Five years ago, I discovered the world of kids' consignment sales. Little did I know what I was in for, including very long lines to get into the sale, tons of items, crying kids, plus long lines to get through the checkout line. It's like going to a Six Flags amusement park in the middle of the summer.
So why would you want to shop at a kids' consignment sale knowing that you are going to go through all that? The answer is simple: savings.
As a parent, you quickly realize that buying kids' items at retail prices does not make financial sense, especially if you're only going to use it a dozen or so times. So all that waiting in line, dealing with cries and planting yourself in the middle of chaos is all worth it at the end of the day when you save up to 75 percent off on items you really need.
Since I've shopped at a few kids' consignment sales over the years, I have some tips that will alleviate all the aforementioned challenges:
Leave your kids at home. Remember, I told you about the crying kids? Do you know why they are crying? Not because they are sick or because they want to go home, but because they want all the items at the sale. It's normal. You can't expect a kid to sit nicely in a stroller when they see boxes and boxes of LEGOs or princess play sets displayed right in front of them. You can get a couple of moms who want to take advantage of the sale and trade babysitting duties. Most sales are usually Thursday through Sunday, so there's plenty of time to score some deals.
Pick and choose your days. Thursday is going to be your busiest days with stay-at-home moms ready and hungry to raid the sale. Since it's the opening of the sale, you will have first dibs at getting items that you want, but you have to determine if it's worth the trouble. From my experience, I never go on opening day. The best day to go is the day after, which is Friday. When you go on Friday, you still have a huge selection of items and there are a lot less people, which means you can freely walk from section to section. Saturday is also another crazy day since most people are off for the weekend. If you're looking for the best price, you can wait until Sunday. They usually reduce an extra 50 percent off prices to get rid of anything that's leftover before they close shop.
Create your shopping list. I know you probably want to casually stroll in and buy what you need, but with all the chaos (trust me), you'll lose any thought process you had. If you have a list, you can use it as a guide to take you from section to section. It will help you keep on track when you have moms running into you or kids crying their heads off as you try to figure out what you have to get.
Know your price. If you don't know your prices, you really aren't maximizing your savings. Recently, I went to a kids' consignment sale near my home. Many of the items are priced to go, up to 70 percent off, but some items were priced ridiculously high. I saw a puzzle that retailed for $20 and it sold at the consignment for $15. I'm sorry, but that's not a good enough deal when you can get that same item on Amazon for $13 with free shipping and you don't have to deal with all the chaos. As you go through each item, look at the condition and even go as far as looking those items up on Amazon (from your smartphone) to see if you're getting a great deal.
Take a buddy or buddies. This is where your list comes even handier. If you get a couple of moms or dads to join, you can combine the list and assign each person to a section. Not only does this save time, but it keeps you completely focused on one area, which helps alleviate all the stress of trying to make it from one aisle to another.
Susan Yoo-Lee is the editor of Savings.com personal finance blog and founder of Mommas in the House blog.
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