*and 6 tips to survive shopping with your spouse at the consignment sale*
Can you smell it in the air?? Consignment shopping season is here!! And the Just Between Friends sales will start popping up in my area – three times over!!!!!
In case you haven’t heard or read, we are complete JBF consignment shopping fanatics. (See our blog post about how JBF saved our Christmas) We have been stalking the JBF franchise website, following the local sales Facebook pages, and counting down the days to the sale. Even the kids are excited that “THE sale” is finally here!!
Does consignment shopping really save you money?? You bet! We just got home from Lee’s Summit JBF sale and here is our break down:
Actually Spent: $85.50
(for 17 outfits, 1 wall hanging, 3 pairs of shoes, and 7 toy cars)
Grant Total of Money Savings: $229.78
This means we only paid 28 percent of the actual retail price! Eeekk!! Bob Barker eat your heart out because THIS is where you come on down for the price is right!
While waiting in line to check-out, a first-time shopper behind me asked me how do I shop these sales without getting overwhelmed? I believe it all comes down to your expectations AND being prepared!
Below are my own personal tips for how you be prepared and maximize your shopping trip experience at the next kids and maternity consignment sale near you:
- Become a fan of their facebook pages and/or twitter feeds. You will be the first to learn about upcoming sales, contests, recent recalls, as well as post your own questions.
- Sign-up to volunteer at the sale. In exchange for volunteers to work a short-shift as a cashier, item sorter, or greeter, JBF allows volunteers to shop the sale before the general public gets in. And the more hours you commit, the earlier you can shop which means less competition for first-pick of those great deals! Does this really matter? YES! I once watched a stack of mile high crib mattresses become depleted before the sale actually opened to the public.
- Make a list of all of the items you know you will need this upcoming year. Be sure to strike those areas first before you start browsing so you don’t miss out!
- Note the holidays and special events that will fall between the dates of the semi-annual sales. Between the spring and fall sale this year I will have St. Patty’s, Easter, 4th of July and two birthdays. So toys and clothes for those events will be at the top of my list for the next JBF sale (Overland Park JBF sale starting February 27th and Northland JBF sale starting March 8th).
- Unless you are a bodybuilder with super upper-body strength, bring a rolling bag, wagon, or empty stroller to act as your shopping cart. It is amazing how heavy and awkward it can get trying to carry everything.
- Use your phone to conduct online searches of brands and retail prices in case you have any questions or doubt if the price set by the seller is really a deal for you.
- Give yourself plenty of time to shop. While the JBF volunteers do a great job sorting and organizing the sale items, it will still take time for you to cover all areas. I tend to spend about an hour browsing just the clothing racks alone in two different sizes for each child.
- Pair up with another family to take turns watching the kids while the other volunteers and shops. For the most part kids are allowed at the sale but they can be a distraction to you, especially once they see the magical toy section
- Pack a bottle of water. Consignment shopping is a well-planned marathon, not a sprint. Stay dehydrated!
- Wear comfortable shoes. Cannot underscore this enough! At my second sale I actually bought shoes for myself at the sale to wear while the heeled boots were abandoned. (Yes, my feet are that small.)
- Shop the big items first before tackling the clothes racks. There are miles and miles of clothing racks but typically a limited supply of the popular electronics, toys, and baby furniture. Immediately take big items to holding area for a sold sticker to pick up when you get to the registrar.
- Keep an open mind and open eyes for you never know what treasurers you will find. In the room décor section, I snapped up a baseball wall hanging as a birthday gift for my father-in-law (the minor league’s baseball biggest fan!)
- Find a quiet corner to inspect all of the items. While JBF volunteer inspector’s review each item before it goes on the floor, sometimes a stain or tear can be missed. Plus this also gives you the chance to decide do you really need 12 pairs of jeans? BUT always put your rejected items on the return rack so another shopper can snap the great deal and the consignor doesn’t lose out on the sale.
