Baby Clothes: Donate, Consign, or Sell?
I’ve been in a decluttering mode lately in an effort to live more simply. The items that have taken up the most space for us have been my daughter’s baby items and baby clothes. I’ve kept these because I know how expensive it would be to start over buying all these anew. However, I never had a plan as to how long to keep them if they didn’t get used right away. Before figuring out what to do with the baby items and baby clothes, donate, consign, or sell it . . . I first had to figure out if I wanted to keep anything.
Purging Baby Items
Let’s discuss the purge process. I started out by evaluating my absolute needs regarding baby items. I settled on items I used almost every day with my daughter and think life would have been difficult without them. This is different for every parent and every child, as you can tell by reading Claudia’s post on Must and Not So Must Haves For Baby. I did my best to guess what I would need with a future baby. This is what my lists of keeps and releases looked like (by releases, I mean items I was willing to release back into the baby world 🙂 ).
Swing – sometimes it was the only way to get my bad sleeper to sleep, especially when congested due to a cold.
Crib – we thought it would be of better use than a bassinet next time around.
Breast pump – pumping extra milk for daddy to feed baby was sometimes the only way I got a decent amount of sleep.
Activity center – it’s a good way to keep the baby entertained, confined, and within sight.
Bassinet – it’s so cute but not super functional. Little one never really liked it much and outgrew it in 3 months. Large babies can outgrow it in a month.
Breast feeding pillows – really any pillow can work. It’s just a matter of getting used to it. I think it’s best to learn how to breastfeed without one so one doesn’t have such a hard time doing it outside of the home.
Bouncer – safety regulations change so often, it’s probably best to just get a new one next time around if I feel I need it. We didn’t use it much with my daughter.
Walker – little one didn’t use it much. She mostly learned by walking along furniture and with our help.
Carrier toys – I haven’t really seen any baby actively play with those dangling toys you put on carriers, at least mine didn’t.
Teethers – I also haven’t seen many babies use teethers a whole lot. They love chewing on their hands, your hands, and all other things you ideally don’t want them chewing on. Next time around I’ll just figure out what baby likes and find a single thing that fits the bill.
Bottles – I had a bunch of new bottles that were given to me as gifts. I didn’t realize, until after having my daughter, babies can be picky with their bottles. I think it’s best to try a single bottle type at a time and figure out which works best before purchasing a few more. I kept a few to try out with the next little.
Car mirrors – Most are clunky and hard to fix to your back seat. I’ll just figure that out next time around all over again.
Crib bedding and room decor – I don’t know how long a future baby will be living in our bedroom . . . fancy crib bedding and room decor is just not necessary, although it’s very cute. Plus my taste changes so I might not like the same bedding and decor next time around.
Purging Baby Clothes
Then I moved on to clothing . . . that was so much harder! Clothes from newborn to 6 months, I simply passed on to my friend for her new baby. Easy . . . if I need it, I’ll ask for some of it back, if not . . . out of sight, out of mind. Clothes 6-24 months I tried really hard to pick my favorite outfits. My list of favorites was pretty large to be honest . . . but I did manage to purge some out. I also took out the most worn items and least expensive ones to replace. I separated the clothes by condition and size. I was then ready for the next step, deciding whether to donate, consign, or sell.
I’ve definitely learned the pros and cons of the options for releasing baby items and baby clothes: donate, consign, or sell. I’d like to take a little bit of time to discuss those options with you in case you are ever in the same situation.
I’m listing donation first because is you don’t have a monetary need for selling baby items and clothing, it’s always best to lend a helping hand to someone who needs it. Even if you’re passing things on to a friend who you know would appreciate it and have use for the items, I think that’s always the best route. There are a ton of places you can donate to; I like the local food bank best as an option for these types of items. If you do donate to a non profit, you can write off the donation for tax purposes. The monetary benefit for that is pretty much equivalent to the tax bracket you are in. For example, if you donate $1000 worth of items and clothing and you are in the 25 percentile tax bracket. Your tax benefit will be $250 at the end of the day. You should keep itemized donation receipts for your tax records. Each item needs to be assigned a monetary value per IRS guidelines.
