If you don’t like to wait for sales and dig through clearance racks, shopping kid’s consignment stores is perfect for getting your kids clothes at a great price.
Most of my kid’s clothes come from our local consignment store, Once Upon a Child. But I’ve also shopped other consignment stores, and these tips will help no matter where you shop.
Walking into a kid’s consignment store can feel overwhelming because there are just so many choices and the stores often pack them FULL of clothes from floor to ceiling.
The first few times I shopped consignment, I almost didn’t do it again. However, I then saw the prices on kids’ clothes at regular retail price and decided to give consignment shopping another try before I went broke. 🙂
Over the years, I feel like I’ve become a pro at shopping consignment stores and have a system down. So today, I’m sharing my best tips with you!
1. Make a list and check it twice
When you enter a kid’s consignment store, it can feel like the choices are endless! It’s easy to get side tracked and find a bunch of random pieces that you may not actually need.
To help you focus on the pieces of clothing that your kids need, make a list of what to look for before you enter the store.
Most consignment stores are divided into sizes and often the clothes are arranged according to color which is super helpful. If you have a list, you’ll know exactly where you need to look on the clothes racks and not get side tracked by all the other stuff.
For example, let’s say you need a white button up dress shirt for your son who wears size 3T. It’s on your list so you know EXACTLY what to look for. You can go straight to the white long sleeve shirts and avoid looking through every. single. shirt.
Make sure you read the last post How to Build a Kid’s Wardrobe for helpful tips on creating your list.
2. Know your standard price and quality
Let’s go back to the example from number one….
You are sticking to your list and looking for a size 3T white button up shirt in the boy’s section. But you see five shirts that meet that qualification. How do you decide which one to get?
Now you need to decide if they also meet you your standard price and quality.
Most of the time, consignment stores are picky about the quality of clothes they resell, but sometimes they do sell clothes that are well worn. I’ve even seen some with very small stains.
It just depends on the person that processes the clothes.
Personally, I do not purchase clothes that are super faded and worn. I like the article of clothing to look as close to new as possible. So decide before hand what your standard of quality is.
The prices at kid’s consignment stores vary greatly as well.
For example a white button up shirt with a GAP tag is probably going to cost you twice as much as a Faded Glory or Cat and Jack white button up shirt. If you really want a GAP shirt, you are still going to get a great deal, but you are going to pay extra for the brand.
Before you go to the consignment store, look at the stores you often get your kids’ clothes from and get an idea of the prices for brand new clothes. I like shopping Walmart and Target for my kids’ clothes, so if the only shirt at the consignment store is the same price as a brand new shirt at Walmart or Target, then I pass and just buy the brand new shirt.
3. Know what the size looks like
If you have been dressing kids for any length of time, you know that sizes can vary depending on the brand or even type of clothing. A 3 month Carter* onsie may fit your 3 month old while a 3 month Garanimals* onsie may be too small.
It all depends.
Since consignment stores carry all kinds of brands and the clothes have probably been washed and dried a time or two, the actual size is going to vary. Sometimes by a lot!
That’s why it’s important to have a standard for your kid’s clothes size. If you have a 3 month onsie that you know fits, bring that with you and hold up the onesies you are considering to see how close it is in size. You may be amazed at the difference!
I do this all the time!
Recently, I had picked out about 7 shirts for my son while at Once Upon a Child. Before purchasing them, I held them all together and looked at the length. There were 3 shirts that were definitely shorter than the others, so they went back on the racks.
4. Shop without kids if possible, otherwise…
Most consignment stores are FULL of clothes, and you just gotta dig! Dig. through. it. all.
If you have kids with you, that can be a test in your patience for sure!
I love when I’m able to shop by myself (even when it’s not consignment), but that isn’t always possible. Here are my tips for making it a little easier.
–Tell your kids ahead of time what you expect of them.
–Bring snacks, snacks, and snacks. And a drink.
– Only shop for one child or a limited amount of clothes, and come back later for the rest.
–Start with happy kids. = Don’t go during nap or lunch time. ( I know from experience!)
–Allow them to play with one toy while you shop. (This is probably a sin to some people, but I let my son pick one toy from the toy section to hold while we shop. That way he isn’t wanting to play with ALL the toys. The ladies at my consignment store don’t mind as long as we put the toy back when we are done.)
– Reward them for behaving after you are done shopping. Or at least make a big deal about how good they were!
Whenever I get to the cash register and hear my total, it always amazes me how much I saved! Last time I shopped consignment I purchased 4 shirts for my son and 2 dresses for my daughter. My total was $21. I would have easily spent that on 2 shirts if I had paid retail.
Shopping consignment is a pain at times, but in the end it is absolutely worth it for my family. I hope it is for you too!
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