Monday, September 15, 2014

Preparing for a Consignment Sale

It seems my Facebook and inbox are flooded in the fall and spring with notices of consignment sales.  If you're not involved in these, you're likely familiar with garage sales.  Sales can be a great way to make back a marginal amount of the money you spent on your children's gear and clothing.  Here are some tips on preparing for a consignment/garage sale.

  • Find a container where you can set aside items you mean to sell.  A shopping bag, plastic garbage bag, laundry basket, anything will do, as long as it won't get confused with other items in your house, and can be shoved into a place where your children won't find it!  I tend to stick things in that spot throughout the year as we are finished with them.

  • Obviously, you want to launder or clean your items as well as possible before trying to sell them. Try to find all the parts, and keep manuals to go with larger items.  
  • If your consignment sale has rules about how to price and label items, follow it to a 'T.'  You don't want to cause unnecessary confusion in receiving your share of profits.  
  • Colored dot circles.  If you're in charge of your own garage sale or table, then labels such as these from Office Max, will do just fine.  Use a sharpie so people can see the price more clearly.  

  • Advertise.  If you're part of a large organization's consignment sale, then they probably do some advertising.  But don't leave it at that!  Get the word out among your friends, family, neighbors, and social media circles about the sale.  The more customers means the more likely you are to sell things.  

  • My local club sale suggests pricing items at 70% off retail value.  Sometimes you can get away with pricing things higher, sometimes you may need to go even lower.  If you're doing a large consignment sale, you can sometimes walk around and peruse other people's tables and prices, and gauge from there.  Start with a higher price and lower prices towards the end of the sale if you aren't selling well. 
  • Negotiate.  Many customers may enjoy haggling, so be prepared to negotiate prices.  If someone won't pay $5 per pair of pants, offer to sell two pairs for $8, for example.  You may want to have in your mind, for larger items, the price you won't go below. 

  • If you have a lot of small, related items that you think may not sell well, put them all in a zip-top plastic bag and sell as one item.  For example, I had several train set odds and ends that didn't fit my children's track system.  I put them all in a bag labeled "Train Accessories," and sold it for $5.  I've seen women sell a lot of little cars or other toys and label them as "Grab Bags." 
  •  Find your items online, and print off a page to show its value.  Circle the retail price in marker, and next to it write your price.  Tape the sheet to the item.  Customers will have a clear visual on what a deal they are getting!  (It's up to you to print off either the lowest online price you can find, knowing customers may be price-checking, the highest price you can find, or somewhere in between.)  

  • Clothing racks.  These make displaying and perusing clothing easier.  I got away without one because I sold very little clothing at my last sale.  The items I did have I put on hangers and hooked them to the edge of my table.  If you can't borrow a rack, some places rent them.  They do say that clothing that is hung up sells better.  
  • Hangers.  For the purpose of hanging, save any little children's plastic clothing hangers that you come across throughout the year.  

What to bring:
  • Folding chair.  You don't want to be sitting down the whole time, and looking like you don't care, but you will get tired eventually.  
  • Food, snacks, and drinks.  If the sale starts early, I like to treat myself to a drive through for coffee and breakfast, and eat it on the way or while setting up the sale.  
  • Change!  If you're in charge of your own table, you'll have to make your own change.  Bring plenty of one dollar bills, and a handful of larger bills.  If you price your items only in dollar increments, rather than in 25-cent increments, you won't have to worry about having quarters for change.  However, it's up to you on what you want to deal with.  Some items may not even seem to be worth a dollar, in which case go ahead and price it lower, and bring coins for change. 
  • Wagon or stroller.  Some larger sales have rolling carts to bring things in from the cars.  If not, think about how you're going to unload your vehicle and carry everything into the sale venue!   
  • Table cloth.  A suggestion from a member of my multiples club, this helps to brighten up your table and draws attention.  It can be any color or fabric, even a cheap plastic table cloth from the party supply section of stores can work.  

Have fun!
  • Remember, if you don't sell everything, that's okay!  There are plenty of worthy organizations to which you can donate, or you can keep things to try at another sale.  Or, you can post your items to sell online.  Lots of options!  
  • Be engaging.  I smile, say hello or good morning to everyone who approaches my table or who even walks by.  I ask what they're looking for, the ages of their children, anything to get them talking to stay longer and take a closer look at my items.  This way I can also point out more effectively what might interest them.  Talk up your items and how useful they were to you!  
  • Have a buddy.  If you're in charge of manning your own table, try to be next to someone you know, or enlist a friend to set up a table of her own next to you.  That way you'll have someone to chat with when things are slow.  You can also take turns watching over each other's tables, while the other person takes bathroom breaks or does their own shopping.  
This is from   I confess that my last sale was a total wash, since I bought about the same amount that I sold!

Happy selling!  (And shopping...)

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