Consignment sales have higher prices than you’ll find at yard sales, but they can be a great source for hard-to-find items. Here are my tips for getting the best deals at consignment sales:
Make a list of everything you need before you go (include sizes, colors, etc). Then, decide which items are most important, and shop for them first. I find lots of great clothes at thrift stores and yard sales, but good quality shoes are harder to find, so I make the shoe section my first stop when I’m at a consignment sale.
Think ahead. It may seem weird to shop for Halloween costumes and holiday dresses in August, but if you can just get in the habit of buying ahead, you’ll save a ton.
Its often in the 90s when I hit the fall consignment sales, but I still shop for winter coats, boots, snowsuits, tights, Halloween costumes, holiday dresses, holiday shirts, holiday movies and toys and books that would make good Christmas presents.
And I may be wearing winter clothes when I hit the spring consignment sales, but that doesn’t stop me from looking for Easter dresses, sandals, flip flops and swimwear.
Shop on half-off day. Most consignment sales do a half-off sale on the last day. It’s a great time to snag bargains. I’ve gotten name-brand winter coats for just a couple bucks and brand new shoes for as little as $1.50.
Just know that not all items will get marked down. Consignors can opt out of the half-off sale by putting a red dot on the tag. So, if you see items with a dot that you want (and they’re reasonably priced), go ahead and grab them; they won’t get any cheaper.
And be careful not to let those red dots trick you into assuming that certain items are more desirable than any others. Be your own judge of quality and value.
Prices vary, so take time to dig. At a yard sale you have one person (or at most a handful of people pricing items), at a consignment sale you may have hundreds, and that means prices are going to be all over the place. Spend some time sifting through the racks, and you’ll find the bargains.
Bring your own bag. Some consignment sales will provide you with a shopping bag, but it’s best to come prepared. Bring a large tote bag or laundry basket that you can toss your items into as you shop. Keeping your hands free to sift through all of the tables and racks is a must.
Come early. Consignors usually get tickets to a special pre-sale, and that’s a great opportunity to cherry-pick the good stuff. At the sale that I participate in, you only have to consign 25 items to be eligible for tickets. Totally worth the effort.
If you don’t have the time (or the desire) to consign (and you want first dibs on all the goods), arrive at least an hour before the sale starts. People will be queued up outside waiting for the sale to open, so you’ll be in good company, and you’ll also be among the first to get in.
Shop with a friend (or a team). When I hit a consignment sale, I bring my whole family along. Everyone is assigned a specific mission to ensure that we cover a lot of ground quickly (the good stuff goes fast). If your kids will be more of a distraction than a help, leave them at home.
Know your prices. Consignment sales are cheaper than retail stores, but still more expensive than thrift stores and yard sales. Set price points for each item that you buy on a regular basis – clothes, shoes, toys, etc. – then stick to it. Having limits in place will help you to tune out all of that consigment sale cuteness.