“Give me ALL the stuff!”
I remember feeling this way in the aisles of Babies R Us (RIP ☹) creating our baby registry. Having a baby went beyond the frivolity of the bridal shower requests – these items would help sustain a human life. So err on the side of caution and get it all, right? Now several years, and two more babies, later; I know better. While I may have only needed a third of that stuff, it’s still in the house. There’s also a collection of even more stuff that has amassed with each holiday and grown out size. I need it cleared my sanity. And, let’s face it, to make room for new kid stuff.
But this ever-evolving cycle of kid need is expensive! How do you deal?
Get creative with your shopping and increase your income in the easiest way possible – by using what you already have.
There’s a huge market for selling kid’s stuff. How many articles of clothing in your child’s closet were worn once or twice – if at all? There’s another parent out there who may want it. Some toys hold up well over time and have a long life even after your child is done with it. Another kid may love it. As a shopper, I go to sales to scout things I’m not sure my kids will like yet. If they do – great! And if not, I don’t feel like I’ve wasted lots of money. So why not allow others the chance to enjoy what you’re done with? AND make money off your efforts!
Navigating the differences in selling methods can be confusing though. Overwhelming, too. So let me break it down for you so you can escape the noisy plastic toy, bottles galore, baby clothes explosion that is the infant and toddler years (and beyond!).
In consignment, a seller puts items up for sale through a type of third-party. The items are either new or gently used. That third-party then keeps a portion of the sale as compensation for delivering the sale. You’re generally paid when the item sells. The sale or shop brings the people, and you bring the stuff.
Prices are generally marked at about 1/3 of retail price or less. Your take home profit will then be a chunk of what you sell for. For example, the Just Between Friends franchise sales bring large crowds. In both local sales, you’ll take home 60% of your profit and pay a small consignor fee (about $10-11). You can offset participation costs and increase profit by working shifts at the sale. They’ll also offer shopping incentives for consigning and working by letting you into pre-sales early and/or waiving entrance ticket fees. I consigned recently and calculated that working a 4-hour shift would have increased my profit by $90. Think of that hourly and it’s not so bad.
Consignment sales can be fairly rule-driven (generally for good reason). Some sales won’t let you sell items like breast pumps, crib bumpers, and bottle nipples. For legal reasons, you’ll have to sign that you’ve checked for recalls and safety concerns with items. They abide by seasons for which clothes can be sold too. Most sales are very helpful with questions, though. So you’ll have to do the leg-work and be strategic in your selling method.
Pros: No haggling or dealing with your customers. Just get the stuff to the sale and watch your profit go! If your stuff doesn’t sell, you can pick it up to try again in the future or mark it for donation. Checks are often delivered quickly and easily too. It’s a more hands-off way to make some cash off the clutter. If you can devote the time, it’s a method I highly recommend.
Cons: It’s a lot of prep. You need to procure hangers and tagging materials. Items need to look as new as possible on the hanger to get a sale. Personally, I spend a lot of time re-washing, hanging, re-hanging and organizing, bagging, and ironing before creating tags. Tagging then involves entering items on the computer, printing, cutting, and getting it safely on the item. The rules for each sale may not be conducive to things you hope to sell at that time too. So if time is of the essence (and your patience), you may just be a better shopper here than seller. Giving a percentage of your profit to the sale/shop may not be your thing either.
Mommy Markets are reminiscent of a focused yard-sale. Generally, Mommy Markets are hosted by organizations (churches, parent-school groups etc) as a fundraiser. You’ll pay a small cost up front (probably close to the consigner fee at the consignment sales) to have a table. The organization handles all marketing for the event and attracts your target audience. Then, you sell away!
There’s more flexibility in what you can sell at a Mommy Market as opposed to a consignment sale. Without as many restrictions, you may be able to sell that breast pump motor or crib bumper (verify with the sale that it’s okay before you do though). You generally won’t be held to as many rules about seasonal clothes too. So if you want to sell that snow suit in April, you can!
As a shopper: approach this like you’re going to a multi-family yard sale. Bring cash. Be prepared to dig through bins of clothing if needed. And bring some bags to take things home. As a seller: arrive with a stocked cash box unless told otherwise.
