GUIDE: Buying Children’s Clothing, Footwear, Accessories, Toys & Equipment for Resale




This “Smart” buying guide reflects the experience and input of dozens of children’s resale shop owners around the country.  It was last updated in early 2017; thus some of the entities identified may no longer exist.  Smart Buying covers the policies, practices, methods, techniques and systems for making the resale buyer’s job manageable and for assuring that the merchandise purchased is both saleable and profitable. While the NextGen pricing system should bring desired profit margins, effecting the methods and techniques integral to productive buying comes with practice.

Buying New Merchandise

General Advice

We’re always on the lookout for new items that our customers will love to buy, that will sell well enough and can be sold at ample margins (50%+) margins. However, we buy new merchandise for other purposes as well:

  • Meets a common need that cannot be met through resale (Ex. teethers, socks, diapers)
  • New name-brand items can elevate the image of the store
  • Draws in new customers, some of whom may not see themselves as resale shoppers (That is, until they get inside!)
  • Brings back old customers more frequently

Start With Small Quantities Taste before swallowing

All of us have purchased new items that for various reasons didn’t sell. Sometimes we succumb to persistent salesmen, other times we hear from fellow owners that a particular item is really working for them.

Every Market is Different

What sells in one location will not always sell in another, even within the same metropolitan area.

For example, one of us located in New England heard reports from a store on the West Coast of a terrific selling item: a particular line of creams designed to erase pregnancy stretch marks. On this news, the New England store jumped right in and spent hundreds on several cases (minimum order quantity). While the specialty creams may have sold well in sunny California, they didn’t sell at all in the New England store’s cooler climate. Some mice took a liking to the cream and devoured far more than was ever sold.

Minimum Order Quantity

The goal is to buy the smallest quantity you can before jumping in. If the minimum order quantity is more than we feel we can handle, we sometimes look to fellow storeowners to share the order.

Wholesalers and Distributors

We’ve listed the suppliers of some of our best-selling and more profitable (100% markup) new items.

Apparel and Accessories (broad)

  • Mudpie


  • The Toysmith Group – Variety of toys. []
  • Castle Toy, Inc. – Variety of toys. []
  • Melissa and Doug – Wooden Toys and Puzzles, Art Supplies [

Gloves and Mittens

  • Becker Glove, International – Gloves and Mittens [] Veranda Enterprises


  • Roo Bibs []
  • Rain Drops Baby []

Socks /Tights / leg warmers

  • Goldbug, Inc. – Hosiery, Footwear and Harnesses []
  • Dimples – Infant Socks []
  • Jefferies Socks – Children’s Socks and Tights []
  • Leg warmers, socks, tights –
  • Socks & Tights –


  • The Kalencom Corp – Portable Potties


  • Every Little Detail – Hair Goods []
  • Funkist, Inc. – Children’s Hair and Fashion Accessories

Specialty Clothing and Accessories

  • Reflectionz, Inc. – Dancewear, Dress-up, Tights, Accessories []
  • iPlay – Beachwear, Sunglasses, Rainwear and Bibs []
  • Halo Heaven Ballet tutus, pettiskirts, bows, wings …


  • Creative Changes, Inc. – Children’s Chore Charts []
  • Sunglasses. Apparel candy
  • Cazella Innovations – Toddler Waist Cinches –
  • Boogaloo Bracelets
  • No Throw – Baby Bottle Tethers
  • Cups, spouts, …
  • Multi purpose travel wipes
  • Baby Wraps
  • Threeacreskids – Toy/sippy cup leashes
  • RaZbaby -Self-closing Pacifiers
  • kids can chew on Mom’s necklace/bracelet
  • WysiWipes biodegradable, disposable hypoallergenic tablet-sized wipes

National Liquidators

We’ve learned it can be worth checking the websites of national liquidators every few weeks for merchandise that can fill holes on the floor.  Some liquidators:

  • Eastern Off Price – Children’s Clothing and Accessories []
  • Dollar Days – Children’s Clothing, Accessories and Toy Overstock []
  • Closeout Central – Children’s Clothing and Accessories []

Liquidator Pitfalls

We always watch out for:

  • Cases or pre-packs that are listed as containing a range of sizes, but in fact are skewed heavily to one-size. It can be difficult to sell many of the same item in one-size.
  • Defective merchandise. Sometimes the items are seconds or flawed, and not advertised as such.
  • Off-brands misrepresented by the liquidator as name brands.

Liquidators do attempt to offload merchandise in these ways, but they are also interested in our return business. We have learned to be clear with the liquidator from the start that we will return merchandise that is defective or not as advertised. .

Buying Overstock from Local Stores

Area chain stores and local children’s shops can be a good source of better brand clothing, and sometimes toys and equipment. These stores at times find themselves with more than they can sell.

Which Stores Will Sell Overstock?

The shops willing to sell us overstock aren’t limited to locally-owned independent store owners. Some chain stores, such as Gymboree, also sell us overstock. Chains that don’t, such as Gap, hold periodic sales with huge discounts. We buy items at these discounts, and can mark them up 100% and still move them well.

These same shops can go out of business, When they do, they may come to us as instead of a liquidator. While we are more selective than liquidators, we pay more.  For this reason, some closing stores will first have their closing or clearance sales, then sell to us, and only then call the liquidators.

Overstock Pricing

We’ve found that most shops are willing to sell their overstock for 20-25% of retail price, 40-60% of the wholesale price. We price these items for double the amount paid.  As a rule, we generally pay them at or a little more than the NextGen Pricing System suggested ‘Max’ prices.  Keeping the shop’s price tags on the items in order to show the item’s original price helps them sell. We black out the shop’s name if we must, but we try not to remove the price tags.

