Y’all have seen that for the past few weeks I have been feverishly posting my kids’ clothing to sell. I have even apologized to those that may not be interested. But, I wanted to take a few minutes to explain why I do it the way I do it and to teach you how to dress your kids well without spending a fortune!
I know many of you have thought at least one of these….
“Why doesn’t she just have a garage sale?” – Because I live WAY out-of-town and wouldn’t have enough traffic to make it worth the effort.
“Why doesn’t she just take them to a consignment shop?” – I do take some things there. But what I am going to teach you in this post will explain why I don’t take EVERYTHING to a resale store.
“Why is she listing each thing individually? It would probably sell better in a big batch.”- Not necessarily, and again, I will explain all of that in this post.
“Does she seriously think she is going to get $15 or $20 PLUS SHIPPING for a USED OUTFIT?!?!?!” – YES, I DO AND YES, I WILL.
I have dreamt of being a mommy since I was probably 11 or 12 years old. I had SIX Cabbage Patch Kids and TONS of clothes for them. I changed them often and if I was allowed to take one of them shopping with me, I dressed H.E.R. in my favorite outfit. I say that to explain that I have dreamt of dressing up my little girl in adorable outfits for my entire life. But, guess what. I don’t have a little girl! So, I had to learn how to shift that to cute boy clothes, which are few and far between.
My BFF had a little GIRL (of course!) 3 months before Evan was born. She introduced me to custom boutique pieces (items hand-made by a seamstress, but look like the fancy clothes in the boutiques) and we both became COMPLETELY addicted to shopping for baby clothes on eBay! It was much easier for her because she had a girl. But, I learned what key words to search for and when to shop for the expensive pieces to get the best deals. So, when Evan was about 2 years old, he had a wardrobe that I, myself was jealous of. It was about that time that I also discovered Gymboree. I had been into Gymboree shops and found them ridiculously expensive for what it was. But, I didn’t know the secrets that I am about to share with you.
So, that’s how this got started. But due to our situation the last couple of years, my mad bargain-finding skills have been a necessity to fulfill my dream of having well-dressed kids and maintaining the budget that I was dealt.
So, here are some tips for dressing your kids in an expensive wardrobe without paying for it:
1. First of all – don’t EVER buy expensive children’s clothing and pay full retail price! Most of the higher priced children’s boutiques have smokin’ hot clearance racks. You should shop there. Smocked boutique items can run as high as $60-$70 and many are either holiday or seasonally themed. That means that your little one may wear this outfit 3-4 times if you’re lucky. Smocked pieces are a HUGE hit here in the South. But at $40 (at least) a pop, it’s hard to get them when you are on a budget. So, shop those clearance racks.
2 – Shop the Clearance racks OUT OF SEASON! In other words, look for Christmas outfits for next year in February or March. Look for smocked pumpkins and witches around Christmas time. Look for crabs and sand castles during “Back to School “sales! The boutique brands all have yearly/seasonal “collections” or “lines”. Those pieces will be a year old when that season/holiday comes around again. So, they get drastically reduced to get them out of the way! I have found adorable smocked pieces for as much as 75% off. That makes a $60 outfit a very affordable $15! You do have to play the guessing game on the sizes, but if it’s only $15, buy two size options. You can probably sell the other one as New With Tags for $30, or half of retail, and therefore, the one you use is FREE.
3. Shop Consignment shops. – You can find some great deals at Children’s Consignment stores. Once Upon A Child in Mandeville is a great one! Now, these types of stores are going to be hit-or-miss. So, if you live near one, I would visit frequently! Some of them are organized by size and within the size, they might be sorted by color. Others may have a section for just boutique items. This is where the smocked and boutique pieces will be. You may find many with the tags still on them. They should be half of retail or less. Be sure to check it for spots, stains and tears before you purchase it. Also, be aware that some stores give you a better price if you are selling clothes to them that day. (I will get into selling further down in the post.) Or, they may give you more for what you sell to them if you use it as store credit instead of getting cash. They may also offer coupons, punch cards, etc. Some stores take anything at anytime, other stores may only take the upcoming season. So, become familiar with your store and all of their policies before you start. These stores are often JAM PACKED with stuff AND people. It can be overwhelming!