Pros: Potential for more profit! Because your only cost is the table fee, you keep whatever you make. Less time-consuming prep than a consignment sale. You create your “tags” yard sale style. Slap on some price stickers, make a sign on scrap paper – whatever you want. Mommy Markets are great if you feel you don’t have enough to sell at a consignment sale to make it worth the time and effort. Or if you still want to make some money without all the up-front hassle. By calling it a Mommy Market, you know you’re getting people interested in buying kids items too – which is better than a general yard sale.
Cons: Be ready for some haggling. Some people like to bargain at these events even more than the bargain you’re offering the items for. You’ll still have to do some prep with your items too. If it doesn’t look presentable, people won’t buy it. While it doesn’t have to be as perfect as a consignment sale, you have to strike the balance of presentation for profitability.
Online Yard Sale Groups and Sites
Ah, the advantage of technology! Instead of gathering all your things up for that potentially rainy Saturday morning, sell items one by one. Take a picture, provide a description, and name your price. Then, wait for the messages to come in!
Participating in yard sales on social media is like learning a new language at times. I’m guilty of Googling what acronyms meant 😊 . Comment “interested” when you want the item and wait for the seller to contact you with details. PPU = pending pick-up (a.k.a. someone is supposed to buy it but the seller doesn’t want to mark it sold until the sale is complete). Porch pick-up means a seller will leave the item on their porch, you pick it up and leave the money with no face-to-face interaction.
Quality of the items definitely varies here. As a shopper, you need to be even more discerning and cautious. It’s easy to make things look good in a picture! As a seller, you can try whatever you want though. Things are often put up for sale that wouldn’t be good enough for a consignment sale or Mommy Market, but they’re still valuable. This is a great way to procure extra toys for a grandparent’s house, for example.
Obtaining the items will vary by situation. Sellers and buyers have to work out the when and were for pick-up. You don’t know exactly who you’re selling to either. Depending on the item, it’s advisable to meet in a safe public space such as a police station. But if it’s something like a crib and you can’t haul it across town on your own, you may need to meet at home.
Pros: Great for when you don’t have much to sell. For example, I’ve found completely unopened boxes of diapers at home. I can’t return it because I don’t remember where I bought it. So, sell it on a yard sale! It’s great when you only have few things to get rid of and wouldn’t cover your up-front costs of a consignment sale or Mommy Market. You can also work on your own timeline here. Post something when you’re ready to – not because sale date is approaching.
Cons: It can be annoying. Your phone will light up with tons of people interested. You contact them only to have them back out, try for a lower price, or simply fail to respond. Expect haggling. While you may want $20 for an item, prepare yourself to get less or fail to sell. Privacy and safety can be a concern too in terms of the sale transaction too. It could be concerning to give someone your home address when you’re alone with your children, for example. So participating in a consignment sale or Mommy Market is a safer alternative.
Traditional Yard Sale
It’s always an option! There’s no harm in liquidating all the stuff in the house and adding kid things into the mix.
Pros: You name your prices and keep it all! Absolutely no restraints what you can and cannot sell. Total control.
Cons: Smaller customer base that may lack interest in kids items. You’ll be limited to who you can attract on your own. I’ve seen many people take pictures of their items in advance and advertise their upcoming yard sale in a Facebook group. It’s a nice way to attract a potential customer (but be prepared for pricing requests and individual sales before your date if you have highly desirable items). A bad weather day can ruin your plans and you’re left with all the stuff. And be prepared for lots of haggling.
Online Sale Apps and Websites
They do exist! I’ve only begun exploring these. From what I can see, it functions just like a consignment shop with an online warehouse. However, there’s additional costs involved with shipping that you won’t get with more local efforts.
Pros: Can be great if you have really high-quality, designer items that the “bargainer” market at other sales won’t want to spend on. You’ll have a more diverse customer market here.
Cons: Extra costs can be prohibitive. There’s also uncertainty if your items will be accepted for sale.
From one parent to another: I can’t overstate the feeling of peace that comes with decluttering while knowing you made some money along the way. Have no fear: the peace won’t last long 😊, but it’s good while you have it.
Even if you’re not ready to dive into selling your stuff, consider shopping in these ways too. Ironically, I’ve found that my kids often love the stuff I got cheaply the best! (Figures, right?).
Hopefully this guide helps get you started! Happy cleaning and happy shopping!