Fall is one of the biggest times of the year for consignment sales. They’ll pop up at local churches, empty big box stores or other places and can save families of young children lots of money. I’ve attended dozens of consignment sales, worked as a clothing picker for years, in addition to working at various places with large, tight crowds.
Consignment sales vary greatly and have almost no consistency of their layouts. Granted if they are annual sales that you attend every season they will have the same layout and location of the merchandise. My wife and I split the assignments when we go consignment shopping. We’ll go at different times, but she’ll always get the clothing or select items and I’ll shift through the larger field and the books.
Have a plan
If there is a certain item or brand you want look for that first. Case in point at the most recent consignment sale she was after anything Shaun the Sheep or ImagineNext, in addition to looking through the clothes. Because she went early and targeted those two items we picked up an ImagineNext play set for $40. It’s an expensive set that retails for $160, had all of the parts, figures and is already up in our attic for Christmas 2013.
My plan was to go on the last day, when most things are 50%.
Avoid the Funnel
Similar to going to Walt Disney World and other crowded areas you need to avoid the funnel. Even in large rooms with isles and rows of things to purchase people will somehow create a funnel, or logjam where they talk, check email or look over purchases.
If you have to do any of those do not do it in a ‘funnel’ area. Likewise, if you have to get across a room and funnel vortex occurs, go around them.
Profile the other shoppers
What are they carrying their purchases in? Is it a laundry basket or small shopping bag? Do they have children with them? A pro to being behind a shopper with children is that they’re more likely to be distracted and will not see some merchandise. The con to being behind a shopper with children is that they’ll move slower, so you’ll cover less territory. Another realization is that you’ll know the size of their child, so if you’re child is the same size then it’s not a good idea to follow them.
Pick a Price
I attended a 50% off day at a consignment sale recently. As per our plan, I purchase the books and do a deeper search through the entire store. 50% off consignment sounds like a great deal and it can be if you mentally think of a price when you see the item.
My math is that I take the retail price of the item and take 50% off that. That is my starting point for items during normal consignment sale days. However, when it’s 50% off consignment prices I think of the retail price and take 80% off of that.
If the book I want to purchase has a retail of $8 and it’s being consigned at $4, that’s not too much of a deal. However, if that same book is clearance consignment priced at $1 or less, then it’s a great deal.
If the book, even if it’s a brand or name that I like, doesn’t meet a price that I’ve set in my head then I move quickly on to the next item. Of course, if it’s a rare item then all of these rules go out of the window.
Know Your Brands
Some brands move quickly and you need to be able to spot them, even a partial logo from a distance. Toddler Mojo loves any of the books from Baby Einstein. I looked for the logo and found a couple that were buried, but they were priced too high so I had to let them go. Some sellers at consignment sales will try to sell popular brand, despite their bad condition or relationship to retail cost, at a high point.
Likewise the color schemes of popular characters or brands. Thomas the Train always uses the same font on their books. Likewise, Sandra Boynton, Patrick McDonnell and any author will have a look to the spine of their books that’s easy to notice. By looking for colors or fonts, in addition to brands on toys or books you’ll be able to shift through the bulk of the merchandise much quicker.
Shop well at these consignment sales and be nice to the volunteers running them. For major discounts and quicker shopping at consignment sales you should consider volunteering at them. This will allow you to shop before the doors open and sometimes get a greater discount too.
What did we miss? Do you have any tips that help you get the most from consignment sales?