Contact Them First

We do our best to let area shops know our interest in purchasing the overstock. We have been rewarded for our efforts.

We send postcards to local stores found online or in the Yellow Pages. We address them to the owner/manager of the store and urge them to contact us with overstock. The postcards are short and to the point.

Sample Postcard Text

Just a note to let you know that we are always looking for overstock. We pay 40-60% of wholesale. Would love to hear from you. Jane Doe Owner, Best Ever Children’s Shop 2001 Ventura Highway 555 555-5555.

Buying Resale Merchandise

The challenges facing the buyer of resale children’s goods are far greater than those facing the buyers of these goods new. The resale buyer must select from among hundreds and hundreds of different types and brands of children’s wear, toys and equipment—numbers dwarfing those considered by even the largest retail buyers. The resale buyer must purchase these items one by one, must assess their currency, condition and recall status, and must do so in a matter of seconds.

Contrast this with the new-buyer’s tradeshow viewing of samples and lots offered by vendors. Consider the relative ease of dealing with competing vendors, poised to sell, price-lists in-hand when compared with the resale buyer’s challenge of finding, attracting, educating and finally satisfying sellers with the buyer’s price.

Finally, think of the work involved in tagging, labeling, hanging and packing resale items for sale, relative to that involved with the pre-hung/packaged merchandise delivered by commercial vendors.

Buying used merchandise involves deciding what and when to buy, what and when to pay for it, finding sellers from whom to buy. It involves managing seller expectations, and managing the buying process so that it is both efficient and successful.

What We Buy

We buy what sells most quickly, and gives us the best margins. We can’t always predict what will be our best sellers and worst sellers, but we certainly can learn by monitoring our inventory turnover, and altering our buying accordingly.

Every store buys a little differently. There are 2 factors that weigh heavily in what we buy: Community Affluence and Proximity of Big Box Stores

Community Affluence

What we sell is a result of what our communities bring us. The more upscale our communities, the more upscale the toys and clothes we receive. All of our stores are located in upper-middle class neighborhoods, because convenient access for sellers who bring quality items is key.

Buyers will travel a lot further than sellers. In the movie Field of Dreams, the prophecy was, “Build it [baseball stadium] and they [baseball legends] will come.” The resale prophecy is, “Build a source of valued brands and they (shopping legions) will come.”

Proximity of Big Box Stores

The proximity of competing stores often dictates what will sell. If a Wal-Mart, or other big box store with inexpensive children’s items is nearby (within 20 minutes), we don’t carry much new stock. At other stores, where such alternatives are at some distance, we might carry a larger stock of new items.

One Store’s Distant Wal-Mart Strategy

One store, located in an upper-class suburb, carries and sells many low-priced gates, car seats and umbrella strollers—all purchased directly from the Wal-Mart 20 minutes away. Delivery of the items is free under Walmart’s “Site to Store” program, and the 25% margins are manageable. Having these items on hand brings new customers into the shop, and busy parents appreciate the convenience.

Nearby Walmart Strategy: “Renting”

“Renting” (instead of selling) bigger ticket “Wal-Mart” items is a technique some store owners are using to achieve profitable margins and sales volumes on larger toys and equipment, maternity, and boys dresswear. “Rentable” toys and equipment are perfect for grandparents, visitors and others in temporary need. “Rentable” maternity dresswear, boys blazers and suits are perfect for one-time special occasions, e.g. weddings, photographs, and extended family get-togethers. We do this through our “Buyback Programs.”

Nearby Walmart Strategy: “Out-Branding”

Some owners with Wal-Marts nearby choose to carry new upscale brands that are not available at discount big box stores. This is done to elevate the image of the store, and not necessarily to markedly increase sales volume.

Getting Upscale Supply – We get supplies of upscale brands without sacrificing margins or sales volume by seeking overstock from national liquidators, as well as local chains and boutiques.


We buy clothing from sizes newborn to 12.  Tween sizes (14-16) do not generally sell well in a “Children’s” space; i.e., tweens do not see themselves as children.  Some store owners choose not carry maternity sizes 10 and 12 because sales of these sizes is relatively slow.


Some stores carry maternity clothing, too. Maternity wear has the advantage of drawing future children’s wear shoppers to our stores. Some of us purchase maternity clothing, at least the dressy outfits, on consignment because maternity clothing costs more than children’s clothing and the styles change more quickly. As a rule, it is best to stick with more casual maternity wear.

What We Don’t Buy

What not to buy is easier to remember than what to buy. It’s still a long list. Take a look at a representative list. You might want to tweek this list and adopt it as your own. Items we do not buy fit into one of 3 categories: Recalled or Risky items, poor quality items, or specialty items.

Recalled or Risky Items– We can’t sell (and do not buy) these items because the Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC) or state regulation prohibits their sale, or they raise liability concerns.

Poor Quality Items – These items are outdated or in such poor condition that they tarnish the store’s image as an upscale resale shop.

Specialty Items – These items are simply too difficult to sell or won’t sell at a profitable price. Examples include stroller carry bags for air travel and bassinet attachments for Bugaboo strollers. Specialty items also include vintage toys. While you might sell them online, even for a premium; they will not sell for a premium if at all at the store–as few collectors count among your customers.

Recalled Items

Items that cannot be sold include:

Products that have been recalled by Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and in the case of car seats, by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA). These agencies issue email notifications at the time products are recalled.

