Sunday, September 30, 2012

Consignment Events - Tips and Tricks

This one is a doozy, but if you trust me (cue imagery from Disney's Aladdin) then I promise I'll make it worth the read.  If you haven't heard of consignment shopping then click here and skool yo' sef.
Now on to business.  While there are several types of consignment stores (or charity shops) about, a 'consignment event' in the mom community means an event that hosts a feast of frugal frocks and frills for the smallest among us.  Kids often outgrow their clothes and gear before there's much wear, so consigning those items give parents a little padding in the pocketbook whether you're selling or shopping.  
As requested, I just uploaded my Fall Haul on my youtube channel.  If you are interested to see all that I got, head that direction. 
Here are a few insider tricks for those that might be gearing up for their first consignment shopping experience or those that feel overwhelmed by these events.  We're going to tackle it from a shoppers perspective.  Let's go through zee whole process together shall we?

Here's an overview of what we'll cover:
How to find consignment events near you
What to prepare before the event
How to navigate the space
Tricks for a successful trip
What to avoid

  • How to Find Consignment Events Near You
The most common nationally recognized event is called "Just Between Friends" and if you click the link and plug in your zip code, you can see if they host seasonal events in your area.  My friend Christina who is the uncrowned Consingment Queen, let me in on a convenient website called consignmentmommies
Just plug in your regional info and voila!  The hunt is over. 
Once you find an event, make sure to take note of the sale hours closely.  Most events offer special shopping hours to those that are volunteering, consigning their items or first time moms. Those lucky ducks get the first shot at the goods.  If you're interested in joining those ranks, check out how you can volunteer or sell a few of your own things. It's easy peasy!
  • What to Prepare for the Event
Planning on bringing your little one with you?  Check the website and make sure they allow strollers.  Some have tight quarters and will ask you to check your stroller at the door.  Wrangling the wee ones in all of those racks and piles of toys is tricky.  So if possible, leave them at home.
Make a list!  A list will help you cut through the bulk and give you an idea of what you're looking for. Don't freak, I'm not trying to limit you.  In no way do you have to stick to the list. Just use it a guide to keep you from feeling overwhelmed.  Keep it simple, even if you just write a couple of things down, it will help you eagle-eye in on the the best stuff.  Once you take that dive into the treasure trove with a goal you'll find other bits and bobs that catch your eye.
Bring a GIANT bag, laundry basket or tub
 to collect your loot.  Don't worry. You wont be the only one and nobody will look atcha funny, promise!   If they do allow strollers, consider bringing yours even if you have a sitter, it's a great make-shift pack mule on wheels!  Load that bugger up!

Wear comfy clothes with pockets for your list, money and cell phone.  You don't want to have to shop the racks, while dealing with a handbag flonking about every time you move your arm.
Are you shopping for big items like a crib?  Keep a 'Phone-a-Friend' on standby.  Let's say you find the perfect sleigh crib and fall in love but you're not sure if it meets safety guidelines, has been recalled or what the reviews are like.  If you're like me and don't have a smart phone you'll need to call someone that can do a quick Google search on the item for you.
Want to stay on a budget?  Bring cash.  Some sales have a cash only line that will allow you to avoid the massive lines at check out.  By the time you're done, every part of you is wiped out. The last thing you want to do is stand in a 30 minute queue.  But be warned, there's a chance you might find that Pottery Barn bedding set you've been eyeing for a steal.  Budgets can bum a girl out.

  • How to Navigate the Space

The events are divided into sections.  I took a poll on Facebook and it seems most veteran consignment shoppers hit up the same spots first.  If you are expecting, or have a child under a year old then your plan of attack will probably look different from mine.  I'd suggest you search for your big ticket items right outta the gate.  Hit up the pack and plays, high chairs, gliders, breast pumps and bouncers first.  An easy rookie mistake is to leave those things to the end because you don't want to have to lug them around with you.  Problem being, when you return for the item, someone else has snatched it up!  Grab that gorgeous euro-style pram in one arm and a volunteer with the other.  They'll take it to the hold area for you.  Typically they will hold an item for up to two hours.

