keeping an eye on them so they don’t get run over by other consignors who can’t see around the high stack of plastic tubs they’re wheeling in front of them!
During and after the sale
During the sale, try to volunteer at least one or two shifts if at all possible. Not only will this usually increase the percentage of selling price you ultimately take home, it’s a great learning opportunity. Spending a few hours tidying the sales floor will teach you a TON about what sells, what doesn’t sell, and what matters when it comes to presenting your items attractively and pricing them right.
At sale’s end, you usually have the option of picking up your unsold items or donating them. I strongly recommend picking them up. Not only are these things all priced and ready to go for the next sale, but trying to figure out WHY they didn’t sell (did you miss a stain? did you price them too high? did your outfit pieces get separated?) is another great learning opportunity for improvement next time.
Whew – that was a lot! How can I remember it all?
To help you prepare for your sale event and keep track of your progress, I’ve put together this ✅FREE step-by-step printable. It includes worksheets, checklists, and step-by-step reminders to guide you through the entire process, from choosing a sale to packing everything up after pickup, so you can stay organized and on top of each part of the preparations.
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