Recall notifications relating to clothing, footwear, toy and equipment categories may be readily identified in the NextGen Pricing System.  When entering items, simply select the Category of interest and press the [Checkit] button. If there are recalls in effect for the category, a Recall page will appear listing the notifications for that Category, They are ordered alphabetically by manufacturer (label); clicking on the Notification of interest will bring up the actual notice with details: safety issue, model number(s) affected, consumer options (e.g, refunds, calling for retrofits, … .

The vast majority of recalled clothing items are concerned with two issues: sleepwear that has not passed the federal flammability standards and clothing with drawstrings at the neck or waist.  These recalls can be readily identified with the naked eye. For this reason, while they may be found as just explained, there is no need to waste the time; avoid buying them or remove the drawstrings.

It is often the case with some categories of equipment that while some models of the item under a particular brand have been recalled, others are available for sale. When this is the case, a $sign appears to the left of the CPSC or NHTSA hyperlink. Click on the $ sign to view a page showing retail prices for the item. You may also access a google page to explore prices for the category by clicking on the [Shop] hyperlink at the top of each Recall Page, or by returning to the Add Items screen, entering the brand name and pressing [Checkit].

Most owners simply do not accept recalled items. However, some make an exception for popular equipment–specifically, when a recall kit (retrofit) is available from the manufacturer that renders the equipment safe or where the manufacturer offers substantial credits in exchange for the recalled item.

Of course, we subtract the value of the time we will be spending on the recall from our pay price. Typically, we alert the customer to the fact that the item has been recalled, indicate the price we would pay for it if they handle the recall process themselves, and offer to take it as is at a steep discount. Most gladly accept the discount to avoid the hassle.

Risky Items

Many store owners do not sell high risk items, specifically cribs and car seats. Cribs and car seats have a higher risk of recall, and the store selling them can potentially be held liable for injuries associated with improper setup and use. It can be difficult to find insurers willing to issue policies to stores selling car seats and cribs.

Despite the “risk,” and in view of the profit, some stores choose to sell cribs and car seats. The NextGen Recall monitoring system presently covers Car Seat recalls, but not Crib recalls. There have been over 800 CPSC crib-related recall notifications just in the past five years.

Car Seats

Acceptable car seats should have:

  • a manufacturer label indicating that the date of manufacture &/or expiration date, and the expiration date should be no less than 2 years from the date the car seat is being purchased for resale.  If the only the date of manufacture appears, enter “Car Seat Expiry” in the Category field and click the [Checkit] button.  A list of car seat expiration periods by type of car seat and brand will appear from which you can calculate the expiration date..
  • Infant car seats must be pristine—new parents are understandably picky. All seats must be clean with no warping, cracks, worn or frayed straps
  • manufacturer’s instructions help; copying a set from the manufacturer’s website helps.
  • all of its parts – harness straps, harness clip, seat cover, tether, padding, shield and bolts

To further protect themselves, some stores have both the sellers and buyers of car seats sign a warrant vouching for their safe condition and knowledge of proper use–The Warrant form is built into Liberty as part of the pricing system and is covered in the Buyer Training. They also let purchasers know that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides general instructions on car seat installation.


Beginning on June 28, 2011, all cribs sold in the United States have had to meet the new federal requirements issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Any crib manufactured before July 23, 2010 cannot be compliant. The date that a crib was manufactured should be located on the crib, generally somewhere on the mattress board. A crib that was manufactured between 7/23/10 and 6/28/11 may be compliant but there must be a certificate of compliance (COC) from the crib’s manufacturer/retailer to show that the crib meets the new standards. The COC must state that the crib meets the following standards, 16 CFR 1219 or 16 CFR 1220. Accordingly, only accept cribs for resale that have been manufactured on or after June 28, 2011. Cribs manufactured from July 23, 2010 to June 28, 2011 may be consigned if the consignor provides a certificate of compliance from the crib manufacturer or retailer. Do not accept cribs manufactured prior to July 23, 2010 under any circumstance.

Poor Quality Items

We don’t buy items that are outdated or in such poor condition that they tarnish the store’s image as an upscale resale shop

Specialty Items

We don’t buy specialty items (e.g. stroller carry bag for air travel, bassinet attachment for bugaboo stroller). They are simply too slow to sell or won’t sell at a profitable price.

When We Pay

We all buy outright, paying cash or store credit for resale items upfront. Buying outright allows us to accumulate inventory more quickly, to pay sellers less for each item, and doesn’t require as much record keeping and time with customers as consignment. Some of us buy selected items on consignment as well.


As a rule, there are 3 types of merchandise that some of us buy on consignment: 1) dressy maternity clothing, 2) strollers and joggers, and 3) large furniture, equipment and outdoor toys.

Maternity Clothing – We purchase maternity clothing on consignment to avoid getting stuck with high-priced items if they don’t sell.

Strollers and Joggers – We purchase strollers and joggers, particularly high-end models, on consignment to avoid the problem of joggers and strollers that are returned by customers because they do not work properly. Oftentimes, problems aren’t discovered until the stroller/jogger has been road-tested.

Large Equipment, Outdoor Toys and Furniture – We purchase some large equipment, outdoor toys and furniture on consignment to save space. Smaller stores can take these items on consignment, and sell them in their online store without ever taking possession. They rely on pictures provided by the seller and affidavits that the items are clean, free of defects and in good working order.

We personalize, print up and use a variation of the NextGen Consignment Agreement Template which consignors are asked to sign. We provide a copy to the consignor and keep the original in a consignor file arranged by consignor last name.