Consignment is pretty much the sale of used items to or through a store. I prepared a number of items for a consignment sale called Just Between Friends. It sets up semi-annually at a local gymnasium. Let me tell you . . . . it was tons of work. The online requirements stated that the clothes needed to be cleaned, and preferably ironed. They had to be hung and labeled in a specific way. The task seemed simple enough but took maybe 10 hours of prep for 60 or so items. The clothes gets inspected by “volunteers” who are really your competing consignors helping out in return for a higher profit. The inspection is highly subjective and could end up in your items getting rejected. I personally had a bad experience with my inspector although in the end the items got accepted for sale. At the end of the day, I made a whopping $61. Yeah, totally not worth it. I priced things at the recommended 30% of retail value and then got to keep 60% of that.
I also took some items to a children’s consignment store called Once Upon A Child. There, I learned that each location is a franchise subject to the owner’s requirements. I learned that clothes under 12 months of age would not be considered unless it was an outfit. Clothes for children older than 12 months has to be impeccable. Same goes for toys and baby items. They did take 11 pairs of shoes for which I got a whopping $15. After doing the math, I figured out they determine the value of the item based on values assigned to donations for tax purposes. Once they have that value, they offer you 30% of that donation value for the purchase of the baby wear and 40% for baby items. They, of course, increase the price for resale at their store. So say you may have otherwise donated a pair of shoes valued at $4 donation; they will offer you $1.20. The donation value in itself is likely 30% of the retail value. So for a pair of shoes that may be “like new” and worth $13 brand new, you will be getting $1.20 for them at a consignment store. I wasn’t thrilled about that value. I could have gotten $1 in tax benefit and had the satisfaction of helping someone out.
There are some online consignment options that I no longer had the energy to explore. A good number of them are listed at Consignment Mommies dot Com. When deciding which route to go, just remember to factor in the work you have to invest in getting the items ready, the fees associated with consignment through the given site, and the final percentage off of the sale you get to keep for each item.
Craigslist and Facebook Resale:
I’ve always been a fan of craigslist, although I admittedly didn’t give that a shot this time around. I highly recommend trying that out. I did try Facebook yard sale groups. If you are on Facebook, just do a search for groups with you area code, city and/or “yard sale, garage sale, sell, kids, babies” in the search term. For example, for me, I would look for “916 Sell”, “Folsom Kids”, etc. Make sure your home town is listed on your profile so the group administrator can verify your location. Then request to join the group.
These groups are made up of people in the given city and perhaps surrounding community looking to buy, sell, or trade items. Some groups are specific to baby items and clothes. I have found this to be the most useful for me for both baby items and baby clothes. I set the price I think is fair, which is around 30% of the retail value. A person simply comments “interested” on my post if they want the item. This works fairly well because you know the person is from your community and will likely follow through with the sale or purchase. The person can get booted out of the group or pointed out for un-ideal behavior. You arrange to meet, drop off, or pick up . . . and done!
We have a yearly neighborhood garage sale that thankfully, someone else organizes. We simply sign up. This year most of our items were baby items and clothes. We found that high ticket items such as the bassinet and outdoor play structure sells well. I priced these items at 30% of retail value and since realized I probably could have sold them for more on Facebook. It really depends on the item. Clothes and smaller items get pretty much ignored at garage sales unless they are almost new and nearly free. I priced clothes at $.50 per piece and nada. At that point, from a monetary and personal satisfaction perspective, it’s preferable to donate.
So in summary, when deciding what is best for baby items and baby clothes: donate, consign, or sell . . . I think it is best to donate baby items and baby clothes. It’s the simplest thing to do, helps others, and gives you a tax benefit. If you could use a few extra bucks, then I recommend going through Facebook groups and/or Craigslist. Garage sales would be my third option. Consignment would be my last due to the amount of effort and small monetary return. You’re busy moms, your time is worth lots! Do what gives you the greatest return for your time.