5 Tips for Consigning Your Kids’ Clothes (and Making Cold, Hard Cash)

posted: 09/08/15
by: Blythe Copeland
Baby clothes

If you're not sentimental about those boxes, bins, and bags of baby clothes sitting in your attic or basement, then you just might be looking at a gold mine: By selling clothes, gear, and toys your kids have outgrown, you can make hundreds of dollars -- or more -- each year. Start with these five dos and don'ts for selling secondhand and see how you can turn those old outfits into cash today.

1. DO: Think about selling when you're buying

Making money on the resale of your kids' clothes starts long before they outgrow them: To really bring in the big bucks, you should be considering consignment even as you're purchasing new outfits. Shop during sales on higher end brands -- Carter's, Gymboree, Crewcuts, Baby Gap, The Children's Place -- since these clothes are likely to hold up better to kids' wear and tear and bring in more cash at sales and consignment shops. The way you care for your kids' clothing matters, too: Of course you can't avoid stains and rips on clothes for little ones, but following washing instructions, treating stains, and keeping clothes in the best condition possible will let you sell them for more. And leave the tags on any gifts or purchases until you're sure your child will like and wear the item: Pieces with the tags still attached go for a higher price, so if you miss the return deadline, you have a better chance of selling with the labels on.

2. DON'T: Wait until the sale is announced to sort and tag

Most consignment sales and stores accept pieces by season, taking new items two or four times a year. Waiting until sale time comes around, though, can leave you scrambling to go through boxes and bins of clothes, trying to price and tag items at the last minute. Instead, decide what you're going to keep, sell, or give away as your children outgrow each item. Set aside your consignment-bound clothes in a dedicated spot -- hanging them is ideal, if you have an extra closet, since it prevents them from getting wrinkled and means you won't be on a last-minute hunt for hangers (many consignment sales will expect you to provide your own). If you're participating in a sale where you set your own prices, keep a running list of the item, size, and price so that when it's time to make your tags you can work from the list instead of from a pile of clothes.

3. DO: consider selling anything and everything

If you're planning on having more kids, it can be tempting to keep those big-ticket clothing items, like snow pants, jackets, holiday dresses, and shoes: You've already invested in these, and you're waiting for a second or third child to use them. But these are the same items that, when they're in good condition, are more likely to go at a consignment sale (since everyone else is trying to save money on them, too). Some consignors sell their big items every year, assuming that the chances of having a future kid fit the same item in the same season are so slim that having the cash in hand to buy this year's snowboots or Easter dress makes more sense. One tip: Kids' styles change just like adult trends do, so holding onto clothes for more than a year or two may make them less likely to sell (though some items, like sleepers and onesies, stay pretty similar from year or year). And don't just focus on clothes: You can sell baby towels, nursery decor, carriers, diaper bags, toys, books, and anything else your kids have outgrown.

4. DON'T: Overprice

The general rule for consignment is that items will sell for 1/2 or 1/3 of what you paid for them -- you may get more (or less) depending on the brand, the condition, whether the item still has tags, and how in-demand it is. But you should also remember that moms who are shopping secondhand are likely to also be experienced at shopping the sale rack, and they'll know exactly what a piece is worth: If leggings go on sale for $4, brand new, at the beginning of the season, these buyers won't pay the same (or more) at the consignment sale. Consignment sales and stores take a portion of your profits -- usually around 30 or 40 percent -- so you won't end up with the full amount you tag on an item, but even $100 dollars back in your pocket can help offset the spending you'll need to do on this year's fall/winter wardrobe.

5. DO: research your options

Consigning clothes is different from selling them yourself in one simple way: Someone else helps you consign. This could mean dropping your items off at a store for cash on the spot, after which the store takes on the task of reselling them; it could mean leaving your items at a store for 30, 60, or 90 days and then having whatever doesn't sell returned to you; or it can mean signing up for a weekend consignment sale, where you price and tag your own items and donate or get back whatever isn't purchased. If you're not sure which is right for you, try going to a few shops or sales before you start selling. Look for one that offers higher end brands and good quality items -- these are the places that attract willing buyers -- but isn't too crowded, so that your pieces stand out. You also want a sale or store that draws big attendance; many local sales have Facebook pages listing their upcoming dates and seller info, so you can get a sense of which are the most popular. And if you'd rather cut out the middle man, try selling items on your local Facebook yard sale pages or on Craigslist. You'll get all the proceeds, but often buyers here expect super-cheap deals (think $1 or less per piece) so you may not make as much in the long run.