4. Know what brands to look for. I’ve already established that smocked items are a great thing to look for because they are so expensive. Also, because of their price, they are usually only worn a few times and are well taken care of. But, some other things to look for are in-home sale Trunk Show lines. These are brands that are not sold in stores, but sold at shows in your home, like a Pampered Chef party. They have seasonal collections and are a bit on the pricy side, but therefore maintain their value and are highly sought after on the resale market. A couple of the better known Trunk Show lines are “Kelly’s Kids” and ”Chez Ami“. These clothes are adorable and can be personalized with your child’s name. Because they are based on a seasonal collection, many people may be looking for a certain piece to complete an outfit, or to match an older sibling.
5. – eBay – Once you learn what brands and collections you like, you can look for pieces on eBay. Again, shop for them out of season. There won’t be nearly as much competition in the auctions for a Christmas dress in February or March as there will be in early September or October. Why?? Because some of us crazy moms who obsess over this stuff already have our Christmas card ideas in our head and as soon as the kids are back to school, we start trying to piece those outfits together. Most Christmas pics are taken in November so that they are back in time for cards to be created, delivered and mailed out. You gotta be on the ball to be a crazy mom!
Remember, that on eBay, you are going to pay shipping and the seller is going to pay fees to both eBay and PayPal, so they may not be willing to deal. But, you can always contact them and ask them if they would take less or if they would give you a better price if you buy more than one of their items. These tactics work better OFF SEASON! They aren’t going to need your sale if there are 30 other moms bidding on their items like sharks in a feeding frenzy!
6. – Facebook – That leads me to my newest discovery in this area: Facebook buying/selling pages! I always say in my classes that Facebook is a necessary evil. It’s such a pain in the butt, but it’s highly successful for its intended purpose: Social Networking!
There are TONS of pages out in FB-land that are dedicated to buying and selling used children’s clothing. Some are brand specific, some are gender specific. You just have to look and find the ones that suit you and your kids’ wardrobe. Generally, you post “SOLD” and your PayPal address to buy something. The seller will invoice you through PayPal. You will also pay shipping on these pages, but because there are no fees involved, you are likely to get a better deal than on eBay. Be sure to read the “About” section of each page to learn their rules because they are all different. Some allow you to HOLD an item , but you have to follow a certain format to do so. Others do not allow holds. You need to be familiar with the policies of your favorites. Some of my favorites are:
Trunk Show and Boutique Clothes Addicts and Resale, New and Used Boys’ Consignment, Gymboree Boys Only Re-sale . Just search for your favorite brands or the words “used” or “consignment” and find the coordinating pages.
Most pages follow the same lingo that eBay does. These are just basic abbreviations that I’m sure got started because eBay titles only allow so many characters. Here are the basics:
NWT – New With Tags, NWOT – New Without Tags, – EUC- Excellent Used Condition, VGUC – Very Good Used Condition, Play – only good for play clothes, may have stains, TTS – True to Size, PP only – they only accept Paypal, Mention of Brother or Sister: means that they have the same outfit in another size or the coordinating other gender, ISO – In Search Of (the are looking for this piece, not selling it), IMO – In my opinion (they may say “it runs big IMO”), Real Life – means photos of your actual item, not a stock photo from the brand’s website.
7 - Monogrammed Items – Who doesn’t love to boast their new baby’s name all over everything that they own?? Personalized items are a HUGE re-sale market. Again, because they cost a bit more and can only be used by your one child. UNLESS – you give all of your kids the same initials, then you can hand-me-down initial pieces. Otherwise, it’s a one hit wonder. So, you can search pages like Monogram Exchange or any of the other boutique pages. You can bet that there is SOMEONE out there whose child has the same name and they would rather pay you half for your used monogrammed item than pay full price for the outfit and then an additional fee to have it monogrammed. On that note, your re-sale market will increase DRASTICALLY if you only have your child’s FIRST INITIAL monogrammed instead of his/her full name or full initials. Plus, I know some people are hesitant to advertise their wandering toddler’s name for all to see for safety reasons. So, the first initial still allows you to have the cutesy, personalized look, without enabling would-be kidnappers.
8. SHOES! – Shoes re-sell well, and therefore, you can get a great deal, but under the same principle as above. Certain brands will sell better than others. Condition is a HUGE factor in shoes, even more than in clothing. So, if you need expensive shoes like Stride Rite, See Kai Run, Pediped, etc…..you can look online for them and get a better deal. Just be sure you know what size you need as there is no chance to try them on.