When we buy

Most of us buy all seasons all the time as we are able to sell nearly all we buy. However, we may not pay what we would and when we would for off-season items. There is a cost to storing these items and a convenience value to the seller when we accept them. Accordingly, we might:

  • Pay less for off-season. From 10% less for favored sellers and things (A Brands) to as much as 50% less for lesser brands and less-favored sellers, and for large items, e.g. joggers, sleds, that take up a lot of storage space.
  • Not pay cash for off-season purchases. Pay with store credit as opposed to cash, and without the 20% store credit premium we routinely offer customers for in-season items
  • Be more selective. Continue to purchase the better brand items that sell faster and enjoy higher margins, but pass on the lower priced and low-turnover items.

Winter Season purchases are from June 1 – Dec 31; summer Season purchases, from Jan 1 – May 31.

Finding sellers–primary and secondary sources

It is usually easier to find sellers than to find buyers. But that’s not to say “it’s easy”, and in some locations it may simply not be true. Be as aggressive as you must to be fully stocked.

Primary Sources

Our primary sources of used merchandise are parents and grandparents. Some have shopped with us before, others are responding to our advertising. Some are customers already, others become customers, and some sell but don’t buy. We tap into these primary sources in 4 ways: advertising, customer referrals, parent groups and making selling attractive.

  1. Advertising

Our first goal is to tell prospective sellers that they can bring us their kids’ outgrown clothing, toys and equipment. This means advertising.

Places we run ads to reach new customers/sellers:

  • Internet
  • Local Newspapers – In the Garage Sale or Yard Sale section
  • Parents Newspapers – In local parents newspaper or on their website
  • Newsletters – Online or print newsletters of non-profit and for-profit parent groups
  • Posters – 8.5”x11” posters around local playgrounds, pre-schools and elementary schools
  • Flyers on Cars – Placed on windshields of cars in parking lots of Toys R’ Us, Chuck E. Cheese, fairs and carnivals (check town ordinances)
  • Flyers via Mail – Mailed to local businesses, such as day care providers, pre- schools, dance classes. Tip: Offer a bonus to the seller and to the business for every seller that brings in the flyer. Remember to print the business name on the flyer.
  • Cards via Mail and Customer Emails- We’ve found the best time for a direct mail initiative is when sellers are ripe to sell and sales are waning, i.e. after the holidays. Our best results are with mailings for Halloween costumes and toys just after Halloween, and for holiday clothing and toys just after Christmas/Hanukkah. We offer generous time-limited store credit bonus offers to encourage sellers to promptly spend their proceeds.
  • Facebook posts

Our ads are always short and to the point.

  • Sample Ad for New Sellers #1

“Why wait? Sell your used kids stuff to us now! We pay cash. Call today (555)


  • Sample Ad for New Sellers #2

“Garage sale… Why bother! We’ll pay cash for your kids’ gently used clothing,

toys and equipment today. Call (555) 555-5555”

We resist being too wordy, dropping connecting words whenever possible. For example:

Are your closets over-run with kids stuff? Want cash?

Sell to us NOW! – help stock our shelves before we open.

The “ABC Children’s Resale Store”

123 Main Street – located near the ABC grocery store

Sell Monday or Tuesday by appointment

Sell Wednesday thru Saturday; walk-in anytime between 10 and 4

Targeting Current Customers

We offer bonuses to current customers to start selling, or encouraging their friends to sell.

Sample Ads for Current Customers

  • Buy and Sales Receipt Messages. Offer a coupon to first-time sellers already in the store’s email system. For example, “ off on purchases of or more.”
  • Sales Receipt Message. The receipt is also a good place to remind people of what you really need, like shoes, boys sizes 5-8. One of us encourages customers to bring in costumes in November (right after Halloween); not only does it get them more costumes, but more November customers as well. We continue to be amazed at how well such receipt reminders work.

Emails – Send emails to current buyers and sellers with offers like those above.

  1. Customer Referrals

Referrals from current sellers are the most convincing referrals we get. Referrals come from satisfied sellers, and we offer them an added incentive to send friends our way.

Thank You Emails to Generate Referrals

We send each seller a thank you note by email. In the email, we offer a store credit for each new seller that comes to us via their recommendation.

Sample Thank You Email for First-Time Sellers

Just a note to Thank You, [Name], for selling to us today. You have such wonderful things! We appreciate you taking the time. Hope to see you again before too long.

If you have any friends or family with beautiful things like yours, kindly send them our way. As you know, we ask all new sellers where they heard of us. If a new seller mentions you, we’ll promptly email you a store credit for use on your next visit as a token of our appreciation.


[Buyer name]

Sample Thank You Email for Returning Sellers

Just thanking you again for bringing us your wonderful things. Look forward to seeing you soon. Remember, we’ll email you a store credit for each new seller you send our way. We appreciate your continued patronage.


[Buyer name]


Our job is to convince parents and grandparents that selling to us is worth the effort. Sellers will only come to us if we give them what they want. Sellers want 3 things, listed in order of importance:

  • Convenience – Pay cash, take appointments, accept donations, and more
  • Fair Price – Explain to sellers how we price
  • Recycling – “Some little girl is just going to love this dress”


The easier we make it to sell, the more sellers we get. This is particularly true for sellers who have the higher quality items we value.

We can make it convenient for sellers in seven (7) ways:

  • Pay Cash
  • Extend Buying Hours
  • Take Drop-Offs
  • Do Home Buys
  • Buy All-Seasons
  • Accept Donations
  • Online Appointments
  • We Pay Cash

Our main message in ads targeting sellers is simple: “WE PAY CASH.” This lets sellers know that they will get paid immediately, and distinguishes us from consignment shops, where they would have to wait for the items to sell first.

