Look for the perfect store for you
Not all consignment and resale stores are the same and not every store will be a good match for you. Before you dive in to consignment shopping for your kids, make a list of the children's consignment stores in your area and do a little consignment store dating. Look for stores that carry brands you love and have prices that seem reasonable to you. Other qualities that make for the perfect consignment store: racks that aren't stuffed full with too many clothes, store owners and staff that are helpful and knowledgeable about what they carry, and a selection of clothes that are in like-new condition.
Make consignment shopping routine
Once you've found your consignment store soul mate, make sure you visit on a regular basis. Stopping by once a week is the best way to find the bargains and pick up the best merchandise coming into the store. Ask the staff if they are putting new items out every day or just one specific day a week because every store has different policies. For stores that put out new items every day, shop first thing in the morning when they open to snag all the hot consignment goods. If your favorite store has a specific day of the week that they bring new items out, mark that day on your calendar and plan on visiting that morning.
Make a quick call before visiting
Looking for something specific at a consignment store? Maybe you're searching for a black dress in size 18-24 months for upcoming family pictures or a pair of rain boots that must be red for your red-obsessed 3-year old. Give them a ring before you make the trip to the store and save yourself the time and frustration of a sometimes limited consignment store selection.
If there is something specific that you're searching for, let the staff know that you're looking and they can give you a call if they happen to get one in.
Don't be afraid to buy
Sometimes being a regular consignment shopper also means being a bit of a hoarder. You are sure to find things while shopping that you fall in love with for your kids, but that are too big for them at the moment. Don't hesitate to snap it up and tuck it away for when they reach that size. Trust us when we say that you'll regret not buying that awesome pair of $20, hardly-worn Ugg boots that are three sizes too big for your preschooler. Buy a big plastic tote to keep in your child's closet at home for all of your great consignment finds -- just remember to dig through it every once in a while to pull out things that may fit.
Know your prices on gear
When shopping at consignment and resale stores for larger kid's gear items, do a little research before you go. Glance online at what the item is selling for new and what it's selling for on resale sites like Craigslist and eBay. This will give you a good idea of the going rate for a used stroller or baby swing so that you can easily spot a steal or a rip-off when you're out shopping. On those bigger purchases, don't be afraid to do a little bartering, too. It's not rude to ask for a reasonable price lower than what is listed, especially if you are a regular shopper at that store.
More on bargain shopping
Finding designer maternity clothes on a budget
Budget shopping for kids
Tips for shopping on a budget