Ok, so that sums up the buying tips (and introduces some about selling). Now, you have spent half the money for the same wonderful wardrobe, but now they have outgrown it! What do you do with it?? SELL IT!!
1. – CONDITION! – The better the condition, the better the price you can get back. If you are selling something NWT, you should try to get back what you spent. If you shop using the guidelines above, you should be able to do that easily. But, you MUST BE HONEST about the condition. If you get a bad rep for describing incorrectly, the social networking thing will come back to bite you. For this reason, you should take EXCELLENT care of clothing that you intend to sell later. If you can honestly say that it has been washed on gentle and hung to dry, your piece will appear to have been cared for and have less wash wear, thus having a better value for re-sale. *****DO NOT TAKE THE TAGS OFF OF ITEMS UNTIL YOU ARE READY TO WASH OR WEAR THEM!!! If your little one happens to not fit in that $60 smocked Santa bubble that you bought on clearance last March, you can get WAY more for it if it is still NWT instead of new and washed!***
2 – Know what you have - You need to know the brand name and the size for sure! Even if the tags are gone, you need this information. Some people will ask for measurements because all of these brands run differently. Some are HUGE and some are tiny. I had an outfit given to Noah that was a 0-3 and he didn’t wear it until he was 9 months old. You need to be careful and accurate when giving measurements. Ask them exactly what measurements they want because they are probably comparing it to an outfit that they have now. Also – VERY IMPORTANT – if there is a line or collection name, KNOW IT.
3- Selling on eBay – This used to be THE place to sell all of this kind of stuff. But, sellers on eBay often pay a listing fee, may pay a fee to have more than one picture of the item, and then pay a final value fee. Then, eBay bought PayPal and mandates that you only accept payment through them. This is, yet ANOTHER fee that the seller has to cover. So, they can easily end up giving eBay and PayPal as much as 10% or more of what they make. With FB having no fees on these pages, it is much more alluring to the sellers and they may be willing to bargain with you for a better deal. So, before you list on eBay, try to find somewhere to list it on Facebook and save those fees. It seems like each area has a Buy/Sell/Trade page now that is like a social classified or Craigslist for your area.
4- GYMBOREE! – This is where a lot of this all comes together. It really should be its own post. I mentioned in my intro that there were secrets to Gymbo shopping. If you just walk into a Gymboree, you will see that the prices are a bit high. It may be $25- $30 for just a top or pair of pants. It may be closer to $40 for a sweater. DON’T PAY THAT!
*No Retail Price! – Gymboree is always having a sale of some sort. There are coupons in many magazines for 20% off and sometimes you get them in the mail for 20 or 30%. HOARD THEM. USE THEM. You can find out where to get coupons HERE.
*Know where to look: Usually, boys’ clothin is on the left when you enter the store and girls’ is on the right. Most stores have a small baby section in the back middle area. On either side of this baby section is a clearance rack. This is your target area. Things there are usually already marked way down, but you can always ask the cashier to verify the price for you. If there is a store-wide sale, it will usually include these already reduced clearance items. So, let’s say that there is a shirt on the clearance rack that was $25. It’s now reduced by 30% for clearance, so it is $17.50. But, the store has 20% off all tops (just making this up as an example), now it is $14.00. Oh, and you happen to have a 20% coupon in your purse from the June/July issue of Family Fun Magazine (<—-Click that link to get a free subscription). Now, the shirt is $11.20, or less than half price. But it gets better…..keep reading.
*Great Resale Value - Now, here is the beauty of Gymboree. Next year, after your little one wears this shirt this year (and you take good care to keep it stain free), you can re-sell it for at least $10 plus shipping if it is in EUC. If you don’t get to use it and it is still NWT, then you could probably get $12 – $15 out of it depending on how popular the line was. How do you know what the line is? You can find it at GymboHaven. They have ALL the lines and pictures with the original retail price for most items going back as far as 2001! they are broken down into gender then listed by year. In each year, you will find each line with its name and release date. If you don’t know where to start to find the line name, you can look on the tag of your piece for the year. Then, start in that year. Remember that this is the year the item was made, not released. So, if it says 2011, it could be an early 2012 line, too. Each “line” has a theme and designated color palette. So, most pieces from that line will coordinate with any other piece. Because of this, the line name is extremely important in re-selling.