Paying cash saves the seller the time and hassle of depositing a check. It also saves us the bank fees for processing checks, and saves us from depositing cash receipts from daily sales which we keep on hand to pay sellers.

  • Extend Buying Hours

The more hours we are available to buy, the more sellers will fit us into their schedules.

Owners typically buy for 5 or 6 hours each weekday, by appointment. Most also buy on Saturdays. A few buy on Sundays, one or two evenings a week, or one or two early mornings a week (before parents go to work).

We let sellers schedule appointments online or by phone.

  • Take Drop-Offs

Drop-offs can help keep sellers happy. Drop-offs are great for customers who don’t want to shop around during an appointment while their items are inspected, and those who can’t come in during normal buying hours. Customers drop off items and leave. We tally the total and send payment by check.

Some stores only allow drop-offs from customers who have sold to us before. It is important that a seller has proven that they have quality items and is willing to accept the prices we pay. Otherwise, owners risk wasting time and storage space evaluating un-sellable items. Having said that, some stores are forced to accept drop-offs from any and all in order to get the merchandise needed.

  • Home Buys

Lacking time or transportation, some customers will sometimes only sell to us if we come to their home. Most owners find that conducting “home buys” is not worth the effort. Those of us who do conduct “home buys” are very selective.

We ask the seller, in-person or on the phone:

  • What specific items do you have? (high-quality, in-demand)
  • How many items do you have? (many)
  • What is the condition of those items? (great condition)

We then quote illustrative prices we would pay, and make sure the seller is comfortable with those prices.

Our store’s bright lights are best for spotting stains, so we bring clothing items back to the store for processing. The seller must agree to pick up what we don’t take, or allow us to donate it.

Quantity is a key important consideration. Most owners would only consider a home buy valued at or more; given our 100% minimum markup, this ensures we will make at least after paying the seller ).

  • Buy All Seasons

Buying all seasons all year long brings in more sellers. We catch the early birds who want to sell off their children’s seasonal clothing as soon as the season ends, and the procrastinators who have been accumulating for many seasons (or years).

  • Accept Donations

Some of us accept donations as a convenient service to our customers, and then pass them along to charities. We only do so if we have room to store the donations temporarily at our store or home, and have been able to find charities that will pick them up.

  • Online Appointments

Some of our customers would rather make an appointment to sell, rather than just walk-in. This way they can be sure they will be seen immediately and not risk having to wait behind sellers walking in. Some of these customers find it more convenient to book (and sometimes change) their appointments on our websites. We make a point of letting our sellers know of the online option to book and change appointments.


The easier we make it for the sellers, the harder we make it for ourselves. It’s a balancing act. We put forth the effort and money to do this when: we need to fill the store, we want to grow the store, we have low stock of certain items, competitors are luring sellers away.

Fortunately, we have always been able to get the sellers we need without using every one of these measures. The never-ending challenge is to make use of our time and resources to create a satisfying and profitable business, without overworking our owners or staff. It is a balancing act, which we master over time to be successful.

Fair Price

The NextGen Pricing System is designed to arrive at a fair price. Regardless, if a seller does not think we’ve paid them a fair price (no matter the amount), we have lost both the present purchase and future purchases and sales, because they won’t be coming back. Most sellers do not know how much they might reasonably expect to receive for their things. It is our job to educate them about how we price. This needs to be done in the screening and appointment-making process and during the actual buy process. NextGen’s Fair pricing Standards are discussed under Pricing.


Recycling is an added benefit to most sellers, and not their primary motivation. Nevertheless, recognizing and reinforcing their recycling efforts can increase customer satisfaction.

We communicate the recycling benefits of selling to us through as part of our advertising to sellers. Our advertising targets mothers with children ages 3 to 12 and grandmothers. Because we generally receive a surplus of infant clothing, we don’t always target mon=thers of infants.

We like to use straight-forward statements communicating the personal benefit of the seller’s recycling to our customers. For example, we might say to a seller, “Some little girl is just going to love this dress,” or “Some little boy is going to be thrilled to get this bike.”

Recycling Posters

We also keep the broader recycling message in plain view in our stores and on our websites. A number of us place the following sign in our buying areas:

Sample Recycling Poster:


You are extending the useful life of your clothing. All will be worn again. Most donated clothing to charitable organizations is sold for rag at pennies a pound. You are supporting your state and community. {Store Name] is a community-based recycling plant. We contribute to the state and local economy, tax base and charities. You are reducing the country’s trade deficit. Purchases of your clothing in lieu of new helps reduce foreign imports. Most children’s apparel today is imported. You are improving the environment. Purchases of your resale clothing in lieu of new spares the environment. One of every two pieces of new children’s clothing is made of synthetic fiber. The manufacture of synthetic garments leaks pollutants into both air and water. You are helping your family. [Store Name] pays you cash for your items. The percent is higher for items with more popular labels and in better condition. Sellers find that it pays to shop at [Store Name], too. Most customers buy and sell.

Secondary Sources

There are three secondary sources of resale merchandise which are used if and when we find we’re unable to get enough from our primary sources.

Garage Sales

Area Consignment Events

Remote Buying

Local Movers/Junk Removal Companies

  1. Garage Sales

Garage sales can be rich sources of well-priced goods, commissions several individuals to make the rounds every weekend, purchasing needed toys, equipment, outerwear, boots and shoes. The store pays the garage sale buyers the same amount they would pay any seller, and everyone makes money.

During the 6 months of the year in which garage sales are running, this store typically purchases – through garage sale buyers.

