Monday, October 19, 2009

I heart Pass it On

In the spring of 2006, I became involved with the Pass it On children's consignment sale as a vendor. At the time, my husband and I were thinking about starting our own family, but I didn't have a reason to buy any baby or kids' items at the sale. My jewelry booth was not getting much action, however, so I sat and read a funny book called The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy, which I ended up purchasing and finishing at home (good for a laugh, but don't let it be the only book you read when expecting--it is mostly filled with complaints about pregnancy discomfort). What I didn't know then was that my little girl was already a cluster of rapidly dividing cells that day.

Since the first sale I participated in, I have been involved with the semi-annual Pass it On event in various vendor capacities promoting Curves and/or selling jewelry. I've seen the sale expand and improve, each time practically busting the seams of its venue. And obviously, I've been a loyal shopper beginning in the fall of 2006, when I waddled through the aisles a couple of months before giving birth.

I anticipate Pass it On for months, and even wait to buy things for Madelyn if the need isn't too urgent, because I know I'll be able to get fantastic deals on everything all in one place. The selection of gear, clothing, toys, and more is always good, especially as the sale has grown to over 60,000 items this past weekend.

I shopped at another consignment event in the past where each family had their own "booth" and you paid them directly for their items. This meant having to bring cash to pay for one or a few items at a time. Plus, it's common to visit sales like this looking for a specific item or type of item. So if I were looking for girls' clothes in size 18-24 months, or a certain brand of nursing pillow, it meant wandering every booth in search. At Pass it On, all items are organized by type and size. Each consignor has a number and the items are all tagged with prices and barcodes, so in the above scenario I could go directly to girls' 18-24 months clothing and select from every item available, then mosey over to the "feeding" area and see if that nursing pillow was available. Then I bring my IKEA shopping bag (usually filled to the brim) to the checkout line and pay for all the items with my Visa.

This season I mainly needed new clothes for Madelyn: more long-sleeves, new shoes and jammies, etc. Take a look at my sweet haul, for all of which I paid ONLY $87:

7 long-sleeved shirts
1 hoodie
1 heavy sweater
3 pairs pants
1 adorable skirt
2 pajama sets
1 rain coat
1 plush terry robe
1 ballet leotard and ballet slippers
2 pairs shoes
1 pair furry slippers
1 Adidas sling bag
Average price per item = $3.78
A few of these items were brand new with tags. Most of the others look like they were hardly worn or are in excellent condition. I get so excited, it's like Christmas--or maybe Halloween--bringing home my bag of goodies and setting it all out to show my husband. He's never quite as outwardly enthused as me, but I know he appreciates the bargains.
In the spring I was interested in buying a booster seat for our kitchen table, and a friend highly recommended the Cooshie Booster, which retails for $50. This was only a few days before Pass it On, so of course I checked there first, and wouldn't you know there was ONE Cooshie Booster for sale there, so I greedily snatched it up. Pricetag? FIVE dollars. It's definitely used (the previous owner had a propensity for stabbing the foam with his or her fork), but seriously, five bucks.
I also scored a set of Care Bear dominoes last time for Madelyn so she'll be less interested in interfering with the grown-ups' game of Mexican Train dominoes. A dollar. And a barely-used down sleeping bag from REI that will fit Madelyn until she's into double-digits for ten dollars.
That's just a sampling of the exciting finds in non-apparel I've made at Pass it On recently.
I have also consigned some of our gently used baby gear and clothing for the past two sales now. I'm not interested in selling at consignment stores because it is so much work for the possibility of making a small portion of the price of your items a few months down the road. For Pass it On, I enter all of my inventory through an online portal. I choose the category, size, and type a brief description. I name the price, and check boxes indicating whether I want the item discounted on the last day of the sale or not, and whether I want the item donated if it is not sold by the end or not. I like that you can make those distinctions for each individual item. Then I print the tags with barcodes, and use my fun little tagging gun I bought for $10 to attach them to my clean and pressed clothing and other items. I arrive at my chosen drop-off session and the items are inspected and accepted (usually a few things get rejected for being in the wrong season or because of a stain I didn't notice). Throughout the sale I can check what has sold online and see my earnings in real time. At the end of the sale I pick up the unsold items that I wanted returned, and there is even a "Dollar Dash" where each consignor can buy up to 20 items slated for donation at a buck each. That money is donated to the charity to help them buy larger items.
Consignors earn a minimum of 70% of your sales. By volunteering to work shifts at the sale, you can increase your commission, but I figure you have to sell over $1000 for the additional 10% earned for working 3 shifts to just equal minimum wage (which isn't actually "making" you any money if you consider what your time is worth). I actually think working at the sale would be a lot of fun, but the challenge of arranging for childcare and the substantial value I place on my time prevent me from bothering with it.
In summary, consigning is easy and fun with Pass it On. The sale is definitely worth checking out because there is a huge selection, the items are inspected for quality, and you're bound to find bargains on things you can use. There is a catch-22 here however: for the best selection you should arrive early (especially if looking for larger or more rare items like strollers or Cooshie Boosters), but you will pay the price by waiting in a very, very long checkout line. So plan the time you need to shop, plus up to an hour and a half to wait in line. My suggestion: bring a spouse or grandparent to get in line when you arrive. By the time you're done shopping, it will be time to check out! And also, if you can manage to go without your kids, it will be a much more pleasant experience.

1 comment:

Annie said...

What a great tip!


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