Blog

Children’s Consignment Sales

A great way to make a ton of cash on your gently used kids items is to consign them at a bi-annual consignment sale. Most metropolitan areas have at least one of these types of sales these days. My go-to local sale is Charleston Repeats. It is an awesome venue to consign your kids’ things and find great deals on clothes, toys, and gear.

Their sale is actually going on now, so I recently cleaned out and purged all things unused and outgrown! I usually begin the process about a month prior to the sale by having the kids try on all of their spring/summer or fall/winter clothes. This is not typically a whole lot of fun, but I use incentives like telling them that I will get them new stuff at the sale, and that seems to work. This is no lie either! I basically trade in my kids’ outgrown stuff for stuff that we need! I seldom spend any money because the profit I make from selling covers the amount I spend on the new stuff!

Pricing is crucial to successful selling. Here are some tips:

  1. Beware of overpricing. Don’t listen to your sentimental self. If you are still attached to that onesie that Junior wore when he said his first word, save it and move on to something less emotional.
  2.  Bundle. If you have a whole bunch of little things, consider putting them all in a bag or on a hanger and price as a lot.
  3. Think 30. Most things should be priced around 30% of retail. Less than that for lower quality brands or condition.

As mentioned in my post about women’s consignment sales, the secret to getting the best deals and the best return is volunteering! I cannot overstate this. Between typically getting a portion of your consigner fee back, and getting to shop early, this makes volunteering so worth it! I have been consigning at kids sales since my oldest was really small, and I still feel like a kid on Christmas morning when I find the great deals!

 

Consigning Women’s Clothing

It is always a good idea to go through your closet each season to weed out those things that you want to love but that just don’t quite do it for you, things that don’t fit, and the like. What can I do with this apparel that has been evicted from my closet, you ask?

I have found that I can make a decent profit on the items that I sell at our local bi-annual consignment sale as opposed to consigning at a brick and mortar consignment store.

First, I can set my own prices. There are typically two ways a brick and mortar consignment store works: You drop off your stuff and they price it for you, then you either pick it up or allow the store to donate it if it doesn’t sell. At others, they pay you a flat amount up front that you can take or leave. At a bi-annual consignment sale, you can price your own things.

Second, because I get a higher percentage back on the things that sell. At the sale in my area, I can get 65-75% of sales, whereas most brick and mortar stores typically give around 50%.

My  go-to sale is called the Charleston Style Exchange. People come from all over the city to consign their gently used women’s clothing and find great deals on name brand, high end clothes, shoes, and accessories at this sale, which has been held in Mt. Pleasant, SC for several years. The next sale is coming up soon, so I am in the process of cleaning out my closet. I find that pricing is key to selling the most things with the best return. Here are a few pricing tips:
Think of what you would pay. How much would you reasonably pay for the item if you were to come across it at the sale?
Brand. Of course, the higher end the brand, the higher percentage of the original price you can ask.                                                                                                                                                                     Demand. If you are consigning clothing at an upscale sale in the first place, you are likely to be aware of the brands and fashions that are most in demand in your area. You can get away with asking a little more for these items, but beware of price gouging. That just ticks people off and you will be collecting your unsold items at the end of the sale.                                                                                                                                                              How much effort are you willing to put forth? Presentation is everything. Neatly display your cleaned and pressed items. Wrinkly, disheveled looking items will not sell, and will likely be pulled from the sales floor anyway.
Finally, allow me to let you in on the secret to getting the best deals AND the best return. Volunteering! This is key. Not only do most sales give a portion of your consigner fee back when you volunteer, but you typically also get to shop early and beat everyone else to the best deals! Volunteer shifts are usually short increments of time, so it is pretty easy to schedule around your other obligations.

There is also typically a half price aspect to the sales, in which the last day or part of that day allows those who choose to discount the chance to sell their goods for half off. This is always the way to go in my opinion. AND at the end of the sale, you certainly don’t want all that stuff back, so you have the choice to donate it straight from the sale!

I love consignment sales- you can’t beat a great find, and you can rationalize your purchases with the fact that you are basically trading your old stuff for new if you are also consigning!

