Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Consignment Sale Preparation Tips

Sorting through piles of your family's old clothing, toys, gear, and books can be a lot of work, especially if you have allowed it to pile up in your basement for multiple years like I have. Fortunately, a lot of this stuff is on its way out of here in just a few days. I can't wait!

Right now I'm focusing on preparing items to drop off at the consignment sale. Here is how I do it:
  • First of all, I recognize that most of our used clothing will NOT be consigned as they are too worn, stained, or damaged. The people at the sale inspect the incoming items and only items in good condition will be accepted. It saves me a ton of time up front if I am carefully selective as to what I prepare for the sale. This is very important, as it is painful to have your items rejected after you have spent time getting them ready.
  • I price to sell. When I am setting prices for these clothes, I have to remember that I will only receive a percentage of the paid price (this percentage varies depending on the sale). I also have to remember that some money is better than no money, so I try to price my items affordably. This means that you have to forget what you paid when the item was new(er). Imagine what you would pay for the item in the condition it's in right now. I want someone to pick up the nice shirt that my son refused to ever wear and think, "Wow! This is a great shirt for a great price!" then buy it, take it home, and do a happy dance while showing off all her great deals to her husband, who thinks she has gone mildly insane (or maybe I'm the only person who does this?). My goal is to have as little as possible left over after the sale.
  • Make a tracking system for yourself. I have tried various things in the past to help me keep track of my consignment items, and this year I have a new plan. I have to attach an index card to each item, describing the item, the price, and my consignor number. I have numbered the back of the index cards from 1 to 310, so that when they mail my index cards back to me with my payment, I can get a better idea of what sold and what didn't. As I attach cards to items, I'll create a list like this:
1-100 Children's clothes
101-120 Maternity clothes
121-150 Books/DVDs/Videos

When the cards are returned to me I can put them in order and see how many items didn't sell, and have an general idea of what the item was. If I'm missing #130, I'll know it was a book or DVD that didn't sell. I have the option to pick up the items that don't sell, but this time I'm going to allow them to be donated. I still want to know how much sold vs. how much was donated, though! I'm hoping this system will work.

At this point I've finished sorting, and now I need to focus on pricing and packaging toys and gear up to transport to the sale on Thursday morning. The remainder of the clothing items will be donated to Goodwill, where they will make good use of them.  Unless someone at the yard sale wants to buy something, I won't stop them!

I should explain that we've tried to sell clothes and books at past yard sales, and we don't have much luck, which is why we're sending the kids' clothes, books, gear, and toys off to the consignment sale, where there will be many more shoppers, and focusing the yard sale on household items and larger items. We won't get as much of the profit, but we will connect our items with people who want and need them.

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