How to Score Big at Children’s Consignment Sales

Springtime means it’s consignment sale season! As a person who hates to shop but loves to save money, consignment sales are where it’s at. The fact that I can buy everything my kids need in the same place at the same time at drastically reduced prices makes me so happy. One-stop shopping! Plus, you can feel good about shopping previously used items – reduce, reuse, recycle. Here are some tips for how to be successful when shopping at children’s consignment sales; 

1. Shop Early

Not everyone can shop early otherwise this tip wouldn’t work, but if possible, shop early for the biggest selection of items. Many consignment sales give options for special shopping hours if you volunteer or consign at the sale (or both!). Also, some sales allow new or first-time parents to shop before the regular public hours.

If none of those options work for you, show up on the public shopping day as early as possible. At some sales, there will be people camping out in line over an hour in advance (think Black Friday shopping). As they say, the early bird gets the worm (or in this case – kids’ items at super low prices)!

2. Understand Payment(s) Beforehand

Each sale is a little different. Make sure to check the website to ensure you know what to expect in terms of payment. Is there an entry fee? Will you need to pay for parking? Can you pay with a credit card or is it cash and check only? You don’t want any surprises about payment after ringing up all your awesome finds.

toddlers in snowpants and snowboots
Bought all of my kids’ winter gear at a consignment sale.

3. BYOB (Bring Your Own Bags)  

Some children’s consignment sales have large shopping bags for you to borrow but I always bring my own. This way I can pre-label my bags with my information (name, phone number, and date) in order to be able to leave them in the holding area while I continue to shop.  Having to carry all my bags the entire time would get very heavy.

4. Bring Entertainment 

I learned this lesson the hard way. I’ve waited in line to check out my items for over an hour before, not to mention the line to even get into the consignment sale! If you are not wanting to strike up a conversation with those around you, bring something to do. Personally, I plug in my earbuds and listen to my current audiobook while standing in line.  Parents are nothing but great multitaskers.

toddler playing t-ball
Plan ahead and shop for holidays too! This t-ball set made a great gift for my toddlers.

5. Know the Rules

Again each sale is different, make sure you read the guidelines before attending. There are rules about bringing children. There are rules about strollers. I highly recommend not bringing any kids with you while you shop. Most children do not have a long attention span, they take up space in the already tight aisles, and the temptation to play with the toys for sale may be too great for them to handle. Some of you may not have the option to leave your littles at home, but if you are on the fence and have the choice, enjoy shopping kid-free.

6. Consider Your Transportation

Imagine a majorly pregnant woman trying to squeeze a large jumperoo into a Toyota Corolla. Ha, that was me after realizing I had brought my husband’s car shopping and not my own. Somehow I managed to fit it in eventually, but consider how you will be transporting all your wonderful consignment sale finds before arriving. Clear out your trunk space because you might end up buying more than you planned on.

baby in jumperoo
Scored this jumperoo for $40 at a consignment sale, it retails for over $100.


7. Make an Organized Shopping List 

A strategic shopping plan always helps my resale shopping go smoother. I make a list of exactly what I want to buy and then put the items in order of priority. For these upcoming spring sales, I will be looking for water shoes, swimsuits, pajamas, clothing, toys, and books, in that order. I note sizes and colors on the shopping list so no thinking is needed and I can just grab and go. Tip – write the shopping list down on paper so you won’t need to constantly get your phone out.

8. Take Advantage of Half Price Day

Many consignment sales have a day or time when the prices on all remaining items are drastically reduced. There have been times when I don’t buy any clothes at a sale until the discount day and the selection is still amazing! 

toddler Packer, Badger, and Brewer dresses
I purchased all three of these outfits on the last day of a sale for just a few dollars!

9. Pick the Right Sale For You

Madison has a number of consignment sales in the area. I would recommend doing a little research to try and determine which sale will be best for you. Take a look at dates, locations, and times. Also, you may want to find out what types of items are available at the sale. For example, some sales carry maternity clothing and some do not.  

10. Have Fun and Be Respectful

Consignment sales can be crowded, stressful, and time-consuming. Please remember that most workers are volunteers. Shoppers are other local parents trying to find deals just like you. If you bump into someone, say excuse me. Don’t fight over anything. Don’t take something and put it in your bag unless you are definitely going to buy it. Don’t hold a place in line for your friends when there are people lined up behind you. Consignment sale shopping can be a lot of fun if you don’t let the craziness get to you. 


I hope you find these children’s consignment sale shopping tips helpful.  If you have any more suggestions or advice please let me know in the comment section below!

Mehgan recently moved back to Wisconsin and is taking advantage of all Madison has to offer! She graduated from UW-Madison in Family and Consumer Science Education and taught high school for five years before becoming a bridal store manager/wedding planner. Currently mom to her extremely active toddler Cora (March 2017), sweet baby Autumn (September 2018), and large Goldendoodle Benny (January 2010), Mehgan is relishing the opportunity to stay at home for the moment. Reading and blogging on her personal blog ( takes up any spare moments she can steal during naptime. Mehgan can't wait for summer when camping, zoo outings, and trips to Door County will be on the agenda.


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