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Consignment: An Inside Perspective

Consignment: An Inside Perspective

Editor’s Note: Since the Spring Consignments are upon us, I asked a mom who is an “expert” in the field of consignment to share her knowledge and tips. Even if this isn’t your first rodeo, I think you’ll find a lot of great ideas and information which is what Rocket City Mom is all about.

I’ve worked and/or shopped each of the major consignment sales here in the Huntsville/Madison area. Each one is different and all provide a variety of gently used children clothing, toys and gear with some including adult clothes and household items. Their websites (see links below) provide the who, what, when, where and how, and you can participate in the sales by working, consigning, or shopping. These sales can and do change, so check their websites for the most up-to-date information.

Working the Sale

Workers are volunteers and not paid. Instead they receive the privilege of shopping first, before consignors, guests and the public so they get first pick. This can be particularly useful when you are looking for large items or trying to get ready for the first child, or you are looking for a second highchair or crib for Grandpa’s house. Don’t stress; they aren’t paying you. Most of the work is looking for stains and broken items, taking off tags, and moving hung clothes and toys to where they belong. Although there isn’t a lot of training you can always ask for help. You won’t be asked to handle money. KidsKloset offers a referral bonus to workers bringing in new workers. If it’s your first time working, I suggest Tots2Teens and KidsKloset.

How to Consign and Make Money

Consignors pay a fee ($8.00 or less) to consign and receive 66%-70% of the sold item’s price. (Sweet Repeats is trying to grow and offered 80% at their Fall 2010 sale). The consignor sets the price and tags the item by writing the price, their consignor number, and a description on a card and pinning/taping it on the item. If you don’t know what something should be priced, visit Craigslists and Ebay. The consignment websites will say about 1/3 the cost, but it depends on the quality/brand of the item and how sought after it is. Toys are sought after and thus should be priced more than 1/3 their cost. Wipe down the item and press the clothes. This makes them sell better and is a good way to check for stains/breaks. Items that are not sold are returned. An important ‘but’ to this is, if the item is stained or broken it will be pulled and donated (except for Tots2Teens which returns them). There are no guarantees that the item will sell nor that it will not become lost or damaged. Some sales are able to take more care with items than others. A rule of thumb is the bigger the sale, the more people and therefore the higher likelihood of damage. The flip side of that is the bigger the sale, the more people and therefore the higher the likelihood of selling the item. First time consigning? I suggest Tots2Teens; big enough and open long enough to give your item a good chance to sell and no line to wait in to consign. They also accept any tag template which means you can use a tag template that matches another sale and take the Tots2Teen leftovers to someone else’s sale with no added work.

How and Why to Shop Consignment

Shoppers get a selection beyond what is in local stores and at a fraction of the cost new. All the sales are for baby and children clothes and related items. Some sales include maternity, teen through adult clothes, house wares, and furniture. Some sales do not include car seats and other items so if you are looking for something specific check the website first. The items are used so it is important to check the item. There are no returns. A few tips:

  • Measure for length of arm, shirt, pant, dress and bring a tape measure to check clothing for fit.
  • Trace feet on thin cardboard to insert into shoes to check for fit.
  • Bring water, a snack, and a list of wanted items.
  • If you have a budget bring pen/paper or calculator.
  • Use a fanny pack to keep items handy.
  • Bring a laundry basket or hamper to carrier items.
  • For clothes, it helps to hold the item parallel to the light.

First time shopping? The earlier you shop a sale the better the selection but the more crowded it will be and the longer the lines to check out and this is relative to the size of the sale. KKE will likely have the longest wait, then KidsMarket. The others are smaller.

The Breakdown

Tots2Teens is the only consignment sale in Madison. Located on Madison Boulevard behind Golden Rule BBQ. Not the biggest in size but the biggest in variety. They take children and adult clothes, as well as household items and pretty much anything. They offer flexible working times and shopping hours which include weekday and early evening. Consigning is easy too. No lines. You make an appointment to drop your items off and items can be priced as low as $1.00 and in .50 increments. Others have a $2.00 and $3.00 per item limit and $1.00 increments. Also, the space is large with lots of room so items are not jumbled and room to set up cribs and larger items.

HAMOM is a non-profit group. Trinity United Methodist Church on Airport Rd. Non-members can consign and shop, but not work. Look for matching sets since the members are parents of multiples. Profits are given to charity.

Kids Kloset’s sale runs a long weekend, Thursday to Saturday at the Jaycee’s Building of Airport Road near Kids Space. Consigners order barcodes to affix to their tags that identify them. The number of items consigned are limited and they are always in the same building with the same setup. So although they are always full of items for sale, the items are not jumbled and therefore less likely to be damaged but there is not a lot of room to set up big items. It is very organized for consigning, shopping and working. Workers are brought in as groups and orientated and then paired with someone that has worked before.

Klassy Kids Exchange has not been around as long as some others. Their location lately has been in the University Target shopping plaza. They tend to have long lines to consign and when shopping on busy days (first public day, beginning of discount days). Room for big item set up. Mainly open at night during the week.

KidsMarket is big. Over 1300 people consign. As an example, the Spring 2010 sale had 80 feet of hung-tight size 3 girl clothes. Often there are so many items that they become jumbled and unshelved. They are located on South Memorial Parkway past Sam’s and Lowe’s in the Old Tractor Supply. Workers are given badges and instructed. This is marathon shopping. Bring food, water, and laundry baskets. My favorite is the rolling hampers with the extendable handle. Strollers and wagons are not recommended. If you are shorter than 5 ft. 5 in. bring a potty stool to reach the top racks, it will save your arms.

Sweat Repeats is only about 4 years old so it is small and still growing. They limit the number of items you can consign and are usually located in the Harvest/Madison/Capshaw area but the location may change. They do not use workers, yet. Since they are growing, they have been offering a higher percentage back to consignors. Fall 2010 was 80%, others offer 66%-70%.


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