Consignment Sale Prep 101 – Clothing

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Have you thought about consigning at a children’s consignment sale, but are intimidated because you have no idea how to transform the mound of clothes and toys into money?

I felt the same way 6 years and 11 consignment sales ago when I first started. I looked at the mountains of clothes and toys that my children had outgrown and was so intimidated I almost didn’t even start.  I had a friend who encouraged me and talked me through preparing for my first sale.  It was definitely worth the effort.  I averaged $350 at each sale and there are two sales a year, so that’s $700 a year for clearing stuff out of our house. 

 

 

After both consigning at and working at over 10 consignment sales in 3 different states, I have figured out how to tackle the whole consignment prep process in smaller, more manageable steps. 

 

 

First
 
Choose the sale you want to consign with. There are many factors to consider; proximity of the sale, percentage you earn, dates of the sale, recommendations of friends. 

 

 

Once you’ve chosen and registered for the sale, take 15-30 minutes to thoroughly read the sale’s guidelines. This is important and will save you a lot of time and frustration in the long run. Since every sale is operated a little differently, be sure to read your sale’s guidelines closely.  And once you’ve read them and signed up to consign, go back and read the guidelines one more time. 

 

 

Second 

 

I keep 3-4 plastic storage tubs in the basement to hold clothes and toys for the consignment sale.  You may have noticed in the picture that my 3-4 tubs are now 6 tubs and boxes.  That’s because we’re cleaning out and getting ready for another military move. 

Throughout the year, I put any piece of clothing that no longer fits or my child no longer likes into the tub. That way when the next sale time comes around, I already have most of the clothing ready to go. In addition, I take about an hour and go through my 10-year old’s closet with him {here}. I also encourage my children to go through their own clothing, toys and books and find items to be consigned by letting them earn the income from the items they contribute.

 

Once you collect all the items you want to consign, you want to separate them into the following categories: boy’s clothing by size, girl’s clothing by size, toys, books, DVDs, and shoes. You’ll prep each category entirely before moving onto the next. 

 

 

Shoes

Starting with shoes and boots, check each pair and make sure they’re in good condition. Clean them up with a damp cloth. Attach the shoes together with a zip tie, ribbon or large safety pin. It’s best to connect them in such a way so that folks can try the shoes on. If there’s absolutely no way to connect the shoes, then put them together in a plastic bag. I’ve seen too many shoppers tear the bag open so they can try the shoes on and then just leave the separate shoes laying around when they don’t choose to purchase them. When that happens, your shoes are less likely to sell because a shopper has to find the 2 matching shoes and the price tag that was on the bag.  To increase the likelyhood of your shoes selling, make it possible for the shoppers to try them on (if at all possible).
Once you’ve got all your shoes and boots ready, then enter the information into the sale’s pricing program. By pricing like items at the same time, you can make sure that your pricing strategy remains consistent.  I found that when I just priced items in no particular order, I’d price similar items very differently on different days.  I guess some days I was rushed and didn’t give much thought to a reasonable price.  It’s best if you price all similar items at the same time so that you can deliberately price your items. 

 

 

Preparing Clothing 

 

When you’re ready to tackle the clothes you have ready, chose either boy clothes or girl clothes to start with and then handle one size at a time. Once you’ve pulled all the items for that size, separate them into similar items; tops, pants, shorts, sweaters, pajamas, coats, etc. Take one of the groups and put them on hangers. Make sure that you’ve checked your sale’s website to see if there is a limit on what kind of hanger you can use. Some sales only let you use wire hangers and others will only let you use plastic hangers.

 

Check your sale’s website, but every sale that I know of wants you to hang your clothes on the hanger with the hook facing to the left.  The hanger hook will look like a question mark.  (see yellow hanger in photo below).

 
clothes on hangers, laying on chairs
Tops, Sweaters, Dresses and Coats
Take the time to iron items that are very wrinkled or creased from storage. You don’t have to go crazy since your items will get wrinkled in the crush of the sale, but the better your items look the more likely they are to sell. 

 

 

When you hang tops, sweater, dresses or coats on a hanger double check that the neck of the item will remain on the hanger. During the sale your hanger and item will be twisted, pulled and pushed around. If your item ends up on the floor, it’s not very likely that it will be sold. You want to do everything you can to make sure that shirt stays on that hanger through the shopping equivalent of a tornado. One you have the item on the hanger try pulling it to one side to see if it will slip off the hanger. If it does slip off the hanger, either chose a larger hanger or add a safety pin to the top of the item to keep in on the hanger. 

