If it's your first time at a sale, or if you're just looking for some ways to make the experience easier, here are some tips.
1. Arrange a babysitter. It's logistically, physically, and emotionally difficult to shop these sales with toddlers and young children. The selection of toys is just too tempting for them! (A sale would make a mint by offering a babysitting room for ten dollars a kid!)
2. Make a list of exactly what you are looking for. Include items and sizes. If possible, prioritize your list by need to help decide where to go first.
3. Bring a bag. A large shopping bag will work. The big IKEA bags are great. I've even seen people carrying laundry baskets, plastic bins, or rolling suitcases!
4. Start with the hardest items. When you arrive, head for the items that usually sell quickly. Begin with equipment and large toys, both because they sell quickly and because often you can store them in a holding area and then continue shopping. Then go to shoes, which are always in demand, especially older kids' sizes and boys'.
5. Grab everything, sort later. This is a technique I learned from my cousin (thanks!). Rummage sales are first-come, first-serve events. If you're looking for size 2T pants, grab all of the pants you can and then find a place to look through them later. Since clothes are sorted on racks or tables by size, you can easily put items back without making a mess. Also, it gives you time to compare prices and tally your total.
5. Be prepared to wait in line. I've waited up to 45 minutes in line before. Bring cash to make check-out faster. Remember that cashiers are mostly volunteers, so be patient.
Rummage sales make money by charging sellers/consigners and by taking a percentage of their sales. Each organization charges differently, but they often charge a $5 to $10 fee for consigning plus 25% to 33% of the items sold. Each organization has different policies for tagging, pick-up, and payment as well.
When consigning, the items that sell best are equipment (furniture, strollers, potties, highchairs, etc.), large toys (bikes, play kitchens, etc.), shoes (especially boy's sizes 8 and up), and coats.
Items that don't sell quickly--mostly because of the large supply--are infant clothes, toys, and blankets. Also, many sales do not sell recalled cribs (ones with drop down sides, etc.) and car seats in bad condition.
Some sales offer volunteers access to the sale early as a reward for their volunteer time. If you can spare a few hours, volunteering is a good way to get the best items.
Here are times of year that Delaware County, PA, rummage sales are usually scheduled:
- Elam Church, Glen Mills, PA - First Weekend in March
- Faith Community Church, Brookhaven, PA - Second Weekend in March
- St. Timothy's Church, Aston, PA - Third Weekend in March
- Just Between Friends, Glen Mills, PA - Fourth Weekend in March
I hope you've found this list helpful, and not too intimidating! Rummage sales are really a fantastic way to get deals on baby supplies and birthday gifts. Attend one soon!