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Kids Exchange: Tips for shopping

February 18th, 2009

While working the Kids Exchange sale in January as a volunteer, I learned a few things about both shopping and consigning. I thought I would post my amateur tips here for first timers. Stay tuned for the consigning tips…

Shopping the Sale

  • Volunteer: In my limited experience, this seems to be the number one way to find the best deals. Volunteers are allowed to shop one day before the consignors as well as an hour early on the 50% day. This means considerably shorter lines and the best picks. I had people tell me that they waited in line over 2 hours. I never had to wait longer than 20 minutes during the volunteer time slots.

  • Consign 10 or more items: If you can’t volunteer, then consigning is probably the second best way to go. Even if you are volunteering, there are benefits to consigning. First of all, you get a preview of what is for sale. Many people scope out their finds while dropping off their items. If you don’t volunteer, then you get to shop a day early. The lines can still be long, but you still get a pretty good pick of the items. I wouldn’t be surprised if half of the items for sale are gone before the public sale starts. It’s insane.
  • Bring a shopping cart: They do have very limited shopping carts available, but you are not guaranteed to be able to get one. Bring something that will suffice. I have seen people with strollers (for the loot, not the baby!), wagons, homemade clothing racks made out of PVC pipes attached to wagons, personal shopping carts, big plastic bins on wheels, etc. I made this mistake when I went to the sale last summer, but I was fortunately with someone who knew the ropes.
  • Be prepared to be there a while: Lines can potentially be long, but shopping the sale also takes some time. It’s very overwhelming. You’ll want some time and energy to sift through piles of toys and racks of clothing. Bring a snack. Bring bottles and food for the kids (or leave the kids with a sitter). Wear comfy shoes.
  • Have a plan: Kids Exchange is huge, so you will want to make a list of things you want to buy. I found it easier to attack the larger items and specific items first, then things like toys, then clothing last. It helps to know the regular prices on things so you know whether you’re getting a good deal.
  • Don’t buy items that are not 50% off on the last day: I guess that there would be exceptions to this one, but we made a point of not buying anything that wasn’t 50% off on the last day. The items are extremely picked over by this point, and it makes sense that either something is wrong with the item or it is overpriced. Sure, things can get misplaced or buried, but as a general rule, there was a reason that hundreds of others passed on that particular item.

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