Why I Won’t Be Selling At A Consignment Sale Again

I love going to the regular consignment sale events in our community. I can’t help it – I love a deal! And I’m not above putting my kids in well-kept used clothes. Or myself either, for that matter. This year was the first time I got to attend a consignment sale as a seller and I was so excited! I have waited for this day since my oldest daughter was born. And then? What a letdown.

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Why I won’t be selling at a consignment sale again

I have an announcement everyone – I’m pregnant with baby #3! Woohoo. My husband and I, and, our daughters, are overjoyed. It was a huge decision for us, which you might know about from my previous post on having another baby when you feel like a failure as a mother. We decided that three was the magic number for us, even though it’s going to be hard. We’re ready for it!

With our first two, we didn’t find out if they were a boy or a girl until they were born. It is really so special not to know and to find out when they come out crying – it’s magical. BUT for our third and final baby (yes, final), we wanted to know as soon as we could if the baby was going to be a boy or a girl. We decided to take an early blood test to determine the sex. We were so happy to find out this one is going to be a boy!

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And the first thing I did after that, was take out all the old baby clothes and start going through them, because not only did I want to have enough for our new baby already on hand but I knew I could take the rest of the items to a consignment sale to make money for more needed clothing! We had a ton of yellow and green baby clothes, which is great, but we also had a TON of pink. I started getting ready for my first consignment sale just about the day after we found out we were having a boy.

It’s a good thing I started about 3 to 4 weeks before the consignment sale because it took that long to get everything ready. And that is reason #1 why I won’t be doing this again – I don’t have a lot of time as a woman who works outside the home, blogs, and has two small children. I barely have time to get dinner on the table and the laundry done. Getting all the consignment sale clothes ready was just too much for my already over-loaded schedule.

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The steps I took to get ready for the sale:

  1. Went through about 10-12 bins of old baby and kids clothes
  2. Organized the stuff we would keep for the new baby and the stuff that would go to the sale
  3. Removed all the stained and damaged clothing from the sale pile
  4. Washed and hung everything that I would be selling
  5. Went to multiple stores, multiple times to get all the specific supplies I needed to tag and hang the clothes
  6. Inventoried the clothing for size and brand and wrote it all in a notebook
  7. Entered the information for the tags into the consignment sale system
  8. Printed the tags
  9. Pinned the tags to the clothes
  10. Hauled 5 bins of clothing to the consignment sale location and waited over an hour to be processed
  11. Walked away and waited for the money to be deposited into my Paypal account

It was so much more work than I expected when I started the process. But as I learned everything I would need to do and how long everything was taking – I was already halfway through and I felt compelled to finish. And, like I said, I have been waiting for this day for 3 and a half years. So I was determined to finish.

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The next biggest reason why I won’t be doing this again is that I spent a lot of money on supplies. I actually tried not to add it all up because it was so depressing, but when I think back, it was, at least, $40 in supplies. That was not an expense I expected. I was selling these old clothes to MAKE money, not SPEND money on supplies.

Supplies I spent money on:

Ziploc Sliders, Safety Pins and Vellum Bristol Card Stocks

I think the cost of supplies for the consignment sale was my biggest disappointment. I had saved some old hangers, but not nearly enough. Same with safety pins – and they are a lot more expensive than I realized. The paper was the worst – I needed maybe 20-30 pages and I had to buy a whole ream of the specific weight paper for this sale.

When I added up all the prices of the items I was selling, it was over $400. That sounds exciting! But the consignment company takes a 30% fee, which lowered the amount significantly. And I knew I couldn’t expect to sell everything. At the end of the sale, I sold about 1/3 of my items and took home about $120. Which, after the cost of supplies and all the time and energy I spent working on it, doesn’t make it worth it to me to try again later.

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However, if it sounds like something you want to try, I did write about how you can make more money selling at consignment sales using what I learned from my sale.  Hopefully your experience with a consignment sale will go much better financially than mine did!