Here's the game plan I follow for kiddos walking age or older, assuming you already have all your "gear".  I always B-line right to the shoes.  That's one item that I don't want to compromise on quality. Little feetsies and posture are at stake! See the "What To Avoid" section for more on this.  
Next, I shop for any pieces that might be in limited quantity.  Winter coats, holiday clothes or high end clothing like the elusive smocked dress I've been hunting unsuccessfully for will be in high demand. From there I dive into the clothes, then books and finally toys.  The toys are the most likely item at the event to have multiples in stock.  Betcha ten bucks that you see at least 5 little plastic rotary play phones, ya know the ones with the wheels and the smiling faces on them?   Same goes for a lot of the popular brands.  Most consignment shoppers don't go in with toys as their main focus.  It's likely you wont be competing for the goods there.
  • Tricks for a successful trip: 
No matter what age your shopping for I suggest grabbing anything that peaks your interest, even if you're not completely sold on it.  If you leave it on the rack, you're risking the chance it may not be there if you come back.  Hold on to it until you're done shopping and then sort through your haul before you check out.  You might realize later that piece you were unsure of fits perfectly into a cute outfit you've collected in your hunt!  Or maybe you'll find that matching Gymboree cardigan to go with that shirt you saw earlierAfter you've made the rounds to all of the different stations, go through your loot and make final cuts.

Plan your attack!  For clothing or nursery decor, have a color palette in mind.  This might sound kookie but trust me, if you keep certain colors in mind you'll gravitate toward things that will work well together.  Here are few examples from my recent event.  Most of these pieces were sold separately, from different sellers, but I came home with several mix and match outfits!  

  • Things to Avoid
It's easy to get carried away and start tossing anything with that coveted Janie and Jack label into your haul but remember, these items have survived a child before yours.  Give 'em a quick once over first!  If you're looking at pants make sure the waist band is in good condition and the elastic is in tact.  In my haul video I said that I wouldn't have purchased these pink pants had they not been in a set for that very reason.  The waist band is shot!  Had it been in better shape I would have loved these cute little pink skinny jeans.  
Sometimes these problems can be salvaged if the waist band comes with adjustable elastic on the inside (like on the other pink cords I bought), so make sure you take a peeksy.

Other things like loose buttons or strings can be fixed.  If you're looking on shirts run your finger along the inside of the collar. Funny enough, I've had several consignment purchases with peeling tag-less labels printed on the inside. Nobody wants prickly, scratchy plastic poking them in the back.  If it's on a really cute dress I may decide it's worth the extra time at home removing the label.  But if it's on a $1 onsie, I'm not going to bother.  On all items with zippers you'll want to give them a quick trial run.  As long as it's easy up, easy down, toss it in the bag.  When it comes to shoes, I'm really picky.  I only buy shoes with unworn tread on the bottom and no visible shaping to the inner sole.  If you're looking at boots, make sure that there's easy access to get that little foot in there.  I learned that the hard way and have some super darling bookends that were supposed to be wearable boots.  Bad shoes can cause bad problems so be as snooty as you like when it comes to high quality footwear for your wee one.  

Toys can be a crap shoot.  If you're looking at DVDs, it's old technology, so you shouldn't pay more than a few bucks.  At some events they have an area where you can try electronic toys out with fresh batteries.  However, I've only seen that once so you may just have to weigh the risk of buying an item that may not work.  Most people that sell their items at these events are a pretty good sort.
 I usually assume that consigners aren't the type wouldn't sell a broken toy and so far I haven't had one lemon in my loot!  Remember that toys can be subject to recall as well so you may want to keep that phone-a-friend on standby.

Welp.  At this point my bum is numb and my fingertips are all clickity clacked out.  If you've truly read this far then I'm assuming you are just sooo excited for your first event that you're reading/watching anything you can on consignment shopping/hauls.    You've got your battle gear, it's time to get in the game.   *Smacks your tuchus*  Go get 'em champ.