 

a closeup of a blue circle showing a safety pin attaching a shirt to a hanger
Button all buttons on shirts. Zip the zipper of coats. If tops have items that can be separated, like belts or ties, safety pin those items to the shirt so they don’t get lost. 

 

 

Once all items are prepared on hangers, sit down to enter them into the pricing program. Enter all similar items, for example all tee-shirts, then all sweaters, then all jackets and then all coats. This allows you to be consistent in your pricing. 

 

 

When you’ve completed entering all items, then move onto the next category But keep each group together by size and category. Once you’ve finished putting all items on hangers and entered them into program, move onto the pants, shorts and skirts. 

 

 

Pants, Shorts and Skirts 

 

 

Hang all pants on hangers. If you are using hanger with built in clips, make sure that the clips are holding the pants securely. If you are using safety pins on wire hangers, the best way to hang them is pinned to the top of the hanger. This gives them more stability on the hanger and keeps them from slipping around on the hanger. Also, pin them at the furthest sides of the waist band, giving them additional stability.

a closeup of a blue circle showing a safety pin attaching pants to a hanger
Enter all like items into the pricing program in groups, for example enter all jeans, then all slacks, then all athletic pants. 

 

 

Tagging Clothing

When I’ve completed entering the prices for all of one size of clothing I print the tags out. I prefer to tag and complete each size before I move onto the next size so I can minimize the mess in my house. 

 

 

Print tags out on card stock. It’s worth the little extra cost to purchase card stock, don’t try to skimp by using printer paper.  I’ve seen many, many items that have lost their tag at the sale because the tag was printed on regular printer paper. The problem is that the tornado that is a consignment sale takes that paper tag, rips it off and whisks it away. Once your item has lost its tag it can’t be sold. You will have done all this work to sell these items and then your item won’t be able to be sold because it doesn’t have a tag on it.  Take the extra time to purchase and use card stock. I buy mine at Wal-mart in the paper section. 

 

 

4 colored labels with a red circle with a line through it over them
 
 

Some folks use colored card stock so that they can find their items that haven’t sold at the end of the sale. I highly recommend only using white card stock. I’ve seen too many instances where the colored card stock won’t work with the scanner. Buyers get frustrated and will sometimes chose not to bother with waiting for the scanner to fight with the colored card stock. You don’t want to lose a sale because you’re using colored card stock. 

 
 To make finding my items at the end of the sale easier, I do take a colored marker and make a line across the top of the tag to help me distinguish my items. 

 

 

Be sure to check the with the directions for your sale to know where to place the price tag on each item.  I prefer to attach the tags with safety pins. Some folks prefer the tagging gun. I know that you can attach the tags much quicker with the tagging gun, but I’ve seen how poorly they hold up during the sale. The tags that are attached with a tagging gun get caught on other items and pulled off much more often than tags that are pinned on. With the tagging gun, the price tag is dangling loose so it easily gets caught and pulled off. When your item loses its tag your item can’t be sold. To address that problem, some people use the tagging gun to attach the tag to the label inside the shirt or pants. But when the price tag is difficult for buyers to find, they just move onto the next item. Remember the buyer is standing there with full arms, often with small children distracting them and with other shoppers that keep getting in their way. You need to make it easier, not more difficult to buy your item. 

 

 

Please, please don’t use straight pins to attach the price tags. Yes, they are cheaper, but the straight pins will not remain neatly pinned through the tornado of the sale. If buyers get stuck by a straight pin on your item they will not want to buy it.
a collage of 4 images of clothes, hangers and a label for a consignment sale
Next week in Conssignment Sale Prep – 102, I’ll cover preparing non-clothing items for consignment. And later in Consignment Sale Prep 201, I’ll explain how to prepare your items for transport to the sale.
 

 

Updated:

Check-out the rest of the series:

   
  Prepping Everything       Packing Items     Loading It All Up

              Else

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3 Comments

  1. I love consignment! We have two stores we use…on is more select than the other (but its closer). Its a great place for my kids to make money by selling their old clothes and toys so they can buy newer toys that they want. I love the savings and the chance to teach my babies about money management. Great tips!

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