What do you think? Have you had any luck selling at consignment sales?

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44 thoughts on “Why I Won’t Be Selling At A Consignment Sale Again”

  1. I’ve participated in several sales and continue to do so. When I lived in NC the sale I was most active with offered a tagging service for a slightly higher percentage. Now that I live in FL and am very active with the biggest kid’s consignment sale in the area I’m realizing there seems to be a need for that service here….which I’m considering offering. Do you think you’d consider participating selling in another sale if, for an additional 10% of your sales ALL the prep and supplies were taken care of for you? You simply drop off your goods and you’re done. I’m curious how many other busy moms might be interested.

  2. I have done consignment sales too and it is a lot of work. I don’t do them anymore because with my 3 kids, I just don’t have time. A better alternative is taking the clothes to a consignment store. They do the work and it’s generally a 50/50 split. Otherwise, I just donate.

    • I think I will probably try a consignment store next. I even kept one jacket from the sale because it was a puff jacket and I probably would have ruined it with pinning a price tag on.

  3. Your experience sounds identical to mine! I just didn’t find it worth my time/energy for the money I got out of it. I have friends who love it and do it every time. More power to them! I love to donate to the Salvation Army thrift store. They are always so appreciative of my donations. Congrats on baby #3. Boys are so much fun!!

    • Thank you! I am so excited for a little boy (plus a little scared!). My time is so precious having 2 kids and one on the way, I just don’t think the sale the worth all the time I put maybe. Maybe when they’re older….

  4. Tips I can offer as a been-there-done-that mom:

    You can get free hangers from your local dry cleaner. Most sales ask for wire hangers which are cheaper anyway.

    If you do more than once sale, you can leave your items tagged, and in your inventory for the next sale with work needed.

    Price your items like a yard sale. The cheaper they are the more desirable they will be over the many other items in the sale.

    Save the pins and hangers from items you buy at the sale and ask fellow moms to do the same. I have a stash of them now that I save for this. I also save ziploc bags from items I buy to use for the next sale.

    Remember infant items are always in abundance at these sales just like elsewhere.

    Shop online for your supplies. I was able to buy everything I needed for $10 on Amazon, including the card stock.

    Prep items little by little as you go. When you do laundry and something doesn’t fit anymore, throw it on a hanger and write it down. It will be ready for you when you need it.

    Volunteer. Not only do you earn a higher percentage for one hour of your time, but you get a lot of insight as to how everything works.

    My first sale was a lot like yours. More recently, I’ve made as much as $400 by pricing to sell and rolling items over from the last sale with only a few hours of time put in before the sale entering and tagging. Practice makes perfect.

  5. It was your first time, so so much of what you did was just rookie issues of double work and actually getting your clothes ready. Whenever my kids grow out of something it goes in one of 3 bins so I don’t have to re-sort. Also, incest in a tag gun. So much more civilized then the damn pins. Ask on local mom boards for hangers or Old Navy is great for them too. Lastly, I print mine at the local Fedex/Kinkos. I printed 17 pages of tags for less than $4 for a sale last week. I have a full time job and 3 kids 4 and under, but I made about $200 for a days work, donated a bin of clothes, and have 3 less bins in our closests.

  6. My first experience selling to a consignment store was years ago, and I took TONS of nice, gently used toys in there! The woman running it, paid me once and then skipped out of town. She did this to a lot of people and took our things and opened another store in another area.
    I did however sell to a different consignment store years later, but they were super picky. They said my items didn’t meet their standards, only to find other items in worse condition than mine on their racks.
    I have found that the consignment stores I have gone in have been high priced items and not that great of condition.
    Not that all consignment stores are the same because I am positive they aren’t.
    But for me in the area I live in now, I will stick to Goodwill, second hand, pawn shops, and rummage sales!
    🙂

  7. You definitely have to learn the ropes for what are the best sales in your area. Try joining a local moms group on fb if you haven’t already. I always have success with JBF, which is national. And I’ve tagged my stuff for a few flop sales too. But overall, definitely worth it if you have good stuff, price it right and know which sales to sell at.

