New parents quickly learn to shop the local kids’ consignment sales. Kids grow so fast that one can find awesome gently worn clothes, barely used strollers, and other gear for a fraction of the department store prices. But you need to have a strategy when shopping. Below are a few of our favorite shopping hacks for kids’ consignment sales.
1. KNOW THE RULES
All consignment sales are not created equal. Before you embark on a shopping trip, familiarize yourself with the specific sale’s rules and recommendations. If they say no kids, they mean it. If they say you need a ticket, make sure to get one. And review the hours carefully: Some times may be reserved for sellers and/or volunteers. Many sales also have discount days, so find out when the prices drop and plan accordingly.
2. MAKE A SHOPPING LIST
Sometimes you just want to fly by the seat of your pants. Go with the flow. See where life takes you. But a consignment sale is not the place to do that. Make a detailed list of items you need and items you want. Grab your big-ticket items first and then hit the clothing racks. You don’t want to miss out on that sweet high chair because you got distracted going through adorable jammies.
3. CARRY CASH
Sure, many consignment sales now accept credit cards and debit cards. However, do you really want to be at the mercy of the slow Wi-Fi, or risk losing an awesome item because the card readers go down? Many sales also have a designated line for customers paying cash, and it’s generally the quickest.
4. BYOB (UM, WE MEAN BAGS)
Showing up empty-handed to a consignment sale is going to dramatically boost your stress level. If you’re lucky, they may have a few spare grocery bags lying around—otherwise you’re stuck carrying around huge piles of clothes while your arm muscles scream for mercy. Bring sturdy reusable bags where you can safely stash your clothes, gear, and books. Buying a lot? Some shoppers bring suitcases, empty strollers, or even laundry baskets with ropes attached.
5. LEAVE THE LITTLE ONES HOME
It’s not always possible to run errands without the kids around. But if you can swing it, you should totally try. Consignment sales are basically like grocery shopping squared. You know how the kids beg for cookies? Now picture that only it’s a shiny bike. And while you’re debating the difference between 2T and 24 months, your kids might be ripping open bags of Legos, hiding in racks of clothes, or tripping other shoppers, which will make you want to leave in shame. Plus, you need to be agile to get the best bargains.
6. KNOW THE KIDS’ SIZES
We all know the nightmare of coaxing a tired toddler to try on shoes at the store—and most of us have said, “Forget it!” and just bought the darn shoes knowing we could take them back if they don’t fit. But consignment sales are different, because you get one shot.
Pro tip: Trace around your kids’ shoes on a piece of paper, and you have an instant size guide! You should also jot down current and future sizes to make shopping easier: Think “3T winter, 4T next summer,” and so on.
7. BE CHOOSY ABOUT CLOTHES
If you find your dream stoller, go for it—even if it needs a bit of elbow grease. But when it comes to clothes, you can afford to be a little pickier. Don’t purchase the clothes that are priced too close to retail. Look over every item: Is it stained? Frayed? Simply worn out? Put it back! You should also examine the tags carefully—a seller might accidentally write the wrong size on their paper tag, so you don’t want to get an item home only to find out it’s not what you need.
8. CHECK THE RECALL LIST BEFORE YOU GO
If you are planning to buy hardware such as a stroller, car seat, or crib, check the recall list first so you can have an idea of what not to purchase.