If you have a haul blog or vlog lemmie know!  I'm just as entrenched in the madness as everyone else. Ooh and let me know in the comments if you did read it all.  I promise to be thoroughly   impressed!


  1. read it all... consignment sales around here are few and far between (ok.. there's really only one w/in a 30 minute drive...) Tomorrow just so happens to be the half-price day at that very consignment sale and I'm tempted to go. Staying up until 4:30AM and then attempting my first consignment sale on half-price day is probably a recipe for disaster, right? Add a lack of money into that equation... hm...

    1. Let me know if you find anything great, and if not just pocket that cash in a consignment stash for next time

  2. Read it all. Just attended my first consignment event...and it was a small one. Next one is in a couple of I go at 38-39 weeks pregnant? He he...maybe baby will come early if I do.

    1. Did you find any great steals? Maybe if you go at 38 weeks pregnant you'll ease labor along :)

  3. Read it all! :) Just this Saturday, I attended my first consignment event(very small but very close to my home, we're talking no more than 10 minutes away), inspired by you along with some other mommies on youtube I kinda knew going in what brands to look for...I am currently TTC (a little over 3 years now) but decided it wouldn't hurt to have a stash of clothes for both a boy and a girl, when/ if I find a bigger event in my area I will definitely hit it up for more practical items like a crib and such, I took my pregnant best friend with me (she's due in February) and she was very impressed that there was even such a thing as a consignment event! Loved you haul and all of your videos for that matter!

    1. Thank you and good luck TTC! Hopefully lucky number 3 does it for you!

  4. I love the little embroidered brown boots. I remember growing up in a pair just like that.

    1. Oh and I did read it all. Read it twice, had to show it to a friend who's a brand new mama.

  5. I read it all. Thanks so much Marie. i would have never known of consigning events if I would have never found your channel. I hope soon I can go to one, I sure will be taking along this knowledge you've given. Thanks again.

  6. Great tips! I went to our event twice this week! The hunt never gets old and I was eager to attend for a good week beforehand. I think this kind of post is perfect for a newbie. It's easy to be overwhelmed once you walk in to the event.

  7. You posted this at the perfect time!!! My husband and I just found out we're expecting our first baby and have been looking for ways to make our dream nursery without spending too much! I'm so excited to go to our first event and do our first shopping for the baby!!! Once we get the shopping done I'll put a haul on my blog

    1. Congrats! It can be overwhelming at first but if you make a list it will really really help!

  8. Hi Marie, I really like your blog! I keep hearing (and reading) about consignmentevents. I'm from Holland and I have no idea if there's something like that over here. Time to hit the internet and find out I guess.
    I might have to write a blog about it to if I can find it :)

    1. If there aren't any there yet there will be soon, they're catching on like crazy!

  9. Read the whole thing! I went to my first consignment event a few weeks ago (after being inspired by your vlogs about them), but it was a big disappointment :( Consignment events in Canada are not nearly as good as the US apparently! I will keep trying though, thanks for the awesome tips :)

    ~Laura G

    1. aw man! Yes do keep trying, my first event was a flop as well but I look back now and wonder if it was just because I was so overwhelmed by the bulk of it all.

  10. I read it all ! Really good tips too! Ive been to one event that was an hour away and left with nothing because it was too overwhelming for my first time :( plus it was me, my dd, another mommy friend and her two dds .. all under 3... a little hectic to say the least! Ive been searching for an event closer to home but havent had any luck, but im not giving up :) im a sucker for a good deal haha Thanks for all the tips !!

  11. I did that at my first event as well. That's why I thought this kind of post might be helpful to other new moms. It's a lot to take in, sort through and see the treasures for what they are. :)

  12. I LOVE your blog! I'm a new follower and was hoping that you might return the favor! Just go to:, read it, and follow me if you like it! That'd be AMAZING!!


  13. Read it all! Thanks for this insightful post! Haven't done a ton of consignment shopping for Lola, but now I am motivated. Just spent some time on your youtube channel too. Nice to get an update on how you guys are doing. Such a beautiful family and you are such a talented writer! Keep it coming!:)

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