With my first child, I happily accepted hand-me-downs, but everything else I seemed to want new – although I did buy some batches of used kids clothing on eBay. Things changed with my second: I ardently bought and sold on Craigslist, but found that shopping for clothes this way was a bit hit and miss. Nothing was worse than showing up at someone’s house and finding out that the clothes weren’t in good condition. I soon discovered that one of the most reliable ways to buy second hand is to check out credible baby consignment stores that sell baby clothes.
“People think consignment is worn out and shabby looking,” says Angie Heintz, owner of Beansprouts, an adorable kids store on Main Street that features an extensive “pre-loved” section that includes clothing, shoes, books and wooden toys. This assumption couldn’t be further from the truth since buying consignment has the added benefit of having someone review the clothes before they are accepted for sale. “So much of consignment has never been worn and is waiting for a new home.” The result: practically new clothes at terrific prices.
Here are some things to consider when buying and selling children’s clothes on consignment.
I prefer purchasing baby clothes at baby consignment shops that specialize in baby items, including used kids clothes. You can shop in these stores with confidence knowing that the items have been given a thorough once-over by the store owner or staff. “We carefully check every item we take in,” says Angie. These stores also attract moms who are wanting to unload their clothes, so these shops often have a wide selection of consignment clothes for children. Many stores have strict consignment guidelines that can further benefit the shopper. Beansprouts, for example, will only accept clothes that are fashionably current, stain-free and in-season. You might also want to check policies around accepting clothing in smoke-free or animal-free environments.
See For Yourself
I personally know the aggravation of taking a consignment item home and not realizing that one of the snaps wasn’t working. Even though you might be in a specialty store, it’s still important that you take the time to check out the item. Beansprouts endeavours to catch any issues, but no one is perfect. “We try really hard,” says Angie, “but there is always the chance that something has been overlooked.” She recommends that you check all the snaps and make sure that the zippers work. Also make sure that there are no stains. Obvious spots are of course the front of any shirts, the back and leg-holes on onesies and sleepers where there might have been a breach in the diaper. Examine pant knees and bum areas for wear. Also review the general construction of the garment to make sure that the item is well-made and in decent condition.
What To Look For
What you buy on a consignment shop really depends on what you need. Angie has seen a lot of moms receive specialty outfits as presents, but are missing basics like sleepers, socks and onesies. She also points out that moms shop consignment because they aren’t comfortable buying new, like if the child will only wear or use the item, like a fancy dress, a few times, or for items that have great resale value and are perfect to pass on – like a wooden train set or a muddy buddy rain suit. I personally had a friend who preferred buying second-hand garments since they had been washed a few times and were free of manufacturing chemicals.
“Keep your eyes out for shoes and jackets that are in great shape and in a size that your little one will grow into,” advises Angie, who knows that these items are harder to find on consignment. She also recommends keeping your eyes peeled for rain gear – an essential in Vancouver. For these items, she suggests snapping them up even if the item is a bit big. “Go for it! They will always need it.”
If you’re selling, Angie recommends calling ahead if you are planning to drop off items since every store’s consignment policies are different. “Consignment is very difficult to manage and the guidelines are in place for a reason.”
When selling, it’s also important to keep the season in mind. Stores generally start purchasing items well before the season starts so that they can switch over from one season to another. So if it’s December, the store might be selling winter items, but they are already accepting clothing for spring. Some stores will time the intake and pick-up schedule so that it’s easier for everyone. For example, Beansprouts has dates that fit with the flow of the seasons and schedules only two times for sellers to pick up the items that didn’t sell well. “When it is time to pick up your fall/winter returns (consignment that did not sell), it is also time to drop off spring and same goes for the summer returns and fall/winter drop off.”