Shopping, Twin-Mom Style

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This weekend marked my MOT club’s semi-annual tag sale, and it was a doozy. The tag sale (consignment sale, yard sale, flea market, whatever your region calls it) is yet another reason to join your local MOT club, if you haven’t already.  Most clubs I know of have sales twice a year, and they’re awesome both for selling and for shopping.

It was my second time selling, and for those who have never participated in such an event, I thought I’d tell you all about ours.  First of all, you obviously have to plan ahead and get all of your items ready for sale.  Sort out the clothes by gender, size, and season.  Toss the ones with stains or missing snaps. Purge the toy room, get the high chairs out of the garage. Write out a price tag for each and every piece.  My club puts everyone’s items together (i.e. one large area for clothing, one area for toys, etc.), so your tags also need your name written clearly so you can get financial credit for the sale.

Tag sale setup

The sale takes place on a Saturday morning, so setup begins Friday night at a nearby high school cafeteria.  Racks are assembled for hanging items, tables are arranged everywhere, clotheslines are hung.  When the space is set up, you can start hauling in your items from your car (the parking lot is a sea of minivans).  And at the end of the evening, sellers get a chance to do a little early-bird shopping.  People nearly trampled each other getting to the Kettler tricycles.  I decided I had to have my friend’s Maclaren stroller.  So 15 minutes before seller shopping began, I grabbed my Peg Perego out of the back of my van, cleaned it off, and slapped a price tag on it (the same price for which I was going to buy my friend’s).  It’s easy to get caught up in the madness.  And that’s just Friday night. Don’t stay too late, chit-chatting with your friends and perusing the stacks of clothing.  The fun starts again at 6AM on Saturday.

Toys, games, and booksSaturday morning arrived.  Barely slept at all.  Still dark when we arrived at the high school.  Sellers who couldn’t come the night before arrived with even more stuff to distribute.  The mountain of clothing, especially the 0-12 month stuff, threatened to topple and we grabbed extra tables to further sub-divide the sizes.  The bookshelves collapsed overnight, so we had to reassemble and rearrange all of the books and videos.  Tables full of toys needed to be better categorized, the piles of board games and puzzles needed major straightening.

Sellers got another shot at early shopping once everything was set up and ready.  I was at the front of the line this time, and tried to pretend I had a shred of dignity remaining as I all but ran back to the large equipment area to snag a Radio Flyer double wagon.  Haha, victory is mine!

But we had to get our purchases quickly back to our cars.  All sellers are also working the sale, and people have been assigned to different areas.  Clothing, books, toys, cashier, accounting, large equipment.  This was my second time back in large equipment, which is a section with it’s own procedures, rules, and even storage so you can keep shopping without dragging around your new double stroller or swing.  Before the doors opened, it was packed to the gills with strollers, carseats, swings, high chairs, outdoor toys, and the like.

Large Equipment area

Finally, at 9:30, doors open to fellow twin club members, who get a half-hour jump start on the general public.  The line at 9:29 was well out the door.

Line to get in

Shopping is barely-controlled chaos.  No lie, nearly seven hundred people came. Unreal. The large equipment area was a madhouse.  There were four cashiers just in our part of the sale, probably another six or eight at the main exit.  The whole thing was mobbed, from toddler clothing all the way back to bouncy seats.  It was hot, it was loud, it was crowded. I won’t lie, every time I saw someone buying something of mine, I heard a little “cha-ching!” in my head. But I tried not to do too obvious of a happy dance.

Shopping chaos

It was a particularly busy and successful sale, maybe because it was a nice day out, maybe because of the crappy economy.  But there was still a line to get in at 10:30, and there was still a line to pay at noon.  It was non-stop.  It’s fun, but completely exhausting, to work the sale.  By the time it ends at 1PM, you’ve worked a fairly grueling 7-hour shift.  But hey, you get to hang out with your MOT friends, get rid of all of your stuff, and make a little cash in the meantime.

