I may not know much about shopping garage sales, but I’m a pro when it comes to shopping consignment events to save on clothing, toys and gear for my kiddos.
Think of consignment events like one big garage sale – parents collect items that their kids no longer need or use, then clean them up and set prices, and finally bring them to be sold along with lots of other items in one big sale.
Finding a Consignment Event
The first step in shopping consignment events is figuring out where and when a sale is taking place near you. Just Between Friends is the largest consignment event franchise in the U.S. so you’ll most likely find an upcoming sale near you when you search their website, but you’ll likely find other events near you by performing a simple search online.
If you live in the Puget Sound area, we’ve already compiled a list of Puget Sound Consignment Events that you can reference, but if you live elsewhere just do a search for “[your area] + consignment events” to pull up a list.
If you have the time and energy, I recommend shopping multiple sales in your area to save throughout the year.
Preparing for the Sale
The #1 tip I have for shopping consignment events is this: know exactly what you’re looking for before you go to the sale. It’s very easy to walk into an event and be totally overwhelmed by the sheer amount of items available, but if you go in with an idea (even a quick list) you’ll be much more focused.
Before I shop a consignment event, I assess my kids’ current clothing needs. For example, I might jot down that I need a swimsuit, swim shoes and summer dresses for my older daughter (age 3) as well as play clothes for my son (age 5).
It’s also very important to know your sizes. I like to buy a little big, but not too big, to make sure I have enough to keep my kiddos clothed and covered before the next sale comes around (I usually shop two or three sales per year). If you’re planning to buy shoes, trace your kids’ feet and cut them out – the tracings, not your kids’ feet – and bring those with you so you don’t have to remember if Little Susie is a size 7 or a size 8 right now.
Don’t forget that these sales often have bigger-ticket items, too. I’ve gotten highchairs, bouncers, and larger gear for my kids at previous sales with very little trouble.
Researching the Sale
Before you shop, be sure to check the dates and times of the sale. You might need to pay admission the first day or two, and later days of the sale may have items marked down by 50%. Check the event’s website for full details.
If you’re gung-ho, consider presales. These are special events just for new moms, volunteers, consignors, etc. that give you early access to the full collection. To be honest, I’ve never shopped one of these presales because a) I simply just haven’t needed that much stuff and b) I’ve gotten so many good deals by shopping the last day of the sale that I haven’t felt the need to shop early. But that’s just me.
Also be sure you know what form of payment the sale accepts (larger sales will accept credit/debit cards as well as cash).
Shopping the Sale
If a particular sale you’re shopping is charging admission fees, use a coupon if they have them! Just Between Friends in my area always charges $2 for admission on the first day of the sale, but everybody and their mother seems to have free admission coupons to give out so I never pay for that. Check the event’s website, their Facebook page, ask around, etc. to see if there’s a discount available.
I said this before, but it’s a worth another mention: shop half off or discount days near the end of the sale if you’re not desperate to get a particular item. I’ve still found many, many good deals by shopping on these dates.