>>Full Story on this store’s Garage Sale Strategy

>>How to build your team of Garage Sale Buyers

One Store’s Garage Sale Strategy

One store takes advantage of garage sales by commissioning several individuals to head out every weekend to purchase toys, equipment, outerwear, boots and shoes. The store pays the garage sale buyers the same amount they would pay any seller, and everyone makes money. This store typically purchases – through garage sale buyers during the warmer 6 months of the year.

Recruiting Garage Sale Buyers

They recruited individuals by placing ads in the Garage and Moving Sales pages on Craigslist.

Sample Craigslist Ad #1

Wanted: Garage Sale Buyers. We’ll tell you what we want and what we’ll pay. You pocket the difference. Call (555) 555-5555

Sample Craigslist Ad 2

Wanted: Garage Sale Buyers. Will Train. Good money and fun. Call (555) 555-5555

They were asked to respond by email. Eleven did. They were emailed the questionnaire to complete, and asked to fax it to the owner. The questionnaire they used was designed to identify frequent buyers covering different communities with vehicles big enough to carry a load, and those familiar with children’s goods.

Name: Hometown: Towns where you go to garage sales:

How often? Types of things you buy? What do you do with them? Type of vehicle? Children / Grandchildren? Email Address: Cell Phone: Two References (Name & Number):

Five were selected and asked to attend an orientation session at the owner’s home. The orientation served to be sure the buyers and owner were a comfortable fit, to provide the pricing information (Attached), and to offer some buying guidelines and tips. The pricing guide is designed to print on one 8.5′′ x 11′′ page, front and back, in order to serve as a quick reference. (See Attached)

  1. Area Consignment Events

Consignment events can be a great source of clothing, toys, and equipment. They can also be an opportunity for store employees to earn extra money. There is at least one national Franchisor and numerous local for-profit and not-for-profit entities around the country, each of which hold two large children’s consignment events annually, one in the spring and one in the fall. They sell maternity and children’s clothing, toys and equipment. These events rely on heavily on volunteers, who in exchange for spending 2-3 hours helping set up or staff the event, are allowed to shop ahead of time.

One Store’s Consignment Event Strategy

One of our stores happens to be in an area where these events take place. They see to it that one or two of their employees volunteer their time the day before the event and give their employees shopping lists of items needed. These employees work from the same Pricing Guide as the garage sale buyers. They pocket the difference between what the store pays them for the items and the amount they’ve paid for the items. They can net hundreds, even thousands as does the store.

  1. Remote Buying

There are a family of buying arrangements that owners have established to tap particular upscale neighborhoods known to hold the most valued (‘A’ Brand) resale merchandise. These arrangements are premised on the fact that while many wealthy sellers are prepared to sell their things for resale if easy and convenient enough, relatively few are inclined to themselves purchase resale items for their children. From the most expensive to the least expensive to manage, these arrangements include a) a buying satellite in a readily accessible neighborhood location, b) seasonal neighborhood pickups, and c) a buying station typically located in a neighborhood children’s store.

  1. a) Buying Satellite. A small space is leased, usually on a temporary or periodic basis,

to accept drop offs and/or engage in live buying. b) Seasonal Pickups. Advertisements (direct mail, inserts in neighborhood paper, postings about town) announce that the store is looking for better quality items to purchase—the emphasis is on cash, convenience, and the positives of recycling. The most productive pickup times are reportedly early spring, just after the beginning of the school year, and just after Halloween. A rental truck is required. Participants must agree to donate “No Thank You’s” to an charity identified. c) Buying Station. The owner arranges for a space inside, outside or adjacent to a neighborhood establishment, preferably a Children’s Shop. The Children’s shop gains additional traffic and the appreciation of customers, and rarely attempts to exact a fee.

  1. Local Movers & Junk Removal Companies

A few stores have contacted local moving companies and junk removal services (folks that remove stuff from people’s houses for a fee) about selling to them. We give them a Buyers Guide and Price List like those provided the garage sale buyers for reference. When they get enough things to be worth the trouble, they bring them by the store.

  1. Non-profit Donations

We obtain clothing, toys and equipment for resale either from, or on behalf of community charitable organizations (501-C- 3’s), hereinafter referred to as “Non-profits.” Because many parents/grandparents would rather donate than sell or consign their children’s/grandchildren’s items, and because they are able to claim the fair market value of these donated items as a tax deduction, donations can be a significant source of supply.

“Savers”, a national for-profit thrift store, partners with over 100 large non-profits, e.g. Epilepsy Foundation of America, Big brothers/ Big Sisters of America. The non-profits contact people in the community asking for donations of reusable clothing and household items. They’re paid a bulk rate based on the number of boxes and bags of merchandise they collect and deliver to Savers.

Our practice is to seek out and partner with smaller non-profits serving young children, e.g. special education and developmental disabilities agencies. A letter to the Agency directors describing the proposed partnering with a follow-up call works best.

Owners may arrange to obtain donations during a limited time period, generally a week, or on a continuing basis. The Owner may seek to enlist donors through a posting on the store website and/or store signage. In the latter case, at least one sign should be clearly visible to passers-by. There are many potential donors who are not resale shoppers. Alternately, the Non-profit may agree to enlist the donors to participate through a mailing/e-mailing to their regular contributors and families served. Under this approach, the non-profit agency does a mailing/emailing to prospective donors and the families they serve, announcing the partnering arrangement, specifying the type and quality of the items sought, indicating the pickup or collection arrangements as the case may be, and describing the logistics. Included in the e-mail is a link to the page of the Store WebSite that describes the type and condition of the items sought. Mention is also made of a Donation Receipt form which can be personalized and printed

The potential pitfall with donations, particularly those coming directly to the store, is that the store may be flooded with items not fit for resale, and thus be saddled with the task and cost of disposing of these unwanted items. It’s important to educate donors as to the quality expected and be prepared to screen out and refuse obvious “no thank you’s”.