- Know thy budget and add up the sale prices. This will save you the shock at the registrar. Last I checked, they didn’t carry smelling salts.
- Don’t be scared of the check-out line. Sure it may look long but the sales have multiple registrars with speedy scanners and they keep you moving!
- If you have questions or concerns about an item, return to the sale immediately or send an email. Know that sales times are usually all-hands-on-deck for the owner and volunteers so it may take a little bit to respond to your Facebook post or email.
- Always come back for the ½ price sale day, which is also the last day of the sale. At JBF, items without a “star” symbol on the tag means the seller opted-in the ½ sale and let you reap even more savings!! And if you volunteered, you will get to participate in the ½ price sale before the general public once again!
Mayday!! Mayday!! I’m drowning (happily) in savings!!!
This might come as a bit of a shock, but the consignment sale shopping is my wife’s thing. You should see her stretching out the night before, organizing her lists on what to buy, mapping out the details of the showroom floor, practicing her dart-and-spin moves for the crowds, and asking over and over again what her spending limit is.
Of course, I kid, but she has saved our collective butts a few times with the deals she has gotten. The kids are none the wiser that their favorite scooter they play with outside or the stylish clothes that they wear to school used to belong to someone else. These items are new to them, and that’s enough.
My excitement over the upcoming sales is around the items around the house that we sell. From clothes that are out-grown to toys that are no longer played with (think teary-eyed ending of Toy Story 3) to bikes, we’ve sold our way to $300+ many times over. There is a whole thought process around this that we will get to, but the science is simple…scrub until it looks like new and price on the lower end.
But, my part of this blog is to give tips on how to live with the “Diane”s of the world that think consignment sale shopping is their own personal Olympic event.
- Expect the excitement. It always surprises me when I see the countdown clock come out on when the sale starts. The pupils get dilated, hands are trembling, light Lamaze breathing…these are not the signs of a medical condition, but just the growing excitement over the wonderful items she hopes to buy.
- Feign excitement on your part. Yes, I am sure there is something on Netflix or a sporting event or some project around the house that you need to be doing other than cross-checking a list of needed items with a drawn map of the layout of the sale. But, take it from me, if you don’t come across as excited, it will turn into a looooong weekend for you. It’s way easier to fake the excitement now than deal with the consequences later.
- Be prepared. There have been at least two times Diane has called me to request a second vehicle to bring her sale booty home. One time, She bought a full outdoor jungle gym (retails $200 in a store) for $35 before realizing there was no physical way to get it into the mini-van. This is a good opportunity to come across as a hero to her rescue, rather than grumbling all of the way there that you should be taking a nap or mowing the lawn. It’s all in the attitude as you approach, and that makes you the hero or the jackass.
- Be positive. It goes a long way if you can get the kids excited by their “new” stuff. If you show excitement about how cool these toys and clothes are, they will too. It makes the whole process a lot better in the long run.
- Do the math. While the given budget may be $200 or so, Diane will maximize that as much as possible. In our position, that money could be used in a lot of different places, like paying down debt. This is a tip for both of you, because it is essential to sit down and go thru the list of what retail was on the item and what you paid for it. That’s when you realize the almost $500 of savings represents that the clothes and toys for the next six months are taken care of. Keep the big picture in perspective.
- Be a team. Like most American families, we are going 100 mph and usually in different directions. Diane and I approach these as not only a good deal on items, but something we do together. In a time when it’s hard to find the family time, taking on these sales (and winning!) is a great time to work and spend time together. There have been many of late-night laughs as we cleaned-up our items for the sale or gone thru the sales bounty.
That’s all I have. When it comes to the article on how to identify, prep and price the items for you to sell, that will be all me. I prefer the opposite of the coin which is making the money. Of course, keeping the big picture, I am hoping to make enough money to cover what Diane spends at the sales. Our goal is to make money, but we are both pleased when we break even also with the checkbook.
Are there any tips or ideas you would like to share about shopping at consignment sales? Or are you looking to shop at your first one and still have questions?