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Consignment Shops: My Thoughts on Selling Kid’s Clothing

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Every season I purchase a few new clothing items for my son. I typically shop the clearance aisles of local stores like Old Navy, Kohl’s and Gymboree and walk away with a few cute shirts and pants. Within a few weeks of shopping I invariably receive an email message from a former coworker that reads, “I have a few bags of hand-me-downs. Would you like to meet up for lunch and pick them up?”

I am ever so thankful for everything we have received over the past three years. Bags and bags of clothing, toys and other baby related items have saved me a big chunk of money.

I’m a stickler for processing these hand-me-downs as soon as they come in the front door. I pour all of the bags and boxes onto the dining room table and sort by type. Books land in one pile, shirts, pants and toys in another.

I generate a pile for anything I don’t plan to keep. This typically includes pants with zippers and anything that looks particularly worn or too small. It might also include puzzles or toys that I don’t think my son will be interested in or duplicates of items he already owns. In the past I gathered everything together and dragged them off to the donation center.

This time around I picked through the piles and selected a few items in particularly good condition that my son probably wouldn’t wear. This included brand new items that were a size too small for my son as well as dress shirts, pants and sweaters that I don’t typically dress him in.

Yesterday I drove to a local consignment shop to see if they might be worth something. I also added a couple of maternity pants that never quite fit right and three toddler toys.

I didn’t have any expectation for how much I might earn. Since I typically donate these items I figured any amount of money offered would be a bonus.

I carried a medium sized bin into the store and shopped for a bit. After fifteen or twenty minutes a kind cashier invited me back to the front of the store.

I was offered $18.72 in cash or $22.02 in store credit. I selected the cash option, which averaged a pitiful $1.70 per item.

The pile included four brand new items, (a toddler sweatshirt, one pair of pajamas and two 2T onesies), two used Melissa and Doug toys, three like-new maternity items and two pairs of pre-owned toddler pants.

It’s not exactly getting rich money, eh? Since many of the items were free to me, I didn’t feel bad about selling them at such low rates, but if I had paid full price I certainly would’ve felt robbed.

While I was shopping I noticed that the store’s prices were nearly as high as purchasing items for new. So I know that the item they paid me $1.70 for will probably be re-tagged around $15.

I also understand that the store wants to earn as much money as possible and that they are paying me upfront for the merchandise. Honestly I like this model better than one where you don’t get paid unless someone purchases the item you consigned.

I wish I tried consigning sooner. I’m just curious if I had anything else in those donation bags that could have netted a profit. It’s not so much about making money it’s more a curiosity about how much someone would be willing to pay me for them.

Have you ever consigned children’s clothes or toys before? What was your experience?

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Kay

Thursday 5th of February 2015

Just curious but do you feel guilty for taking something someone gave you for free and then turning around and selling it and keeping the money? I got mad at my brother for selling stuff I had given him since he didn't tell me and kept the money. The original reason I gave him the items is because I thought he could use them to save him money. If I had known he was just going to sell them I would have sold them myself. Not trying to say what you did was wrong, just curious if you have any thoughts on that.

One Frugal Girl

Friday 6th of February 2015

I'm intrigued by your comment and plan to write a post to see what others think about your question.

The short answer is no. I do not feel guilty. Here's why... My friend had twin boys. She knows that I cannot possibly use all of the clothing she gives me every season. One time I received thirty pairs of toddler pants. Another time I received twenty pairs of shoes. I wouldn't even have the space in the dresser to store all of these things if I wanted to.

Second, every time I pick up hand-me-downs I specifically ask her if she wants any of them back. Every time she tells me 'no. if you don't need it pass it on to someone else.' Up until now I've done that by donating to friends, family and our local donation center.

Third, I take my friend out to lunch every time I pick up clothes from her. The pitiful amount of money I earned from her hand-me-downs at consignment wouldn't even cover the number of lunches I've paid for over the last three years. I earned $18 for all the stuff I took in. Three quarters of that was stuff that I had purchased myself. Of course, if the items I received were worth hundreds of dollars it might be a different story.

My advice and two cents... If you want stuff back after you lend it to someone let them know. My brother gave me two expensive items: a baby carrier and an expensive toy. He asked me to return them after my son was finished playing with them. For everything else he said keep it, pass it on, whatever. I think you definitely need to set firm expectations of what you expect when you 'give things away.' In the future if you give your brother things I would definitely suggest asking for them back if he isn't going to use them.

Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom

Wednesday 4th of February 2015

I think I'll be checking out my options soon because the pile of clothes in our house for the Little Miss is getting a little unreasonable. I have no plans to keep everything and I haven't been able to give it away to friends, so it's either sell, consign, or donate. I'd like to get some money, but I think I want the bins free mostly.

One Frugal Girl

Friday 6th of February 2015

Up until this point everything has gone to donation. It's the easiest way to get it out of the house quickly. Honestly I didn't want to sort through the nicest things, drag them somewhere and then drag them home if they weren't wanted, but curiosity got the best of me so I figured I'd give consigning a try at least once.