Old is new again. Vintage is in. And there was a time when people refused to admit that they purchased their clothes and or toys used, but now not only do people admit to purchasing used – they brag about their wonderful finds and savings. Consignment sales and resale stores are popping up all over the country providing parents with an environmentally friendly way to recycle toys, furniture, baby gear, clothing and many other items.
Consignment shopping does require some preparation before you shop so that you can make the most of your shopping trip.
- First, take some time to make a list of those items you need and create a wish list of items as you never know what you may find.
- Second, take some time, either while you are out doing your regular shopping or even online while the children nap to find out what the regular prices are for the items you want and need. Consignment and resale stores normally charge approximately 40-50% of the retail price. If you take the time to do your research you will know if buying used is really worth the search.
- Take a few minutes to visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission (http://www.cpsc.gov) for recent recalls. Go back at least one year as many items donated to a consignment or resale store may have been stored in someone’s home that long before being sent to the sale.
- Take time to look carefully at clothing purchases, not only for stains, but for small tears, missing buttons, and broken zippers. While most consignment and resale stores are particular it is not always possible to catch every thing.
- Shop often. Most stores have merchandise turn over quickly with a constant round of new items coming in. What may be there one week may not be there the next and while you may not find exactly what you were looking for with a little patience and persistence you may find it later.
- Go ahead and look for the name brand items. This is one time where you are not being a “snob” when making your choices. Some name brands are much better quality and you will be able to use them for a longer period of time that an item you purchase as an off brand simply because it was a “bargain.”
- Don’t be shy when shopping at a consignment sale or resale store. When you are a private consignment sale, such as those held by local churches or other non profit organizations you won’t have an opportunity to ask questions about the product you are wanting. It is important that you test the merchandise before you take it home. It is also important to make sure all the parts are attached as many larger toys and furniture are broken down for the sale. It would be a huge disappointment to go home with your wonderful find of a gently used crib to get it home and find that screws are missing. For example, if you are searching for a stroller and find one you like take it for a test drive. Push it around the store or shopping area. Make sure the brakes hold. Pull and push the canopy back and forth. Check to see if the seat belt straps actually snap completely. Check to see if the wheels move correctly and most important fold it up once or twice to determine if it folds easily for you and is easy for you to use and store in your car. If you are shopping at a resale store you can ask questions as well as test drive the merchandise, so take advantage of that opportunity.
- If shopping at a non profit sponsored consignment sale, get there early if you are looking for those big ticket special items like a crib, furniture, outdoor toys, larger items like play kitchens, and other baby gear. People line up long before the doors open to grab these items quickly and if you are there even an hour after the doors open, they most likely will be gone.
- But if you are going just to shop, with a wish list, then go ahead and go late. Many of these type sales will have a specified period of time where many items are half price. This is usually the best time to purchase clothing and there is always so many clothing items to choose from that you can’t lose by waiting.
- If you are shopping at a resale/consignment store then you will most likely only find items that are in season. Space is limited so store owners only accept certain types of clothing during certain seasons. This is not the place to stock up or plan ahead, but non profit sales can be the place to purchase ahead, even to picking up a cute little swimsuit in September for the following summer. Be sure to plan the months out and check that the clothing items you are purchasing correspond to the time of year that your child will be wearing it. It does not save you money to purchase a sweater that will fit your child in July.
- Take a friend with you. This may be one of the more important tips for shopping at a consignment sale. Friends can hold onto bigger items until they are marked by a representative or sales person. They can talk you out of those items you don’t really want or need but hate to walk past because they are such a good bargain. And friends can help you sort through the stacks and rows and aisles crowded with goods and other shoppers. Make sure you treat them to lunch afterwards or just give them the opportunity to get their own shopping done. Last but not least, it is more fun shopping with a friend.
- Another thing to keep in mind when shopping is to set a limit. This may be the most important tip. Do not purchase things simply because they are a good bargain or in anticipation that you may be able to resale them. Make careful choices based on your family and child(ren). Purchase those things that you want and need, but make sure that the purchases you make are smart ones. Carry cash with you once you set your limit. Without the checkbook it is harder to go over your spending limit.
- Which leads me to my last tip – don’t take your credit card with you. Non profit consignment sales won’t take a credit card – cash or check only.
Some people shop at consignment and resale stores, and non profit consignment sales to save money, no matter what their income level is. Some people love the “hunt” for treasure. Some people purchase resale items because of limited budgets. But no matter what your reason is shopping at a consignment sale or resale store is a wonderful way of saving money when buying all the things that you need and want for your child and it is fun.