End of the sale

And yes, that last picture is what the large equipment area looks like at 12:15.  If you want a stroller or a cozy coupe, you’d better get your ass there bright and early.

As a shopper, there are bargains that can’t be beat.  Strollers for less than half their retail price. Nearly-new high chairs for $30.  Books for 50 cents, toddler jeans for three bucks.  You can probably score a whole season’s worth of clothing for under $40.  As a seller, you not only get to unload a truckload of gear and old clothing, but even after the 10% of proceeds that go to the club, you can make a nice bit of money.

When the doors closed at 1PM, I scoured the remnants of the tables for anything of mine that didn’t sell.  All I could find was one toy and a couple of assorted items of clothing (maybe 10 shirts out of the huge tub I had brought in).  I took one cute outfit of Rebecca’s home, and put the rest in the big bags to be donated.  Because I had worked Friday setup, I thankfully didn’t have to stay for the entirety of cleanup.  I got home, took some ibuprofen, and all but collapsed into bed.

It was a good day.

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9 thoughts on “Shopping, Twin-Mom Style”

  1. So glad to see this post! A few weeks ago my husband and I participated in our local sale too. It was my second time selling, and my husband’s first volunteering. It was quite a production to get all our clothes ready for the sale, packed and out the door. But for all the time and work, I loved it. I loved clearing our house and attic out, and I loved that I made more money than I spent.

    It was such an occasion for our household, it’s good to read about it here.

    Couldn’t believe how fast the best stuff went. Our club’s sale are seriously impressive. It’s run like a well oiled machine. The Swiss have nothing on a group of motivated MOMs! Last spring the sale netted $27K, last fall was $40K, and this spring was $51K.

    So worth getting into, as a seller, buyer or both!

  2. I compare club sales to the running of the brides at Filene’s basement. The second the doors open you better be prepared to do battle! (or at least know what you want) You can tell who has shopped these sales before because they come armed with laundry baskets, grab anything they might like and then spend an hour sorting through the basket to decide what they really want. I’ve only sold at my club’s last two sales but I’ve been pretty happy with the check I got back. Fortunately (?) Hubby had to work the night of both club member shops so I didn’t buy a thing. I would be in big trouble and probably not make any money if I had a chance to shop, too!

  3. Next time I am working and selling at the event for first picks and bringing a canvas back for my finds. Every time I learn something new – first time I realized you have to be there BEFORE the sale starts to get a good spot in line. :)

  4. We’re selling at our first twins club sale in a couple of months and I can’t wait to get our house cleaned out of all the infant/baby stuff! I’m curious to know whether it has made a difference whether you sell matching or two of the same items? I know it’s a possibility as far as the logistics of the sale, but I’m wondering if things sell better in pairs? My husband thinks so, but I wouldn’t think it would so I wanted to ask some experienced sellers. (I think my husband just wants to clear everything out, but I’d like to save some stuff just in case we have another child someday!) Thanks!

  5. Woot! This post was even better than I anticipated. It is still my life long ambition to attend one on these sales. One day I will escape my island and go straight to a twin sale and it will be glorious. Until that day, I will live vicariously through Goddess in Progress :)

  6. I remember those days! You absolutely can get great deals there. I remember the one time I sold I made over $300. Pretty awesome for stuff you don’t use or need anymore. I recommend it to all moms of young ones.

  7. No question – the twins sales are awesome. Ours runs so well it’s amazing – two days, and on the second day everything is half off. On the question about selling things in pairs v. singly – go for individually. I wondered the same thing when I first started selling, and put a lot of outfits on a special “matching outfits” rack at our sale. What I learned is that most people shopping will not have multiples themselves, and would never want two of the same thing (or two closely coordinating shirts or something). Those who do have twins will find the matching outfits if they want them.

  8. Just to let you know, that this post inspired me to take our spring exchange public using this same setup. Our club is pretty small, but it was quite successful with only 9 sellers and holding it in my back yard we made $600 and got rid of tons of stuff. I don’t know who is in charge of Exchange next year, but I hope to do a public sale again.

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