In the case of donations coming to the store, it is important to note in the customer record the non-profit for whom they are donating in order to tally the proceeds for the non-profit and track the success of the campaign.

Screening and educating sellers

Pre-screening sellers and their offerings saves us time that we would otherwise spend wading through unacceptable clothing, toys and equipment, or tallying-up a load of items only to find that the prices we pay aren’t enough to satisfy the seller.

Educating the Seller

No matter how the seller chooses to sell to us—by appointment, during “walk-in” hours, or doing drop-offs that are processed in the seller’s absence—the seller must first be educated.

The first way we educate sellers is by displaying the text of “Why We Buy, What We Buy, and How We Do It (Word)” [attached] on our websites and in-store handouts. The second way we educate sellers is by phone or in person, giving them a verbal overview on what we buy and how the buying process works.

When educating sellers, we aim to do 4 main things:

  • Identify what items are currently being accepted and what we cannot take
  • Explain generally what we pay
  • Describe how the buying process works
  1. What Items are Currently Being Accepted

Gently used items are what we’re looking for.

Equipment and toys should be complete, in working order, and no more than 5 years old. See Full Guide of Items to Avoid

We buy in-season clothing newborn to size 12 OR We buy clothing newborn to Size 12 even when it’s off-season.

Clothes should be in fashion (less than 3 years old)

Clothes should be freshly laundered, with no stains, rips, fading or pilling. See Full Guide of Items to Avoid

  1. What We Pay (We Pay Fairly)

We Are Selective. We’ve come to learn what sells and at what price. We sell clothing, toys and equipment from 25-50% of their market (original) price. The percentage increases with the price and popularity of /demand for the item. An item originally selling for might be priced at , while an item originally selling for might be priced at . A pair of boys jeans size 5T, better brand might be priced at ; the same jeans, size 12 months might be priced at as infant sizes are in greater supply and less in demand.

The amount we pay for an item typically ranges from 15-60% of our resale price depending on the brand (quality), resale price, item condition, and whether the item is being purchased outright or on consignment . The better the brand and condition and higher the price, the higher the percentage paid. We pay 5 to 10% more for items purchased on consignment to reflect the fact that consignor is paid only for items that sell within a limited period (e.g. 60- 90 days).

  1. How the Buying Process Works

Appointments – We buy by appointment, without appointment (walk-in) during specified days and times, with the sellers present and not present (drop offs). Note: Some owners allow first-time sellers as well as returning sellers to drop-off items. Other stores, allow only returning, “proven,” sellers to do so in order to be sure that the items taking up storage space pending purchase will be acceptable.

Appointments are 30 minutes in length. Sometimes double appointments are made if customers have more than can be processed in 30 minutes, i.e. two kitchen size trash bags and a handful of toys and one or two pieces of equipment. Customers browse the store until the items have been priced. The buyer then invites them into the buy area, indicates the items they are able to buy, what they are able to pay, and answers any questions the seller might have. Sellers booking appointments are asked to indicate “how many bags/boxes of clothing and/or small toys they will be bringing, and the number of large toys or pieces of equipment.


The following information is entered for drop-offs and is retained as part of the seller’s record in the POS system:

  • Contact Information: Name, email address, mailing address, phone number, date, zipcode
  • A description of the items being dropped
  • What to do with items not purchased. The seller may opt to:

o Have the store donate any items not purchased to a charitable organization

o Pick up any items not purchased within some number of days (typically a week) of notification. NOTE: If they fail to do so, they
grant the store the right to donate any items not purchased to a charitable organization

Form of Payment. The seller may opt to receive payment in the form of:

  • cash or a check picked up at the store
  • store credit (typically amounting to 20% more than the cash amount) picked up at the store
  • mailed check

NextGen will provide a drop-off form template on request.  Drop-offs are processed on a first-come, first-serve basis sometime later without the seller present. Once the buyer has priced the items, s/he calls or emails the seller indicating the items s/he wishes to buy, the amount the store is prepared to pay, answers any questions the seller might have, and requests the seller’s approval.

The ability to accommodate drops depends on a temporary storage capacity for drops and returns, and the buying capacity (buyers) to keep up.

Walk-Ins – Unlike appointments, walk-ins need not be scheduled. They are processed on a first-come, first-serve basis. If there are more “walk-ins” than can be processed during the walk-in period, the seller can return another day or “drop-off” their items.

Managing the buying process

Managing the buying process involves managing the interpersonal aspects (human element) involved in buying as well as managing the operational aspects.

Managing Seller Expectations

In this section, we discuss buyer-seller interaction from greeting the seller up until when the seller decides whether to accept our offer price in exchange for their items. We talk about how to Manage Seller Expectations and attend to the human element by being respectful of and sensitive to our seller’s feelings.

Greeting a Seller

When we greet a first-time seller, after making polite conversation, we ask if they have read or heard “Why We Buy, What We Buy, and How We Buy It” .   If not, we hand them the flyer, or ask them to review the same information on the store website. Where at all possible, they should read the flyer before we begin to process their things.  NextGen will provide a template on request. 

