Tips for shopping kids consignment sales

23 November 2015

We are in a really good place with clothes for our girl. In addition to generous piles of loaners from three sisters and a friend, we have a tub of hand-me-downs from a cousin and lots of goodies from showers. But, the clothing source that I’m most excited about and with the best long-term potential is… kids consignment sales! I’ve found some amazing pieces over the last few years but know they can be intimidating, so I thought I’d share a few tips for shopping them today!


1. Opt for church consignment sales. I may be biased, because I’ve actually only shopped at sales run by churches, but I’ve found them to be uniformly well-organized, well-run, friendly, and with high quality clothing. It’s easy to find them by Googling your town + “kids consignment sale.” If you’re in the Triangle, I love my church’s sale (which runs twice a year) as well as the Hayes-Barton sale (also twice a year). If you find a sale you like, watch out for a flyer for their next dates when you check out!

2. Go on the first day, and go early. Many consignment sales run for several days, and some mark everything down by 50% on the second day. However, I’d much rather have first pick at the goods than spend a little less money, especially because everything is already so inexpensive! Also, I’d recommend showing up at least a half hour before the sale begins — the ones I frequent always have a line waiting to get in, and again, your goal is to get first crack at things.

3. If it’s an option, volunteer. Related to point number two, if you REALLY want to get a jump on things, your best chance is by volunteering! At least at my church, if you volunteer to process clothes on the drop-off days, you have the option to buy anything you like as soon as it comes in. I’ve gotten my best pieces this way! If volunteering is not an option but you’re able to consign, that might get you access to a preview sale before the general sale.

4. Don’t just shop your current size. For the last few years, I’ve been scanning the newborn to 3T racks (even though for many of those years I wasn’t even pregnant!). Especially when your kids are younger and don’t have opinions about their clothing, it’s a great idea to stockpile pieces you love as long as you have the storage space.

5. Pull, then cull. Sales can get a little crazy, so I like to pull anything that catches my eye on an initial cruise around the floor, then find a quiet corner to sort through my armful. Usually, I’ll put back at least 3/4 of what I initially pulled, if not more. (And on that note, be polite and either re-hang your discards or hand them off to a volunteer.) If you know you’ll be a super shopper, consider bringing your own bag (like an Ikea reusable bag or a Boat and Tote) to make it easier to carry things.

6. Be picky. I, and I assume most of y’all, have the luxury of not needing to buy all of my girl’s clothing from a consignment sale. So, I’m very picky about what I buy, even though the price point is so low. I only buy things I absolutely love, and only if they’re in great shape. Sometimes I’ll leave with ten items, but sometimes with just one piece! It’s definitely quality-over-quantity for me with these sales.

Most of my experience has been in local sales, but I have started to dabble in Instagram sales, as well, so wanted to give them a brief mention! I haven’t actually bought anything as I’ve always been outbid (!), but the accounts I have my eye on are @kksisters_closet and @modernminiresale. My best tip here is to look for accounts whose style you like and whose kids are a bit older than yours!

What do y’all think? Have you shopped at consignment sales or Instagram sales for your kids? Any tips you’d add? Or, my Triangle peeps, any other sales I should know about? :)

P.S. All of the pieces above are favorites I’ve purchased from local sales! The most expensive (the green plaid and red plaid) were $4, and almost everything else was $1!!

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November 23, 2015 7:46 am

Hi Emily! My mom friends RAVE about the Raleigh Kids Exchange – not only for clothes, but books, toys, etc. It’s absolutely huge and therefore can be a bit overwhelming and stressful, but there are strategies, as you mentioned! Volunteering, finding a friend with an early bird pass, etc. I believe the next one is in January! : )

November 23, 2015 9:13 am

YES! Love this… My biggest tip is facebook yard sale sites! Now, I realize not every neighborhood has these and the quality definitely differs from site to site, but I’m fortunate to live in a neighborhood with an AWESOME one. High quality pieces at super affordable price points. And you either pick stuff up at a neighbor’s house (left on their porch) or some folks even deliver to your house! That’s the best for busy mamas! Have you heard of ThredUP? It’s a high quality consignment site online (kids, maternity, and women’s clothes!) If you go to that link, you get $20 free on your first order! I’ve found great stuff for my girls on there as well and my favorite thing about that site is the search feature. You can search by brand, size, and there’s even a “new with tags” search to get brand new things! Happy shopping!

November 23, 2015 3:42 pm

Just some quick tips (I’ve learned so much from you; I’d love to pass on a few things I’ve learned in this arena):

Buy outerwear, toys, and furniture in advance (i.e. a gently-used 2T Patagonia jacket? Go for it! MagnaTiles your daughter won’t have the fine motor skills to fully appreciate for another couple of years? Absolutely), but be really, really careful with clothes. Even nice brands at great bargains can end up being a waste of money if they don’t fit your daughter. I’ve learned the hard way that boutique sets (that I would NEVER buy new!) are a bad deal for my small-boned but taller than average daughter, as the tops swallow her and the pants are an inch too short! I’ve also learned the hard way that clothes shrink with their original owners (duh), so I remember now to buy a size larger than my daughter is currently wearing (for the most part) when shopping for (pants especially) secondhand. Also, keep in mind that those Carter’s and Old Navy-type brands sell new for $5-8 per piece (ignore the MSRP, as the stores have 40% off sales so frequently that you should never be paying full price). For that reason, used play clothes and pajamas from those brands usually aren’t much of a bargain (unless your sellers are super-realistic, which is hard to find when they have had to go to the trouble of sorting, ironing, tagging, dropping off, and splitting proceeds!).

Yard sales are the best — if you find someone whose kid’s clothes work for yours, see if you can get the seller to bundle items for a crazy steal of a deal. Instagram sales and Facebook exchanges are good, too. Don’t forget Goodwill, either… we just got a beautiful Hape toy kitchen there for $6!

November 24, 2015 10:27 pm

Goodness I need to come down to NC and go shopping with you! I think having a boy has helped me stay a little bit in line with buying only necessities for our little guy and then letting some friends fill in the gaps with cute stuff but you’ve got some good skills down pat, mama! Your little babe will be so darling :)