Secrets to Kids’ Consignment: How to Sell Their Old Stuff, and What to Buy Used

Danielle Ray
Donation concept. Kid hands with donate box with clothes, books and toys on light blue background

Consignment may be one of the best kept secrets of frugal, environmentally conscious parents and those who realize the value purchasing gently used over brand new.

According to the ThredUp 2021 Annual Resale Report, over 6.65 billion items of clothing have been recirculated through the secondhand market over the last decade. By 2023, the secondhand and resale market is expected to reach $53 billion, according to CNBC.

“Consignment and resale (are) the best way to give items a second chance to be used,” said Cassandra Abramson, president and founder of ECi Stores out of Leominster. “We as a society, create tons of waste a year headed to our landfills of items that are still in great condition and can be used again. To keep the items in a circular path of use and pass them onto another family that can use them, consignment is the way to go. Plus, by shopping consignment, you get to experience items for you and your family from all your favorite brands, at a fraction of original retail pricing.”

Wendy Salo, owner of The Children’s Consignment Boutique at the Felter's Mill in Millbury, echoed her sentiments, saying that the environmental conscious aspect is just one advantage of shopping resale.

“The benefits of shopping consignment, besides decreasing the amount of waste heading to the dumps, is allowing local parents, grandparents and the like to not only save money, but also earn credit towards ‘new to you’ items,” she said. “I find it beneficial in helping families give back to other families. Everyone can help each other, whether it be directly or indirectly.”

Consumers are purchasing from resale retailers more than ever. America's Research Group, a consumer research firm, found that about 16 to 18% of Americans will shop at a thrift store during a given year and for consignment and resale shops that number is about 12 to 15%.

ECi Stores includes Cutie Patuties at 1021 Central St., a consignment shop filled to the brim with children’s, teen and women’s clothing, shoes, toys, and much more such as cribs and other newborn accessories. CP & Company and Q Teens are included under the company umbrella inside Cuties and Cutiques at 12 Manning Ave. is a home décor and furniture shop.

“The best secret we can give customers is to shop frequently,” Abramson said. “New items come into the store every day, and you don't want to miss anything. If you can't shop in person, check the website to stay up to date on current inventory and buy online. We only have one of each item and you don't want to miss it.”

Aside from shopping, consigning is a smart move for parents looking to purge, too. Children outgrow clothes and toys so fast, and most of these items have a lot of life left. Why not pass them on, and score a little money?

Salo has good advice for those thinking of consigning. “Make sure everything is in the condition that would prompt you to purchase it if you came across it in a resell shop," she said. "For example, clothing would have as little wrinkling as possible, shoes would have little to no signs of wear, and all the pieces to toys would be included."

Abramson said the most in demand items at Cutie Patuties are new toys, great condition shoes, and outdoor play gear, and that “many items are factored into determining the value of each item.”

“Condition, brand, style, and demand from customers are the most important,” she said about pricing clothing and more.

Salo said that in her shop, “the highest demand items honestly vary every day.”

“Some days I have three people looking for highchairs, other days, everyone seems to be in search of raincoats and boots,” Salo said. “When people ask me what it is I am in need of the most, I usually answer with ‘It all depends on what people happen to be in search of today!’”

She went on to say that while people may think a consignment shop “isn’t the place for them, I truly believe everyone should visit a few of them to see what great surprises they can find.”

“When buying from my consignment shop, it is no secret that I only accept the best of the best of the gently loved items. You can save a lot of money for quality items," she said. 

According to NARTS: The Association of Resale Professionals, “there are currently more than 25,000 resale, consignment and Not For Profit resale shops in the United States.”

In addition to shops, consignment sales are another way shoppers can hunt for bargains or sell their stuff. These are local, organized shopping events usually held over three or four days that can be a quick and easy way to sell a number of items all at once. You drop off your items to the event organizers, who are responsible for promoting and running the sale in exchange for a percentage of your sales.

The LexFUN! consignment sale, voted one of the top five consignment sales in the state by Boston Parents Paper, is returning on April 23 at the Lexington High School Field House. As one of the largest children’s consignment sales, families, parents, and caregivers can not only consign their own items but also shop deals from hundreds of sellers that includes baby, children’s, and maternity clothing, gear, toys, and more. Find all the details at lexfun.org/consignment.

The website consignmentsalefinder.org helps consumers locate a children’s consignment sale in the state, whether in person or virtual. According to the website, children's consignment sales are typically held twice a year, in late winter and in the fall.

3 Tips to Make the Most Money Consigning Kids’ Items

Presentation is everything: Think about the condition you’d want an item to be in if you bought it. Ripped or stained clothes are a no. Take some time to wash, spot treat or iron clothes. Wipe down and sanitize toys and other gear. 

Price it right: You set the price when you sell at a consignment sale. Keep it affordable. Generally, items go for 50% to 70% less than the retail price. When it comes to clothes, you can charge a bit more for name-brand or specialty outfits. 

Start with the best-sellers: Start with big ticket items like baby gear and accessories and excellent condition toys. Then move to coats, clothes and shoes. Next, smaller items like games and puzzles.