Friday, October 8, 2010

Advice and Tips for sellers and shoppers at the upcoming CMOTC sale

CMOTC member and veteran seller and shopper, Laure J., provides really detailed and priceless advice for the successful sale of your product. If you are selling, you will benefit from reading this. She also offers some advice to shoppers, which is also worth the read!


When the sale is over, we all want to be looking forward to receiving a nice check, not sorting through a bin filled with unsold items. Here are some suggestions from a sale veteran to maximize your check and minimize your unsold items:

1) Read the official sale guidelines.

2) Carefully inspect the items you’re thinking of selling. Don’t assume an item is in saleable condition just because your child wore or played with it a few months ago. We don’t always notice the wear and tear to items we see all the time. Make sure you have good lighting when inspecting clothing – it’s hard to see spit-up and grease stains in a dimly lit basement or guest room. Clip dangling threads that will unravel a hem or cause the loss of a button.

3) Sort items to separate unsalable items before tagging them, not after the sale. Discard or donate clothing and bedding with obvious stains, major wear, rips, broken zippers, blown-out knees, and the like. Buyers usually are willing to tolerate a certain amount of wear in play clothes, jeans, and jackets but many find it hard to overlook stains or other damage to dressy, special occasion wear.

  • Discard or donate shoes – especially ordinary play shoes – that have worn soles or heels, scuffed toes, stains, or overall soiling. Snow boots can have a bit more wear than shoes. Make sure items are clean, especially the lug soles on boots and cleats. Pin or tie shoes together (use string or cord through the eyelets or buckles; don’t just tie shoelaces together or fasten one strap to the other). It’s also OK to put shoes in plastic bags.

  • Check to see that games, puzzles, building sets, and toys that are missing essential pieces. No one wants to buy a game without enough pieces to play or a puzzle with missing pieces. If a missing piece isn’t critical, tag the item to let buyers know what is included and what is not. Did you find the charger or the case that goes with handheld toy you’re selling? After you’ve checked them, tape boxes or bags closed so pieces aren’t lost in transit or during the sale. It sounds obvious, but untaped boxes show up at every sale.

  • Check items that plug in or run on batteries to ensure they are in working condition.

  • Think twice about selling “free” and promotional items such as fast food toys and camp T-shirts – demand for these tends to be low.

  • Also think twice about anything you’re planning to tag at 50 cents. If the item is in good condition consider whether it can be combined with one or more other items and sold as a group (several onesies or t-shirts or a bag of small toys). If you’re pricing the item low because it’s worn or faded, consider donating it instead.

  • Choose similar items when combining items to package together for sale. I always wonder when I see a bag with board books and chapter books mixed together – buyers looking for books in only one of those categories are likely to pass.

4) If it’s saleable but dirty, clean it. Wipe off sticky fingerprints, dust or cobwebs from storage, and accumulated grime. Some small items can be placed in the dishwasher or washing machine. Magic eraser type cleaners are great at removing marks from plastic toys to give them that like-new look. Buyers are especially sensitive to dirt on feeding related items (e.g., high chairs, boosters, and bottles), diaper pails, potty gear, and infant toys.

5) Price your items in view of condition, quality, demand – and the all-important “Do I ever want to see this again?”

  • Condition and quality are easy. Items in better condition will sell for more than items that are worn, faded – or just not as clean as the item next to it; items that are or are perceived to be of high quality will sell for more than items of lower quality.
    * Name brands such as Nike, Gymboree, Hanna Andersson, and Justice usually sell for better prices than medium-range brands (e.g., Kohl’s, Sears, and JCPenney) which in turn sell for better prices than discount brands. If you have a boutique brand item that might not be readily recognized, consider attaching a catalog or internet description with price.
    * If you have space, save the boxes from item that require assembly, are floppy (such as infant carriers), or have a lot of pieces and repackage these items at sale time. Boxes help buyers to see what the item looks like and make it feel more like new. If you don’t have the box, consider attaching a photo or a picture from a catalog.
    * Attach directions, accessories, and spare parts if you have them to make items feel more like new and make buyers more confident that they can build or operate the item they are buying.
    * If you have a pricey item such as a Pottery Barn furniture piece or high-end stroller, consider attaching a catalog description or Internet printout that shows the price of a new item to help buyers appreciate the great deal they’d be getting by buying your item.
  • Supply and demand, generally and at sales like ours, affect the price buyers are willing to pay. Here are some factors to consider:
    * Demand for Infant clothing in small sizes is generally lower than for larger sizes (e.g., 9 months and up) – small sizes often are received as gifts and are not worn long enough to show wear. Price onesies, stretchy sleepers and other everyday wear low if you want them to sell – buyers will have lots of these to choose from. On the other end of the spectrum, teen girl clothing can be hard to sell than smaller sizes because many girls this age like to choose their own clothes but won’t be at the sale. Unless you’re selling the most popular brands, consider pricing these items a bit lower than clothing for elementary school-aged children.
    * Shirts with college, pro sports, or musical groups logos are popular but demand for other school and team shirts and souvenir shirts is low. Unless your child is a pro soccer player, there won’t be much interest in his or her team shirts. Ditto the shirt grandma brought your child from Myrtle Beach. If you decide to sell these, price them low. Better yet, donate them.
    * Shoes are trickier to fit than t-shirts and PJs so buyers tend to look for bargains here, if they look at all. Even reasonably priced new shoes sometimes remain unsold. Price shoes low unless you want to see them in your unsold pile.
    * Bedding ensembles generally don’t sell well. Expectant moms often are looking for a particular pattern or theme, it can be hard to appreciate what an ensemble looks like when it’s bundled together or stuffed into a bag, and bedding can be awkward to carry if the buyer has more shopping to do. Tape a photo of your nursery or a picture cut from a catalog to the bag to help buyers visualize what the bedding looks like. An attractive price can motivate a buyer to lug that bundle.
    * Fewer and fewer families have VHS tape players and many of our members still have large collections of tapes to sell. Buyers will have a huge selection of VHS tapes to choose from. Price them low if you want buyers to choose yours.
    * There will be many copies of the “standard” pregnancy and parenting books for sale. Price them low so buyers choose yours.
    * Items in high demand can command a better price. Large items like climbing structures, tricycles, wagons, and strollers almost always sell well. Clothing items that sell well include jeans and play pants in good condition (especially boys), outerwear, OSU items, holiday/party dresses, name- brand outfits, PJs in the fall, and swimsuits in the spring. Building sets such as Legos, K’Nex, and Lincoln Logs, quality infant toys, and preschool DVDs are great sellers.

