Are Consignment Sales a Big Waste of Time?

By | January 30, 2011

If you’re a mom, you’re probably familiar with children’s consignment sales.

In Nashville, the consignment season begins in mid-February and runs through April for spring/summer clothing; fall/winter sales begin in mid-July and run through September. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I could probably find a consignment sale to either sell in or shop at within a 50 mile radius of my house most every weekend of each season. (To find a consignment sale in your area, visit Kids’ Consignment Sales.)

Consignment sales offer many perks:

  • Sellers can get rid of stuff and make some money, often slightly higher than what they’d net at a garage sale.
  • Sellers get early dibs (and sometimes first dibs) on shopping.
  • Sellers can sell without the hassle and expense of setting up, advertising, and working a garage sale at their home.
  • Sellers can simply indicate “donate” on unsold items and they never have to touch them again.
  • Shoppers get great deals on gently used children’s items, which they can often turn around and sell again.
  • Shoppers can support fellow moms and women entrepreneurs who own and run the sales, as well as their fellow consignors.

I am a seasoned consignor and consignment sale shopper. I have participated in numerous sales, mostly as a member of my parents of multiples club.

But this season, I’ve decided to consign with another local consignment “franchise,” which is the largest in our area. The fee is $10; the profit is 70%. If anyone is going to make money with minimal effort (and I’m really focusing here on best use of my time—return on investment), it will be at this sale. I really want to see if consigning is worth the time for me to sell.

When most people consider “looking in their houses” for money-making opportunities, they automatically think about selling stuff they no longer need.

Well, I’m going to test that theory and post my data here. I’ll log how many hours I work preparing for the sale, money spent for supplies, number of items I put into the sale, how much (if any) I spend at the sale, my consignor’s fee, and of course, my earnings when it’s all over.

Stay tuned during February to see how I do with the consignment sale!

Do you sell and/or shop in consignment sales?
Do you consider them “worth it” in terms of time spent?


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photo: Encores and More consignment sale

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Mary Bernard is a Nashville-based writer and mother of three. She's worked in a variety of corporate and creative environments, but none is more comfortable than the dining room table in her own home. Mary loves to help moms discover God's unique call to look in their own houses for their priorities, passions, and provision.

9 thoughts on “Are Consignment Sales a Big Waste of Time?

  1. Jamie

    The last time I sold in a consignment sale was probably about 3 or 4 years ago for a big sale in our community. I spent several hours tagging, etc. and I think I made less than $50 so in my mind it was definitely NOT worth it. Some bigger ticket items I will sell on ebay. Usually I donate to Goodwill or pass on to someone I know with girls. With two girls, though, I save everything for my younger daughter and then after she’s outgrown it it is very well “loved” and not suitable to consign.

    1. admin

      I hear ‘ya! That’s why I’m taking the scientific/data-gathering approach this time. I really want to find out my “hourly rate.”

  2. Meredith

    I’ll be really interested to follow your progress! For me, the ironing, tagging, etc. have not been worth the return, but since I’ve bought most of their clothes secondhand to begin with, no problem.

    1. admin

      Thanks, Meredith.

      I’m interested to find out myself! 😉 And, I know. I LOVE to shop the sales because I find so many great deals and good quality clothing.

  3. Lianne

    It took a few years, but, I have discovered that I always sell the most, and therefore make the most, at the Once Around the Block Kids Sale on White Bridge Road. It’s a big sale and she gets tons of customers. So, I am loyal to that sale. It does take time to hang and price all your clohtes. But,I’m not giving up paid work hours in order to get ready for the sale. I price and tag my clothes usually at night with the tv on. I also hang each clothing item right when I realize it is going to be in a sale. If I had an easier way and quicker way to make some extra cash, I wouldn’t spend my time with consignment sales. Pricing is key too. You really have to ask yourself, “What would I pay for this item?” instead of how much you think it’s worth or what you paid for it. Mary, I think your experiement is a great idea. I have always wanted to do that.

    1. admin

      Thanks for commenting, Lianne. You are the queen, for sure. I have always wanted to “hang as I go,” (cleaning out closets, etc.) but haven’t ever been organized enough to do it.

  4. Leah

    So interested in how it will end up! I wonder this all the time. In our house time is money, so I’m always curious about whether it’s better to sell/donate/buy new.


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