Heading to a Consignment Event? Here are 5 Tips to Make the Most of it

Heading to a Consignment Event? Here are 5 Tips to Make the Most of it
Image: NCCC
January 7, 2016

After the holidays, shopping may be the last thing on your mind. But if you're looking to score some great finds for your kids, a consignment event might be right up your alley.

Spring is typically yard sale season, but consignment events are held all year round. Some are large-scale events -- like the Kids Exchange event held in Raleigh twice a year – while smaller events are put on by religious groups, social clubs, and other organizations.

Unlike yard sales or flea markets, consignment events are run by a particular group or business that provide a space for vendors to sell their wares. The event organizers make a commission on the items that are sold, or charge the seller a flat fee to cover their costs.

Keep reading for some tips on how you can make the most out of these events.

Shop Early or Late

Most events, small and large, have a day in which sellers, volunteers and staff can do their shopping. This is usually a day or two before opening to the general public. Shopping early allows you to score the best items. If you've been looking for a reason to get rid of some gently used children's items, this is a good opportunity. Even if those old clothes and baby furniture don't sell, you still got a chance to shop free from the crowds. You can also look into working or volunteering at the event, which could provide you with similar perks.

If you don't have anything to sell or can't volunteer the time, you could try shopping late. The downside of shopping late is that you'll get everything other buyers left behind, leaving your options limited. But, typically, the last day of an event offers steep discounts to get stuff out the door. If you aren't picky, this a great opportunity to save.

Have a Plan and Budget

Large consignment events can include hundreds of vendors, which amounts to tens of thousands of individual items. It can be overwhelming to say the least. Before going, take a look at what your children need, including the sizes of any clothing, and make a list. Once your list is made, create a budget. It's easy to go overboard. Some consignment events are cash only, while others charge a fee for credit cards. Check with the event organizers for any fees you should take into consideration.

Beware of the Recalls

Since event organizers are not the ones actually selling the items, just providing a venue, they aren't responsible checking to see if a product has been recalled. It's illegal to sell a recalled item and it's generally the responsibility of the seller to be sure that the product hasn't been recalled. If you're looking for specific types of products, take a look at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website to familiarize yourself with recalled brands and models so you can spot them before you head to the checkout line. Recalls.gov also has a smartphone application for Android users.

Similarly, give products a good thorough look to make they aren't broken, have holes, missing pieces, or any other signs of poor quality.

Expect a Long Day

A consignment event is like a large yard sale. There's some order and organization, but don't expect it to be a trip to Target where everything is neatly displayed. In some cases it can be truly organized chaos. It takes time to sift through all of that so bring your patience, a bottle of water, and maybe even a snack. The lines can also be especially long as staff and volunteers work through each item to ensure the seller gets credit. Unless they must absolutely come along, it's best to keep your children at home.

BYOSC (Bring Your Own Shopping Cart)

Unlike a trip to a traditional retail store, consignment events may not offer shopping carts, bags or any other way to carry your items. If you don't happen to have a shopping cart laying around the house, think outside the box: a stroller, your kid's little red wagon, and large reusable grocery bags can all be used to tote items. If you are looking for larger items, like furniture, check with the event organizers to find out if they have a way to hold these types of items without having to worry about dragging them around.