A few years ago before the birth of our third child I went to my first consignment sale. It blew my mind how crazy wonderful it was! And, I became infatuated with these wonderful second hand kids sales! Seriously, if you have never been, GO! And, moi, will let you in on some secrets and tips and let you know how you can shop and get the best deals!
First, go through all your kids clothes and see what fits and what doesn't fit. Then do the same with their shoes. I know this seems like a big task (and trust me, it took me two days with homeschool and nursing the baby) but it is a MUST! If you are cosigning and selling, this would understandably be done before hand. But, if your life is crazy busy and your clothes will go through three sons and one nephew, then go through the dressers, tubs, and wherever else you store your clothes. Secondly, make a list! Write down each child's name and what they need. Be specific! For my oldest my list said things like pajamas and then next to that I put a note (he only has x amount of pairs. I do this so when I'm shopping I can remember how important or of how little importance this need is. He only really needed one more pair so I wasn't going to shell out 10 dollars for some as it wasn't an urgent need. My daughter on the other hand desperately needed church shoes, so I starred this item ( I know, you're blown away by how sophisticated my key is). It gets crazy hectic when you are there so not only do you need to know what you need, but sometimes you need to know how much. My daughter needed to pairs of jeans and a few dresses. I made note of this so I wouldn't forget (and with four kids, I forget pretty much everything these days but their names). Okay, you got your extremely detailed list. Now, get a good bag. I used my 31 large utility tote and it was perfect. Get your help. I got my husband (I figured it was the least he could do since the kids are half his). Plan to bring your kids. Okay-- I know this goes against every other tip there is, but listen for a second. I think it is so important to teach kids how to shop. How to be responsible shoppers. I also made it into a math activity for them and my 6 and 8 year old really got into it.
My oldest son kept tally marks of how much we spent. he took his job very seriously and I'm not gonna lie, it freed my hands (and mind) up for keeping track of the merchandise. My Daughter worked on a graph of what we bought and she loved it! My youngest was supposed to graph what color shirts people were wearing but there were so many people he got overwhelmed and forgot all about his list. I should have maybe reminded him, but we could have spent all of our time just doing his graph there were so many people. But, he did look super cute!
Okay, you got your list, your bag, your help, and your kids set up with something to do to engage them. Now, lets prep the team! And believe me, this operation does require team work and team togetherness! Have kids wear socks (so you can try on shoes and see how they will fit) and comfy clothes. Let everyone know upfront if they can pick out a special toy or if they can't. Let them know ahead of time what happens when you are done. Go to a park, out to eat, or back home to play. Let them know this will be a long time, but it's not forever and something fun follows. Pack a snack, diapers, water, and be prepared to make a potty stop. I like to do it once so everyone has to go at the same time. But, plan it to happen if you can and it will make everyone happier. Okay, Now let's do this!!!
Have your list and stick to it. We bypassed all of the toys, games, etc. that weren't on our list and went right to the exersaucers and crib mattresses. These were two big items that we really really needed. We secured these and left them at the holding station. Utilize the special features the sale offers-- like a holding station! The Just Between Friends Sale also had a lovely little nursing area-- huge blessing! Ask the workers where something is and save yourself time searching rows and rows of things with your help and kids. Make the most out of your time and your help. Okay, we had our big things, now off to the shoes! I took my daughter and the baby so I could have her try on shoes (remember, she really needed these). I think when your kids get bigger the sizes get even more all over the place so here is another reason I think bringing your kids is a huge asset. My husband took the two boys to check out games. This was great as he had half the kids and was able to do a quick look and then he came back and looked for shoes for my son while I got some baby slippers. This gave the kids a break from one another. When they regrouped it was like the meeting of long lost siblings! How are you? What did you get? Hugs all around!
At this point, we began to run into some friends we knew. Here is a fellow 31 sister and her gorgeous new baby girl! Always stop and admire a baby--it will make you feel better! Okay, now you are recharged-- onto the clothes! I like to save these for last as they take up a huge part of my list and lots of my bag space. When buying clothes look for: holes, stains, spots, stretched out fabric, dry rotted waistbands (take pants off the hanger and test the waistband) and overall wear left in the garment. Is it on your list? See if you didn't have a list you might by 10 sleepers when you needed one. I also knew to look for a shirt that matched purple pants. I got specific and it helped! While I looked for my daughter and baby, my husband took my three year old and got in line. Again, maximize your help. I shopped, then went and checked in with hubby. We switched kids and I took some to the bathroom, nursed, switched kids again, shopped and then bam! Time for checkout!
My hubby did the checking out. We were sorted and ready to go which made it quicker... until they misplaced one of our hold items. No big deal since we caught it and they got it right away. This was a good time to give the kids a snack, water, and sustenance! They did a great job and learned valuable math skills that correspond with real life shopping skills. My son was upset he was off on the tally marks and had the wrong dollar amount. He then made sure we were okay spending more than what he had figured out. This was a great opportunity to teach budget and responsibility with money. My daughter happily chirped that we bought more clothes than anything else. We talked about why this might be and if she thought going into the sale she thought this was our greatest need. Now, phew, you are all done! You did it!! Go get something to eat (this is my personal favorite reward-- who wants to cook after all that organizing and shopping?!). Yay for lunch out and another tip-- put dinner in the crock pot before you leave so you can have a day off from cooking! Woot woot!
And then you'll have time for a nap too....zzzzzz.....