 

Pricing Your Items to Sell

Pricing your items is a tricky business. Price it too high and no one will buy it. Price it too low and you are leaving cash on the table. Here are 7 ways to get your best selling price:

  1. Do your research. Make sure you aren’t selling yourself short and check to see what other similar items have sold for recently. Search by keyword in Facebook groups screen-shot-2017-02-08-at-11-59-47-pm                                                                                     or check on Ebay. Be sure to check “sold listings” rather than items currently for sale  to find out what the item actually sold for instead of what people hoped to get.screen-shot-2017-02-08-at-9-16-36-pm
  2. Don’t be sentimental. It’s natural to charge more for items to which you are emotionally attached. The usual culprits are baby clothes and other children’s items. Try not to fall into the emotional tagging trap. Keep the most precious pieces and detach yourself from the rest.
  3. Don’t dwell on what you paid for it new. As a rule of thumb, you should price approximately 30% of retail price. Ask a little more for new items and less for used.
  4. What would you pay for it? Step back before you price the item and think of what the highest price is that you would pay for it.
  5. Clean it up! Would you be excited about buying a dirty old spider web covered piece of play equipment for your child? Me neither. Take a couple of minutes to wipe it down and sell it for $30 instead of settling for $15.
  6. Account for shipping, if applicable. If you are selling in a group with members from all over the country, you will likely have to ship to the buyer. Most of these groups require you to post the price including shipping. This will require a little figuring on your part in order to not lose out. Go to USPS postage calculator and enter the weight of your package to find out the price of shipping to the farthest place away from you. Then determine the price you would reasonably accept for the item and add that to the shipping price.
  7. Don’t waste your time trying to sell things no one wants. Face it, There are just some things that need to be given or thrown away. Post things for free and someone may buy some of your sale items that they would not have driven there for unless they were getting the free item.

It’s your job to make the buyer  feel good about what they are paying without feeling like you are giving your stuff away. The above tips will help you find a good balance! Stay tuned for more selling tips!

Facebook Group Selling- Starting Out

So you are in a Facebook selling group… now what? Once you have found the group of your dreams, it’s time to jump in with both feet and start selling the heck out of all that stuff that has been taking up space in your garage, right? Not yet… patience young grasshopper…

As mentioned in my last post, DO: Read all of the rules first. All groups are different and have different rules. DON’T: enter a group and immediately post 40 things in one day. You will likely be removed from the group, or at least chastised by administrators.

Sit back and relax. Enjoy the show for a bit before jumping in. Interact with others on informational posts. If you see something you want, buy it. Notice the tone of the group. How do the members interact? Is it a welcoming group, or a hostile environment? Do people support each other or pick fights? Is admin noticeably absent or do they constantly post nasty grams? Is the feed dominated by spam or is it a good mix of sale items? If the group seems negative, you might want to look for other groups before getting too involved.

Start by posting a couple of things to test the water. It is best to post things that are clean, in season, and desirable. Don’t start out with the old 1985 floral print that you were going to drop at Goodwill but wanted to see if you could get a couple of bucks out of. Save that for the garage sale, or better yet, just go ahead and take it to Goodwill.

If your items do not sell at first, don’t get discouraged. In very large or popular groups, things get pushed down the feed fast, so your item may not have even been seen by many people. Following the rules of the group, bump your post after 24 hours or so. (“Bumping” is simply making your post go back to the top of the feed again so it will be seen again without having to scroll and scroll down the feed). In order to bump, just type anything in the comment section below your post (some type “bump” others put a smiley face, emoji, or just a “.”) Don’t bump your post more than once or twice or it will look like you’re desperate. It is better to just wait a week, then try again.

My next post will tell you the best way to post so that you get the most cash out of your items!

