1. Make a list and check it twice.
Do some inventory of your kids’ closets, and decide what they need for this season. Do they need school clothes, jeans, jackets, church outfits, winter pajamas? The good news is that many sales go by season, so you'll be sure to find what you need to get through the next few months.
Make a list for your purse or wallet and be sure to mark down sizes, quantity, and what you’re willing to spend. I write up a list for each sale, and always make sure to browse other shop areas because I inevitably find a super cool toy, adorable pair of shoes, or a like-new series of books that I didn’t even know I was looking for!
2. Double check the website before you shop.
If the sale has its own website, it’s always a good idea to take a peek online before you shop. Sales often move locations, and there can be multiple shopping sessions for volunteers, consignors, military families, etc. Save yourself time and check it all out online before loading the kids into the minivan.
3. Know your budget.
I hate the word “budget,” but many of us are limited in what we can spend these days. Talk to your spouse or significant other before you shop and set a reasonable limit for yourself. There are loads of great bargains to find at these sales, but it can be easy to overspend if you aren’t careful. Bring a calculator and go through your purchases before you hit the check-out line. Your fellow shoppers will thank you!
4. The early bird gets the worm…or the Lilly Pulitzer dress.
Sign up to volunteer or consign for the bonus of shopping early! (Be sure to ask the organizers for specifics) If there are certain big ticket items you’re on the hunt for, you’ll want to arrive and get in line early. I’ve seen people waiting in line an hour or more before the sale begins. Those are the folks who snag the cool racecar bed or the like-new doll house.
Even if you’re just planning on strolling through the sale to pick up a few things, it’s still a good idea to arrive and get in line a few minutes early. Make sure you have your wallet, some snacks for the kiddos, something to carry your purchases before the doors open.
5. It’s in the bag.
I can’t tell you how many moms I’ve run into at the sales over the years who wish they had thought to bring something to hold their new finds. Armloads of clothes, shoes, toys, and books can be heavy and cumbersome. Bring a reusable shopping bag, laundry basket, bin, or small wagon to tote your purchases in. I used to use my double stroller!
6. Be a gracious shopper.
This is possibly my number one tip! Consider your fellow shoppers as you browse the sale. It’s easy to get all hyped up on the excitement over some great bargains, but is it really necessary to go down the Girls 5T section and sweep mounds and mounds of clothes into your bin or wagon without even looking at them? There are enough fab finds for everyone if we remember our manners! We’re all busy parents with crazy schedules…we can help each other out by keeping an eye on our own kids, refraining from the “grab and go” shopping tactic, and just generally being mindful of others.
7. Inspect your gadgets.
Most consignment organizers do a fantastic job of making sure consignors are aware of what is deemed acceptable for sale. But it’s still a good idea to examine each item for parts, size, wear and tear, etc. before you purchase it. It’s easy to find yourself in a hurry to check out, only to later discover that you accidentally bought a size 3T shirt instead of the size 4T your son needed.
8. Don’t be a stranger.
If you must, factor in a second shopping day to your budget. Some consignment sales offer a Half Price Day, and I always find at least two or three items when I make the effort to stop back in. Many, many items are marked down, and it’s easy to spot a few more impressive bargains that you might not have spied on your last shopping trip.
What about YOU? Do you have any Consignment Sale Shopping Tips?