The key to having a great yard sale is preparation. The more you can do ahead of time, the better the resulting sale will be. Part of preparation in the age of online shopping is selling your best items online to get the best price ahead of your actual yard sale. Another outlet for pre-sale selling is the consignment store. Traditional consignment stores sell your item and give you a percentage of the profit, while resale stores pay you up front for your items and then re-sell them in the store. If you aren’t moving out of the area, and have valuable items to sell, it might be worth looking into a consignment store. However, if you have limited time and a lot to sell, a resell store is probably a better choice.

Regardless of which store you choose, list your high-priced clothing items on Facebook Marketplace or another online sale site first to get the best price. (For tips and information, check out the first post in this series How to Hold a Curated Yard Sale: Starting Your Sale Online.) If your ads on Marketplace aren’t attracting buyers, it’s time to take your clothes to a resale store. These stores will still give you a better price on clothes, books, sports equipment, and media than you will find trying to sell them at an in-person yard sale. I’ve had some success selling used clothing to Once Upon a Child and Plato’s Closet, along with a few local resell stores for adult clothing.

It’s difficult to predict just what these resell stores will purchase. I’ve seen adult sized clothes for sale at Once Upon a Child that I would never let a child wear. How they came to hang in that store, I don’t know. I’ve also carted home a container of clothing that I was sure they would accept. However, there are ways to increase the odds that these resale stores will buy your stuff.

How to Sell More to the Resale Store

Call to see if they’re accepting clothes and if so, what sizes and seasons. Like any store, these resale stores have limited space. You can save yourself time and effort by finding out ahead of time what they’re looking to buy.

Focus on Brand Named Clothing. In fact, most of the stores include a list of preferred brands on their websites if you need suggestions. It’s not that they won’t buy a shirt originating from Walmart or Target (I’ve seen those slip through), but it’s not worth crowding your container with them. Too many mediocre items can obscure the good ones and bring down the whole price. The exception to the brand only rule is clothing featuring something from pop culture like Disney characters or sports teams.

Tie your bows and button your buttons. This was advice given to us at the annual Mothers of Multiples Toys & Gear Sale when I was a member in Maryland. It means not only should the clothes be clean with no rips or stains, but also they should look presentable. Ironing is an option, but often a spritzing with Downy Wrinkle Release will do the trick. Fasten all zippers, buckles, snaps, ties, bows, and buttons. Fold everything neatly. To prepare shoes for selling, clean any dirt off the soles and give dress shoes a polish. For tennis shoes, throw the laces into the wash, even the shoes themselves if they’re simple canvas shoes. A cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol will get the white trim of Converse sneakers looking new again.

Be sure to follow store instructions about type and number of containers. Some stores will not accept clothes delivered in bags. This is to your advantage when it comes to presentation because a Rubbermaid tub or box will keep folded clothes neatly stacked. I layer donations with shoes on the bottom, then folded clothing, and finally Ziplock bags of small accessories are set on top so they aren’t lost in the stack.

Some of the stores that buy children’s clothing to resell, will also by toys, books, and baby gear. Just as you would clean and prep the clothing to get the maximum price, clean and prep these other things as well. Bag up tiny parts or pieces of games and wipe down surfaces of baby gear such as booster seats and strollers.

Hopefully by following these suggestions, the store will accept most of what you submitted. If there were items the store didn’t want, I suggest trying again either later at that store or another location. A different inventory or a different pair of eyes examining the clothes might yield a different result. If not, then your next option is to group the clothes into lots and re-list them online. Here you can incorporate some of the things that weren’t brand-named and left out of the clothes that went to the resale store. Selling clothes by the bag or box on Facebook Marketplace will still give you a better price than most in-person yard sales.

“If there were items the store didn’t want, I suggest trying again either later at that store or another location. A different inventory or a different pair of eyes examining the clothes might yield a different result.”

Just as you can sell clothing for stores to re-sell, you can do the same with books, video games, and sports equipment. For these things, I go through the same process I do with the clothes. After giving ice skates and shin guards a chance online, I haul the items to a place like Play it Again Sports, or in the case of books a used bookstore like Ed McKays Used Books. While someone with an interest in Euripides or a needing a size 6 ice skate might come to my yard sale, it’s not likely. I’m better off taking what cash I can get for them from a resale store.

Many resale stores also offer store credit in lieu of cash. The amount of credit is always more than the cash pay out, so if you’re not moving, or the store is part of a chain, this could be a better long run investment. Growing kids will always need new clothes, and what book lover could pass up new books? Another option is to make arrangements for family members or charity to use your store credit. We’re leaving my parents credit at the used book store to enjoy while we are overseas.

Once all these avenues have been exhausted, both online and at the consignment store, then whatever is left will be set aside for the yard sale. But only those items in good condition. That’s what makes this a curated yard sale! No one wants to dig through a pile of t shirts to find the one without a stain. If you wouldn’t buy it, then don’t sell it. This includes trying to justify selling a something stained or torn with the fiction that someone could mow the lawn in it. Better to put those things in the donate pile. Charity-run thrift stores can make money by selling bulk clothing, even for rags, so they won’t go to waste.

Sorting to Sell

When looking around the house for things to sell, sorting one room at a time or one category at a time keeps things organized and helps when grouping items to sell in bulk. During the year I keep a box on hand in the closet into which I drop things to sell and a bag for clothes that the girls have outgrown or no longer want. It’s an easy way to add to the “Sell” pile when you don’t have time to commit to a big sort.

When the twins were little, I did most of the sorting for them. Sentimental toys and favorite books were marked “keep,” along with anything that my mother or grandmother had sewn for them. This collection is even now in our storage unit. Potential toys to sell were weeded out by a preliminary trip to the attic. If neither one of the girls requested that toy over a period of months, then chances were good they were ready to let it go. Now that the girls are older, they sort their own clothes and toys. It’s not the most exciting process so often they’ll work on it as a team or one will keep the other company. With kids and teens, it’s important create manageable goals. Sorting a whole room is overwhelming but breaking down the task into sorting all the dragon toys, the bookshelves, or the closet is less daunting. Playing some music can also keep things moving.

“Don’t forget to celebrate while you sort! It’s not just physical work, getting rid of things is also emotionally exhausting.”

Don’t forget to celebrate while you sort! It’s not just physical work, getting rid of things is also emotionally exhausting. Take breaks. Reward your kids and yourself when you finish a task. If you can, get outside and enjoy a short bike ride, a cup of coffee, or hand out popsicles to your hard-working toy sorters. Preparing for a yard sale, especially one preceding a move, means hours indoors which can be dusty and depressing. A little fresh air is a great way to relax and regroup for the next task.  

After getting the best price by selling online and taking items to the resell store, you’re ready to hold an in-person curated yard sale. In the final post for this series, I’ll tell you how I did it and held, what several customers said was the, “most organized yard sale” they had ever seen.