 

Facebook Sale Groups: How to Find the Right Group For You

The first key to successful selling in Facebook groups is finding a group that is a good fit for you. Each group has different administrators, members, rules, and a different vibe. Here are some hints to set you up for success by finding a group that you feel comfortable in:

  1. Check with your friends and find out which groups they are members of. It’s always less awkward going to a party with a friend than showing up to a room of strangers, right? It is also easier to feel accepted in a Facebook group where you already know someone. In addition, many groups require that you are added by a friend as opposed to you requesting to be added yourself. These are usually the more close knit groups that you will want to be a member of anyway.
  2. Understand the different Facebook group settings. Groups can be Public, Closed, or Secret. Public groups are just that. Anyone can find them, become a member, see its members and their posts. Like public groups. anyone can find closed groups and see who is in them, but only members can see the posts. In some groups, becoming a member requires approval by administrators after a request to join by either the prospective member or a friend who is already a member of the group. In other groups, any member can approve a request to join or add members.Secret groups are not searchable by anyone other than members. They offer the highest privacy level. The only way to join one of these groups is to be added by a friend who is already a member, and then an admin may also need to approve the membership, depending on the group settings.
  3. Search for groups in your geographical area. In order to do this, go to the left hand side of your home page, click “buy and sell groups” under “Explore”… You will be taken to a map which shows all of the open groups in your area. screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-11-45-59-am
  4. Search for groups specific to your niche. There are tons of groups out there- from Lilly Pulitzer Buy/Sell groups to Milk glass sale groups! Keep in mind that unless they are exclusive to your area, most of these ultra specific groups have members from all over, and items will need to be shipped to buyers.
  5. Once you are in a group, FIRST read the rules! This is a fatal error for many folks and they get kicked out of the group for breaking the rules the first time they post.
  6. Hang out for a while and observe before interacting. I know you want to get that chair/pile of clothes/lawn mower out of your house like– yesterday, but resist the temptation to barge in there and post all of your stuff the minute you see the message that you have been accepted to your new group! Watch the feed and get an idea of the group’s vibe first, then start posting gradually.

Check back soon for more super powered selling tips in my next post!

 

The Beginning

Welcome to herding cats blog!

Never in a million years would I have imagined that I would be writing a blog- much less, a blog about buying and selling used stuff!

Growing up, I would not have ever considered buying second hand items of any description. No garage sales, or swap meets for me! Then I left home for college and had to use my own money. At that point, working in a flower shop in California was not adequate to sustain my Nordstrom taste. A friend introduced me to the local swap meet. I had never seen such a thing before, and it intrigued me. I also began frequenting garage sales, and collected an eclectic variety of necessities to pretty up my digs. I ended up furnishing my rented apartment with a majority of things that were previously used… and it actually looked pretty darn classy! I was on to something.

Years later, when I got married and we bought our home, my husband and I struggled to work with our “inherited” furnishings- many of the pieces were expensive and classic, but very heavy and big for our small starter home. I felt like we were living in a storage facility. We had to get rid of some of the furniture so I decided to consign it. It sold, but we got so little in return, I was disappointed.

Once we had our first child, I joined our local Moms Club and discovered the biannual Mom to Mom sale. As a first time mom, I was initially repulsed by the idea of used baby items for my precious little bundle of joy, but I soon found that everything (ok, nearly everything) can be cleaned or washed and there are a ton of things that have never even been used! I loved the sale so much that I volunteered to be on the sale board and eventually ran the sale as a chair. By kid #2, I really needed to get rid of outgrown and unneeded stuff more than twice a year at the sale. A dear friend had moved to Tennessee and I noticed a group she was in on Facebook, where people took pictures of their stuff and sold it to other members of the group who lived in the area. I thought “why can’t we have this here where we live?” Then we could sell stuff as it is grown out of and not have to store it for 6 months for the next sale. So I decided to start a group myself…

I founded the Mt. Pleasant Mommy Exchange about 7 years ago, starting with 10 or so of my closest mommy friends from the Moms Club and have grown the group to over 3,000 moms. I have no desire to be an impersonal and creepy sale group of 10,000+ members. I care about quality over quantity. Beyond being a group to sell things, it is a community in which its members truly care for one and other. I personally vet each member profile prior to allowing her in the group, and she must be friends with at least one person who is already in the group. Of course there is no way to be completely safe, but I feel that this cuts down on members who could present a threat to our members. You never can be too careful.

Check back soon for more posts. I plan to talk about how I have made literally hundreds of dollars just by getting rid of stuff I don’t need, and rarely buy anything new!