  8. It is a lot of work! I have had really great success though. I think its worth doing if you do it a little bit at a time. I usually start working on it about 2 months before the sale. I do the entire process in small manageable batches.

  9. Yard sales and consignment sales aren’t worth it to me. I do better donating to a thrift store and taking the tax deduction using the free site ItsDeductible.com. This only works if you itemize deductions, which I already do anyway.

  10. I asked my coworkers to bring all their wire dry cleaning hangers. I also bought label paper (all 1 sheet, not pre cut) for about $10 on Amazon…no safety pins needed. I only do sales if I have some big ticket items in there too. Otherwise, like you said, it’s just not worth it!

  11. I like using ThredUp. They take women’s, maternity, and children’s clothes. Just request a clean out bag, put the washed and folded clothes in it, and mail it out. They may not take all the items you send, but it takes the headache out of consignment.

  12. Wow, our consignment stores are nothing like that. I have a new appreciation for ours now. We have stores for consignment. You make an apt. And they take your boxes. (no hangers needed) They do all that other stuff and you get 50% of whatever they sell. Most even have a charity that they donate to and you can opt to have whatever is left donated to it or returned to you. (Now I know his involves a little trust but I figure, first they’re clothes and items I don’t need anymore so whatever I make is bonus, and if they aren’t giving me all my money or if they aren’t donating like they say, that’s on their conscience not mine.) I have an account at the store and my money goes into it. I can get a check or use the money in store. Some places give you a discount if you use your store earned money instead of taking it out. We have consignment stores for baby kids, adult clothing, and home items.

  13. I used to consign. I loved it and made money. That was even my daughter was a baby and toddler and had clothes that didn’t get worn out as much. I also had the time and energy back then. Now I don’t and she has more clothes that wouldn’t make the cut anymore because she is older and more active. I sell to consignment stores now, and give away or donate what isn’t taken. I still might walk around the sale, but usually only for costumes for dress-up.

    • I know I’m a little late to the party – but, I did consignment sales for about 15 years and I totally agree it’s a huge stress and headache to prep, tag and drop off. Much like yourself I was spending a lot of money on supplies. By the time I covered the $12 consigner fee and she got her 35% cut it was like slave wages. And there were several discount days so he were not very likely to sell many things at full price.. In fact the majority of my items sold on the last day of the sale which was 60% off day. So by the sale took their cut I was making pennies on some items. I now sell anything new or in like new condition on eBay and make far more money..I only utilize consignment sales for large items I can’t ship or that or things not sealable on ebay.

  14. Sigh – about 15 years ago my sister and I took a load of stuff to the antique co-op where you are allowed a booth for fee +%. Fortunately we had a couple of items which offset the cost of the booth. Then the next month we returned same situation. Then 9/11/01 hit. And for the next few months no -one bought anything, understandably. And then the third month we had internal theft (ie- the co-op owner looked the other way at a shopper picking up an item literally behind my back – a $150 item). The cost of gas, time, etc caused us to leave that month. However, since then we have thought about returning but the % and costs have gone up astronomically but traffic into the store has not. Unfortunately we realize now newcomers are funding the co-op owner who has multiple booths unbeknownst to others. Lesson learned: we did real well on ebay for awhile and then that market fizzled. Collectibles are different than children’s clothing but it is so important to know all the details ahead of time no matter what venue or product you are selling, be it clothing, collectibles, repurposed, etc. Also, the size of your community, the demographics. While we live in Southern California it would seem the market is unending – but it is very geographic.

    • I love this viewpoint. Children’s clothing is just one among many things you can consign. With kid’s clothes, you think well there’s always a market…but you never know. Something is only worth what someone will pay for it – no matter how “nice” it is.