  • If you’re selling items that you absolutely will NOT be taking home, try to price them at or under what other sellers will be charging. Consider printing out some extra tags for the higher dollar items so you can adjust your prices during set-out or if the items do not sell Friday evening. Prices can be changed only by swapping one preprinted tag for another – the bar code scanners can’t recognize handwritten markdowns.

6) Tagging:

  • Everyone has a different strategy for entering tags. Some bring a bin of items to the computer (or take a laptop to the bin) and enter each item individually. Some enter tags based on a list. I think it’s faster to handle most items only when affixing the printed tags so I create “generic” tags at several price points in each category I’m working on. For example, if I’m tagging boys play clothes I know I’ll price most of them between $1 and $3 so I'll select boys clothing as the category, type in CLOTHING as the description, and then print a dozen (or two) tags at $1, $2 and $3. I remove an item from my bin, decide which price tag I’ll use, mark the size on the tag by hand, affix the tag to the item, and more it to the tagged items bin. I make a special tag for any item I want to price at an amount that’s not on my generic tags.

  • School-age kids can help by cutting tags. Or put a few sheets in the car with a pair of scissors for school car line or waiting during after-school lessons or sports practices.

  • Print tags early. Access to the tagging site generally is cut off at midnight the day before the sale.

  • Print some extra tags for items you remember at the last minute or it you decide to change any prices.

7) Organizing items for set-out:

  • Organize clothing items by size and by gender. This allows you to pick up a stack and go down a row of sale table, putting size 8 boys shirts on one table, size 10 shirts on the next, and size 12 shirts on the one after that. I put one piece items and PJs in separate stacks from shirts and tops because these are usually located on the opposite ends of the tables from tops and it’s easier to go straight down the other end of the tables to drop of PJs than to walk between the tables. For bigger items I separate sizes by alternating the direction of the clothes in the stack (e.g., for one size I stack with the fold toward me and for the next I stack with the fold to one side), for smaller items I use plastic bags to keep items separate.
  • Keep special category items (Jack & Jill outfits, sports logo items, Halloween costumes) separate from regular clothing.

  • Organize non-clothing items by category – board games with board games, infant toys with infant toys. I use plastic bags to separate categories if needed.

  • Organize special category items

8) Setting out:

  • If you arrive early, stage your items along a hallway wall as space permits until the sale area is ready. Don’t block doors or aisles.

  • Set out your own items or arrange for a friend to help. Don’t dump and run. “Dumped” items will be moved aside (for example, under a sale table) and could remain there for the entire sale if no one else has time to set them out.

  • Set out your largest items first. This clears hallway space for those arriving later and helps the sale committee and set-out assistants adjust the space needed for various categories of items.

  • Put items in the appropriate space. Wooden trains are more likely to sell if they’re in the area marked “trains” rather than tossed on the first table you or your helper(s) pass. If you’re not sure, ask a set-out assistant.

  • Check for tagless items as you set out your items.

  • Larger items such as Lego and train tables are sometimes placed at the end of the regular sale tables. Set your items on the sale table, not an item another member is trying to sell.

  • Bring a dolly or hand cart if you have one. Tape one of your sale tags to the frame to make it easy to track down if you let someone else use it.

  • Tuck a “seller’s emergency kit” in your vehicle just in case – extra preprinted tags, tape, pins, a pen or marker, and anything else you might need.

  • Leave at least one large bin with your sale number marked on it (for sorting unsold times on Saturday) in the area designated.

9) Shopping:

  • Wear comfortable shoes and a lightweight shirt. The sale rooms get hot no matter what the weather. Leave your coat in the car. If you can live without a purse, leave it in the car too and stock your pockets with tissues, lip balm, a check or two, and some cash.

  • Bring a large shopping bag. If you’re pretty sure you want an item, add it to your bag. You won’t be able to find it later if you pass it by and then change your mind. If you do change your mind, please return the item to the area where you found it promptly so it’s available for purchase by others. Don’t leave a pile of rejected items for another member to clean up.

  • Bring a tape measure if you have a hard-to-fit child. Forgot your tape measure and want to measure something? A dollar bill is about 6 inches long.

  • Head for the items on your list that are in high demand, for example, big ticket items and building kits. It’s fair game to scope out what others are setting out while you’re setting out your items but it’s not fair more or hide items you’re interested in.

  • If your budget permits and you see a great deal, don’t be a afraid to buy ahead. A child wearing size 4 jeans will almost certainly need size 6 jeans someday – probably sooner than you think. Stock up and save.


Thank you Laurie!!


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