For instance, there may be a mom whose husband is a fireman. So, Gymboree comes out with a line of firetrucks that year called “Firehouse Hounds” and she wants it all! But, her store was out of some of it in the size she needed. It’s much easier to search eBay or ask the FB pages for “Firehouse Hounds” than say the “Fireman Line”. This is because there is a Fireman line about every 2-3 years, but they are all totally different. If you are searching eBay, you would search “Gymboree Firehouse Hounds” and all of the pieces of that line that are listed should appear. Knowing the line name makes it easier to find pieces to buy and also to identify pieces to sell.
*Gymbucks – Gymboree also runs a Gymbucks Promotion a few times a year. Each promo is broken into an EARNING period and a REDEMPTION period. Basically, during the earning period, for every $50 you spend, you will earn a $25 Gymbucks certificate. Then, during the redemption period, for every $50 you spend, you can use one of those $25 certificates. Now, that doesn’t sound like a lot of savings to some folks (men!). Because, in their minds, you just paid $50 to only force you to spend another $25 later. But, if you use the shirt example above, let’s look at the math.
We established that the shirt cost $11.20 instead of the $25 price on the tag. So, let’s say that you found 5 pieces of the same price. Their value was $125, but you paid $56 and earned a $25 Gymbucks. Now, about a week later, you will be able to use that $25 to buy more items. So, now, you go back and find $50 worth of clearance items that are 30% off (just for consistency) or about $71.42 in retail price. Your total comes to right at $50 on the clearance items and you use your Gymbucks certificate to get it down to $25. (You can’t use a coupon when redeeming a Gymbucks certificate, by the way.) So, between both transactions, you have gotten $196.42 worth of clothing for about $82. That’s about 60% off retail. And then, once you’re done with it, you can re-sell it for (let’s be conservative) 25% of retail if it’s in great condition. That would bring you $49.10 back. So, the $196 worth of clothing that your kids used cost you about $33!
I have VERY OFTEN found pieces that I ADORED on Gymbo clearance racks. T-shirts may be as low as $3.99! That is about the same price, if not less than you would pay for a t-shirt at Wal-Mart or Target and Gymbo stuff holds up WAY better in my opinion. Also, the re-sale return IS NOT going to happen on a Wal-Mart or Target shirt that has been washed and dried and is twisted and misshapen.
FINAL TIPS – Now, you are educated and ready to sell.
*You need to take good pictures of your items laid out flat so that potential buyers can see them and their condition. Also, please rotate them before you upload them. That drives me nuts when people try to sell you something from a picture that is upside down! GRRRR!
*If you are going to sell Gymbo items, they either need to be put into outfits or be special pieces from the line to get the best price. In other words, a plain pink t-shirt may not sell as well as it would if it were photographed and sold with a printed bottom that was a popular item in the line. But, I sold a t-shirt last week in about 5 minutes that had a campfire on it and the flames made kindof a heart to say “I “heart/flames” Camping.” Sold it for $7 plus shipping! It was one of the more popular pieces in the line because it had the theme on it. So, people that enjoy camping would more likely be looking for pieces that have pictures or words about that particular activity than they would a plain pair of jeans that happened to be from the same line. Make sense?
*Many consignment stores are a good place to BUY Gymboree, but not necessarily to SELL it. They aren’t going to give you as much for a t-shirt with a firetruck on it as that mom who has been looking for it for 6 months will! This holds true to most of the more expensive items that I have talked about. Generally speaking – buy from consignment stores, but don’t sell the good stuff to them. It they are going to sell a used t-shirt for $4, they can only give you a dollar or two when you sell it to them. But, that mom might give you $7! Your Wal-Mart and Target and JCP items, go ahead and sell those to the consignment stores and use the store credit to buy more good stuff!
*Remember that timing is everything. You want to BUY off season, but not SELL off season. But, if you do decide that you just need to get rid of it and list it off season, think first. If it is January or February, and you are listing Halloween or Christmas items in a 6 months or smaller, remember that the moms who might need those items in the fall, may not even be pregnant, let alone know the gender they need at that point. Your market is basically non-existant. So, be smart when listing smaller items that early.
I know that this is a very long post and has a whole lot of information in it. I also know that many of you have no interest in this what-so-ever! So, to you, I apologize. But, I have been wanting to put this together for weeks now and just had the chance to get my thoughts together and do it. I hope that some of you find it helpful and informative. So, feel free to ask questions, share the post, etc. Happy Shopping!