Happy consignment sale seasons, friends! My local mothers of multiples club already held our spring sale, but there are sales happening nearly every weekend now for spring and summer clothing. I’ve always been a power shopper and hunger for deals, so consignment shopping is practically a hobby with a bonus of necessity with three quickly growing children.
I started attending the big sales once Toby, Eleanor and Callista were near the age of outgrowing all those gifts and hand-me-downs we received before they were born. If you’re blessed like us, the need to purchase our own clothing for them didin’t happen until they were in 9 months sizes.
My second sale season, a fall/winter sale, yielded 64 clothing items, 2 frog potties, 1 booster seat, 1 toy wagon, and 1 Elmo DVD for a grand total of $154.50.
I spent $133 at my third and most recent sale and came home with a stacking train, 2 Sesame Street DVDs, 2 books, 3 backpack leashes, 5 sets of Disney play shoes, 4 pajama sets, 6 dresses, 12 girls’ shirts, 7 boys’ shirts, 7 skirts, 2 jeggings, 2 Melissa & Doug sets, 1 alphabet puzzle & 1 wooden bead-lacing set.
I’ve only had to fill in here and there with new, store-bought items – mostly bottoms, as those wear more quickly for little ones – but I’ve essentially provided three entire wardrobes with inexpensive, gently used items for a fairly small amount of money.
Consignment sales can seem intimidating, but I promise they aren’t that scary. Sure, there are a lot of clothes to sort through, and sure, there can be cutthroat shoppers, but the payoff is so worth it.
How do I do it?
Know the rules. Some sales allow you to only shop with bags. Some allow you to use carts. Some will allow you to bring a stroller. Can you shop early for a small fee? Do you need cash, or will they accept credit cards? Find the sale’s Web site and read the fine print. I prefer to shop with giant reusable shopping bags, but some like to drag a laundry basket by a belt fashioned as a leash/handle.
Make a list, then make lists within your list. Knowing what you want will also help you decide what you’ll need to shop with – how many bags/baskets, etc. Prioritize what you need the most, and locate that section of the sale floor first. You’ll probably want clothing, so figure out what sizes you’ll look for and what types of clothing you want – play clothes, special-occasion clothing, swimwear, specifically elastic-waistband-only bottoms, types of sleeves, etc. I decide sizing based on how quickly my kids have progressed over the last two seasons. I know the clothing details I like best, and I’ve even learned the brands I prefer well enough to quickly recognize them while flipping through clothes on the racks. If you are shopping for toys, browse in your local toy store and choose specific items or brands for which to find at the consignment sale. The same goes for DVDs and books. Get familiar with your desired items, and able to spot what you want as quickly as possible.
While shopping, grab first, ask questions later. Does this shirt have a stain? Does this toy have all its parts? Can I find the same item at a cheaper price? If you find something you potentially want, stash it in your bag or basket and move on. The time it takes for you to inspect or decide could be the time it takes for another shopper to grab one of your coveted items. When your bags/baskets are full or you just need a break, find an out-of-the way spot (or a sorting table, if the sale provides those), and sort through what you’ve found. Inspect for stains and holes, repeat items, best prices and missing pieces then, and return unwanted items to the proper location. Every sale I’ve been to has workers who retrieve such items, so you only need to find a return station. I usually shop and sort and shop and sort and shop a few times before I’m satisfied with what I’ve found.
Focus and move quickly, but give yourself time to be thorough. For me, this means several trips through the different sections I shop. I start with a ton of things and then work backward by return, replacing and filling in where needed. I might grab too many shirts and not enough bottoms after my first round through the racks, or I’ll focus too much on day clothing and leave out pajamas. Giving myself a few hours to be thorough is entirely necessary.
Dress comfortably, and make sure you eat before you go. Hit the bathroom before shopping, and prepare for a shopping marathon. If you’re shopping for more than one child or are at a particularly large or well-stocked sale, you could be in the trenches for three or more hours, and you don’t want to give up your items should you need to leave the sale floor – the only instance I’ve found shopping with a friend is helpful (otherwise, you more or less split up or get separated in the shuffle – consignment shopping isn’t a leisurely trip to the mall with your girlfriend).
Children blast through clothing and toys so quickly that I’ve lost interest in buying much new at a store. It’s in the same “used” condition you’ll find at consignment sales within a short period of use at home, anyhow, so why not save money and skip that breaking-in period? It takes some effort, but the payoff is totally worth the time and energy you’ll spend shopping.
My froyo date is a little short & can't help but yell "ECHO!" in a good-acoustics store, but he's cute & a good kisser.
Look what came in the mail! #triplets
Genius. Their Greek yogurt was too thin with smashed strawberries, so I added "Super Letter" cereal, aka Alphabits with a Super Why box.
Southern belle. (Tutu count: 3.)
Tackle-hugs x3! #triplets
What, you don't wear your socks as mittens? #outcold #ERFing
Happy kiddos! #triplets
NAILED IT. ☀
Boo ya! I was 4 books behind, but I've rallied! Onto book No. 30! #ABeautifulMess #amreading
Because I'm a total lightweight & don't parent while even slightly drunk, & because I finally found plain sparkling water (not club soda) - fizzy, no-rum mojito water FTW!
Eleanor. She's currently my most challenging child - fearless, doesn't listen to "no" & is very attached to me. For all the frustrations, she is joy defined. This face!
OBNOXIOUS. I doubt this is relevant to Gone Girl's story, so why the conception distinction? Do you ever see an IVF-mention for the random next-door singleton baby? (If it is relevant, I'll apologize for my rant.)
Keep your britches on, & try to refrain from telling me how much you loved or hated this book. I waited this long to read it because I didn't want to be swayed by ALL the hype. (Book No. 29 of 2013) #ABeautifulMess #amreading
Cleaning up the dinner mess while my brain visits Hogwarts. If I can't have a new book in my hands, I'm listening to an already-read book on audio. #amreading ⚡
Pizza sauce today. I dropped the messy ladle carrying it in from the grill. Will I ever learn? Probably not.
The summer sun is going to give me 3 tow heads.
"I working," Callista said. "I hiding," Eleanor said. "Playing with strings!" they both said. Sisters. I love being their mama.
I'll start book No. 28 of 2013 as soon as I'm done dicking around with #ABeautifulMess.
These guys are so at home on a farm. I love it. ☺
I think my basket was filled with strawberries minus 1 bite each. #triplets