Written by Lucy Bennett
Moms and dads know that as your child grows, so does the hole in your wallet. And just because your child may grow out of the clothes in a matter of months does not mean the clothes are less expensive.
Consignment sales, which generally happen in the spring and fall, offer parents an opportunity to buy gently used clothes for far below retail. They also offer parents an opportunity to make some money on those clothes after they are outgrown.
Where Does the Money Go?
Each sale works differently. Some benefit a cause or an organization while others are run by people as a small business. But in general, the money goes back to the sellers. How much money goes back to the seller depends on the sale and frequently on how many shifts the consignor works.
Sales are generally staffed with volunteers. The benefits of volunteering are different for each sale, but generally volunteers make a higher percentage on their sales and they are invited to a presale before the sale opens to the public.
Are the Prices Really Worth It?
It all depends on the sales. Most sales let you price your own items, which means some consignors may price items higher than others. It’s not unusual to see the same item for two different prices.
Many sales offer a half price sale for the last hour or longer of their sale on some or all of their items. The half price sale is usually on some, but not all items, so be sure to find out the rules of the sale you are attending.
What Can I Buy?
Most sales sell kids clothes, as well as pregnancy clothes. In addition to every day clothes, you can find coats, shoes and boots and sometimes even Halloween costumes or holiday clothes.
They sell toys, books and other baby and child items, ranging from strollers, high chairs, bouncy seats and tricycles to outlet covers, bottles and diaper bags. Each sale has its own set of rules, which can usually be viewed on its website.
How is This Different From a Consignment Store?
A consignment store is open like a normal store. These sales are usually events that happen for one to two days a few times a year.
In my experience, the prices are better at consignment sales than at consignment stores.
- If you go early, the sale will be packed with more merchandise and harder to navigate, so leave your child with a babysitter, or use a carrier, because some sales ban strollers, while others allow it, but it can be a nightmare.
- Bringing your own bags can be helpful not just so you have something to take your items home in, but also as you walk around the sale. IKEA bags or something that size can be ideal. You never know when you’re going to see that perfect, but large toy and you still have to go through a number of clothes racks. Being able to put that toy in your bag with everything else rather than having to juggle can be a lifesaver.
- Not all sales take credit, so check beforehand and make sure you have enough cash if you’re going to need it.
- Going early does mean you’ll have better selection, but don’t think there will be nothing left at the end. It all depends on the sale, the consignors and the other shoppers and their tastes. I’ve seen plenty of really nice things at sales that never sold, despite great prices.
- Kids grow, and sizes are not uniform. Take a string and get the inseem of a pair of pants that fit now and tie a knot in the string. Tie another knot for the length arm. I've started also tying a knot for his waste in case pants aren't adjustable of elastic. Then you have one piece of string to take with you and you know you want it to be that size or up to an inch bigger for the next season's clothes.
- Do you have any great insider tips? Please share them in the comments area below.
Area Consignment Sales
St. Luke Greek Orthodox Community Center
35 N. Malin Rd.
Broomall, PA 19008
- Friday 11 a.m.- 8 p.m.
- Saturday 8:30 a.m. - Noon (Half Price Sale Day)
Trinity Lutheran Church
1000 W. Main St.
Lansdale, PA 19446
- Saturday 8 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Kimberton Fire Co. and Fairgrounds
61 Firehouse Ln., Phoenixville, PA 19460
St. Katharine of Siena
S. Aberdeen Avenue
Wayne, PA 19087
- Saturday 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. (Half Price sale: 1-2 p.m.)
Nov. 8 & 9
Armenian Martyrs' Congregational Church
100 N. Edmond’s Avenue
Havertown, PA 19083