Now What Do I Do With All This Stuff?

Who knew that these little babies could come with so much stuff!?! Ok, so all parents seem to know this. Now that we’re done having babies, I need to find a way to get rid of all the clothes, toys, and accessories that they don’t need any more. I’ve done the consignment sales, I’ve donated items, and I’ve done the garage sales. My conclusion: It all takes time and energy. Now the question is, how much of each am I willing to give up?

Donation

Clearly, donating takes the least of each. Of course, I have to go through all the stuff and pick out what to donate, but I do still have to do a little research to figure out who to donate it to and what items each place will take. You get the pleasure of feeling like you are helping others and the tax write off. There are several organizations in the area that are focused on helping children and families in the area (Mother and Child Resources at Blackhawk Church, Kindred Kids…). I’ve also given things to friends and family members.  It is nice to see their little ones wear the things that you loved to put on your kids when they were little.

Time: minimal

Garage Sales

Advantages

There are some advantages of garage sales. First, I can choose what weekend I want to hold the sale. Sometimes the consignment sales are not at a convenient time in my schedule. The downside of choosing the date is that sometimes I procrastinate, and it might never get done. A second advantage is that I don’t have to haul my stuff anywhere. Some of the baby items (e.g. the swing, the crib…) are bulky and hard to transport somewhere else. The third advantage is that I don’t have to price every single item. I’m a big fan of putting a sign up with basic prices and just tagging the bigger items.

Disadvantages 

There are also some major disadvantages. People expect garage sale prices, so in order to sell a lot, I often had to price items pretty cheap. I also have to clean my garage and move tables in to get everything set up. If you’re an optimist, you could look at this as a great chance to get a clean garage, but I often don’t care for this part.

You are also responsible for advertising your sale. I live on the primary road into our subdivision, so we get a fair amount of traffic, but it still requires a bit of work to get people interested enough to stop in for the sale.

Another issue occurs when the sale is done: what do I do with the left overs? Now I have to decide if I’m going to pack it up and donate it, or keep it in storage for the next garage sale.

Finally, and most importantly, the time it takes to sit in my garage and awkwardly wait while strangers sift through my old stuff. This year was especially unpleasant with the absurd amount of mosquitoes. Between the awkwardness of these weird social interactions, and the heat/bugs of summer, this is the biggest disadvantage to me.

Time: 3 hours to clean garage and set up + 14 hours of sale time (two days 7 am-2 pm) + an hour to clean up and pack donation boxes = 18 hours

Consignment Sales

There are several different groups that do biannual consignment sales in the Madison are and surrounding areas (Half-pint Resale, Just Between Friends…). For those not familiar with the sales, they run on one weekend in the fall and one weekend in the spring. You follow their instructions to tag and prepare your items, drop them off at the sale, and come back to claim remaining items at the end. They keep a percentage of sales, and you get the rest. The idea is that you sell only items that are in good condition, and tons of people attend the sales, so you’re able to sell more items than you would at a garage sale.

Advantages

There are several benefits to me. First, no one is coming to my house, so I don’t have to make small talk and I don’t have to clean my garage. Second, I can price my items significantly higher than at garage sales, so I end up making quite a bit more money. Third, the sales have an option to donate items for you if they don’t sell. You can do this item by item, so if you have some things you want to donate, but others you want returned if they don’t sell, you can do this. I love not having to make another trip to a donation center!

Disadvantages

The two biggest down sides to me are prepping the items and the lack of flexibility in timing. You don’t get to choose when the sale is, so if it is a time you are out of town, you are out of luck (unless you have awesome friends that will drop off your items for you).

I don’t mind the time it takes to prepare the items for sale so much, because I can sit in front of the TV with my beverage of choice and hang and tag clothes in the comfort of my family room. However, I do have to spend a little money buying things that are needed to prepare the items. All of the sales require that most clothes are hung on hangers, so I had to buy some large packs of hangers online. I already had a tagging gun, but had to buy some pins to secure the clothes to the hangers and paper to print the tags.

Different sales do have different benefits, so you have to do a little research to figure out what will work best for you. For example, some take 40%, others only 30%, and some give you a larger percentage if you volunteer at the sale. Some take maternity clothes, and others don’t. So it is important to think about what sale will work best for you.

Time: 8 hours to hang and tag items + 1.5 hour to drop off items + 30 minutes to pick up items that didn’t sell = 10 hours

Conclusions

There are, of course, other options, like selling items on ebay or marketplace, but those are even more time intensive. For me, time is a huge concern, so I end up donating a bunch of stuff and using consignment sales for most of the rest of it. I can take in more money and spend less time than garage sales. My new goal? Buy less stuff, so I don’t have as much to get rid of as they grow!

Jill is a born and raised Wisconsinite. She grew up just outside of Madison before heading to northern Michigan for college. Afterwards, she returned to Madison where she married her high school sweetheart, Micah, and earned her PhD in Educational Psychology. Micah and Jill live just outside of Madison with their two children, Levi (5 years old), and Alice (3 years old), and they all love sports and being outside. When Jill isn't enjoying the local Madison parks and activities with her family, she loves to play board games, and relax at home with family and friends. Jill is a busy mom, an active member in her church, and enjoys her job as an Associate Professor of Psychology for a small liberal arts college.

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