  15. Have you heard of Rhea Lana’s Consignment – I was very impressed with her website and story. I don’t have any interest in promoting her venture but it seemed very nice. I don’t know if the % is favorable, though. Congratulations on the new baby. Please consider also donating to your local pregnancy life center.

  16. We have two consignment stores here, we don’t have to tag them ourself. They both have hangers. We take them there and hang them up while there. Sounds so much easier than what you had to go through. Congrats. on the Third baby.

  17. Not for nothing but you can buy a tagging gun with barbs for less than you paid for safety pins and cut your time in half. (HUGE time saver plus another $1-$2 in savings)

    A package of card stock at Walmart is around $5, (there’s an $11 savings)

    Save the hangers from all the clothes you buy for your kids so you don’t have to pay for hangers next time! Call around to local stores or dry cleaners for free hangers! ($10-$12 in savings)

    Potentially saving you $25 and some very valuable time! Don’t give up, Mama!

  18. I consigned for my first time this year with rhea Lana and I’m disappointed in the amount of work it takes and then they take a large cut and lok $12 fee. I make much more money and it’s easier using eBay or selling my clothes in bundles on Facebook. I will never do consignment for a bunch of clothes. I think it’s great if you need extra money and don’t really have a job. But I run a business and I needed extra money for a vacation but now I’m sad lmao. Not worth my time for the amount earned. Just the honest truth. It’s different for everyone. I think if maybe you have a lot of large items it’s ok. But not for clothes. I even have really nice cute clothes and so far I’ve sold like 75% of my items. But still not worth it lol. Never again. Just know it’s extremely time consuming and you have to buy hangers. You have to tag every item and put a sticker on it. The. You have to deliver the items in sequential order. Wtf. Please rhea Lana – keep up with technology. You’re like some outdated garage sale lol

    Now if you’re buying, different story lol

  19. The best way I found is. Once your child has outgrown or quits using the items. Prep it then. Clean it iron it hang it price it enter it in the system and stick it the closet. That way once a sale comes around your stuff is ready and all you have to is register for the sale.

    Also ask dry cleaners for hangers they will give you some for free. Cardstock at Wal Mart cost me $4. My biggest expense is safety pins but if the sale allows a tagger that will cut out the pins. Or buy safety pins in bulk and.they are cheaper.

  20. YES! I usually sell my items to Once Upon a Child because it is just so easy. They do all the work! But a friend of mine suggested I sell at a consignment sale. As I was going through the preparation process, I was starting to feel stressed and when I ran the numbers, I realized that I’ll probably make about the same or even less than if I just sell to Once Upon a Child! And that’s with a lot less work. Anyway, I was looking for posts to see if I’m the only one who experienced this and thanks to your article, I’m not! It was good to read that you have the same perspective. Thank you for writing this!

  21. Me too!! I have been shopping the consignment events (on half-off days, admittedly) for years and I’ve saved a TON of money on some really great clothes for my kids, now 5 and 3. This weekend I started prepping for my first sale as a consignor and… NEVER AGAIN!! I have a new respect for the women that fill those events with so much merchandise each season, because I was gobsmacked at how much time and work it is. My time is so limited, so I think in the future I’ll be selling my used kids closed in bulk lots on Facebook instead!

  22. Glad i cam upon this site. I plan to host a consignment event first and then to open my own consignment shop soon and will take your opinions into account. I plan to offer a valet service at my sale for a nominal fee. I will also give each consignor the option to leave their merchandise after the sale in which the items will be retagged by the store and listed under each consignors number Each consignor will then have sixty additional days to consign their items. At the store’s terms if the sale consignor chooses to do so. All if this will be clearly outlined in original contract signed at the time of event sale i do agree with the tagging gun i couldn’t imagine the safety pins and the work involved
    Hope to see you all at LCJ’S Consignment Closet where we make it easy for our consignors and provide quality merchandise for our customers

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