Reduce, Reuse, Resale! Maximizing Your Resale Experience

Does spring cleaning season (or that Facebook clean out challenge) have you clearing out kids’ clutter? Are you looking for a bit more motivation to let go of things or just tired of investing in brand new items that are quickly outgrown or cast aside? If you love deals, don’t mind previously owned, new or gently-used merchandise, or just want to turn some of that clutter into extra cash then resale shopping or selling might be for you.

There are entire social networks devoted to giving away and selling kids’ stuff online. The Cleveland area has no shortage of consignment shops and events, which sell your goods for you and then keep some of the profits. But, if you’re like me and D.I.Y. face-to-face selling or shopping is more your style—resale events are worth exploring. Plus you keep all your own earnings!

I worked my aunt’s yard sales growing up, did retail sales during college and consider myself a professional shopper (just ask my husband). After having two kids though, I learned resale events are a whole new ballgame. The sheer size and volume of toys, children and maternity clothing, furniture and other gear is astounding and can feel like walking into a convention center-sized garage sale, so it helps to go in with a plan. Having partnered with seasoned resale planners to organize these events in my community, I’ve turned four-figure profits, scored pristine name brand items and compiled pointers along the way to help make the most of any resale experience.

1. Make a list – Take inventory of your closets and playrooms. Plan ahead to know who you are shopping for and what you want (including the brands you know and trust). If you want to sell, assess how many items you’re ready to part with and then purchase space size accordingly. While organizations may offer discounted tables to their members, anyone can shop or reserve space to sell. Prime spots by entrances and ends of aisles can get snatched up months in advance.

2. Size them up – Check wardrobes and growth charts to know what clothing and shoe sizes kids will need each season. Look one size above and below too – certain brands run big or small. Ideally, sellers will have large, clear signage displaying sizes, gender, age group and brands available, so you can scan the room to determine where to focus.

3. Set a budget – Have a budget in mind and bring plenty of small bills ($20 and under, especially singles). If you’re looking for larger, pricier items (like cribs or strollers) plan accordingly and check the designated big ticket item area as soon as you arrive. Research retail pricing online in advance or have your smart phone handy to find the best deals. I see items priced anywhere from 30 to 70 percent or more off retail depending on the brand, age and condition. As a seller, pricing goods can be tricky. I focus on my biggest, most valuable items first and use pricing on retailer websites and online marketplaces like eBay as a guide, then size up my competition onsite and bring extra pricing stickers/tags to adjust as needed.

4. Have baggage – Sellers may have plastic bags, but pack totes, collapsible laundry baskets, wagons, and/or rolling suitcases or carts to haul purchases. When selling, an apron with pockets or money belt is useful. Hang nicer clothing on racks, so it’s on display and easy to peruse. I transport other pre-sorted, folded and priced clothing in clear under-the-bed containers. They make for easy organization and storage before, during and after the sale – just set them on the table, tuck the lids underneath and you have self-contained, manageable piles ready to go. You may not even have to bring your unsold items home. Many organizers offer onsite charity collections after the events.

5. Bring a friend – Divide and conquer. Have a buddy to help with decision-making and bringing items to your vehicle. If you’re selling, you can chat with shoppers while your pal makes change.

6. Ask questions – Don’t hesitate to ask sellers about a product, including how old it is, pricing (which may be negotiable), intended age group and how it works. The best sellers include original owner’s manuals, instructions or written descriptions of an item’s features. And, if you suspect an item has been recalled, check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website. Be especially cautious with items like car seats, which usually expire after six years from the manufacturing date.

7. Come early and often – Early birds (usually 7-9 a.m.) often get discounted entry and the best selection, but pricing can change as a sale goes on. Sellers are more willing to bundle or mark down items as the event comes to a close (usually around noon). Re-entry may be allowed, so you can haul items to your car then shop some more. Also, new sellers join each season, so no two resale events are the same.

Dozens of resale events are taking place across our area over the next several weeks and will be held again in the fall. Just check out your community’s PTA/PTO event calendar or visit websites with comprehensive online resale listings like Northeast Ohio Family Fun or Northeast Ohio Parent.

Happy resale shopping and selling! Do you have other resale tips to share?

PLEASE NOTE: This post is based on a set of tips I originally posted to Avon Lake Early Childhood PTA’s 2016 resale Facebook event page.

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Lindsey Geiss

Lindsey Geiss is a public relations and crisis communications planning professional turned stay-at-home mom and writer. When she’s not handling local early childhood PTA publicity, she’s getting crafty with the kids, researching allergy-friendly toddler snacks, or finding and wrapping that perfect gift. Lindsey is a shoe-lover, jump rope enthusiast and recovering perfectionist. She lives on the West side of Cleveland with her husband and two young children.

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