Clear and Consistent Expectations

We are upfront and clear about the nuts and bolts of the buying process, and adhere to the same process with every seller. To build trust and avoid unnecessary questions from sellers and consignors, we:

  • prominently display the Certificate of Compliance with the NextGen Resale Fair Pricing Standards near our buy stations,
  • make available a description of the Fair Pricing Standards on our websites and at our stores, as well as
  • a description of “Why We Buy, What We Buy, and How We Buy It”

As Naomi Karten, a well-known author and consultant, observes: it’s about “Managing Expectations.” She explains, “satisfaction is a function of performance relative to expectations.” The information in “Why We Buy, What We Buy, and How We Buy It” is intended to shape their expectations.

There is more to managing sellers expectations than having sellers read a list of what we do and don’t buy. In her article “What Do Customers Want, Anyway?,” Naomi Karten notes that “how the [sellers] feel they’ve been treated, the touchy feely’ human element, is every bit as important as the nuts and bolts.”

Karten lists 18 customer expectations that factor into customer satisfaction, including dedicated attention, respect, empathy, honesty, basic courtesies, friendliness, clear explanations, and more. In her article, “What Do Customers Want, Anyway?,” Naomi Karten proposes a list of 18 things:

When I’m a Customer, I Want . . .

To be taken seriously

Competent, efficient service

Anticipation of my needs

Explanations in my terms

Basic courtesies

To be informed of the options

Not to be passed around

To be listened to (and heard)

Dedicated attention

Knowledgeable help


To be kept informed




Professional service



Kate Holmes—a leading expert in the resale, consignment, and thrift store industry— stresses a number of the same human elements in dealing with sellers:

Greet them warmly. Thank them for taking their time to bring their nice things and thank them again when they leave. When a [seller] enters your store with items, your job is to instill trust. Everything she sees and hears must build her confidence in your business acumen and honesty. Start off on the right foot with a welcome, I’m glad you have selected us, and a warm smile. Make her feel glad to be a part of your business, and let her know that you appreciate the effort that she has taken to bring you merchandise to sell. “Looks like you’ve done a good closet-cleaning” or “What lovely colors can be the start of a great partnership! “…. Even if you can’t accept anything she brought in? Make much of the fact that you appreciate the effort she went to, that she has done a valiant task in cleaning out her closets.”(Accepting And Pricing” by Kate Holmes, p.9).

Throughout the process, always use a positive tone and language. Every negative can be phrased as a positive, e.g. instead of “We don’t take xyz> “we take abc”; instead of “this item is too old for us to sell”> “we’ve found our customers to buy only the latest fashion.”

It is always a good idea to engage the seller on a personal level. The most obvious and useful inquiry regards the names and ages of the seller’s children or grandchildren. Note their names on the seller’s record. Ask after the children or other matters noted the next time they visit.

Managing the Buying Operation

Time is money. The buyer must be attentive to the sellers needs and feelings, but must also expedite the buying process; one should not and need not interfere with the other.

Quick Buying tips

Our customers are looking for better quality name brands that look good and work right. Our challenge is to find these treasures among the hundreds of items we must inspect each day and to do so quickly enough and with few enough mistakes to manage a profit. What we’ve learned is:

  • Invite seller input at the end of the selection process, not during it. Except where we request the seller’s help in inspecting equipment, interacting with the seller during our review process is a distraction, introducing mistakes and slowing us down. Explain to the seller that you will review everything with them at the end.
  • Invest time in quality buys, waste little time on others. Quickly size up the apparent quality of the buy:

o Condition of containers or bags

o Name brands or off-brands

o Way clothes are presented: folded or thrown in,

o Clean & fresh presentation

o Age, condition and quality of the toys

On a quality buy, spend more time looking at each item. On a lesser buy, riffle though for the nuggets (items in demand where brand and condition are not as important (sizes: 18 months – 8, outerwear, shoes, boots, boys pants). Don’t bother unfolding every item.

  • Pre-Sort large quantities. Where the quantity of clothing is large, save time by rapidly scanning and discarding items that are obviously not acceptable: (e.g., off- brand synthetics, infant synthetics, garments that are noticeably worn, stained, discolored, pilled, torn). This might be done by the buyer or by a lesser trained assistant where needed and available.
  • Keep item entries into the POS to a minimum. Entering items into the Liberty POS takes precious time. Consider the value of the information being added for each item.


  • Look at the clothing trouble spots. Look first and foremost at the zippers, buttons, cuffs, hems, seams, collars, knees, elbows, shoulders. Look for missing fasteners, rips, tears and stains, pilling, yellowing and other problems.
  • Stains. Stains are often more apparent on the inside, rather than outside of a garment. Forgive minor stains on outerwear and equipment.
  • Mold and Mildew. Do not buy items that smell of mildew or show mold (black smudges or dots on fabric) It is virtually impossible to get rid of the odors, and even to mask them for any period of time, and the mold cannot be washed out .
  • Equipment Demonstration. Ask the sellers to setup and demonstrate their equipment. Know how it works before you attempt to sell it. If that’s not possible, take the item on consignment and do not pay for a week after the item has been purchased to be sure that it is working for the purchaser.
  • Battery-powered Toys and Equipment. We keep an array of batteries available for test prior to purchase. Some of us leave the batteries in to speed item sales; others remove them, and have a display of new batteries for sale.
  • Dirty Items. If the item is sure to sell, we have the time and resources to do the cleaning, and our net after the cleaning is sufficient, we buy it.
  • Recalled Items. If the item is sure to sell, and there is a free retrofit we offer them at least less than the price we would normally pay them for the item. If we can claim a refund or credit for the recalled item, we offer them at least less than the refund we would get from the manufacturer and at least less the credit we would get from the manufacturer.

Closing the Purchase

Even though a lot more has been written about closing a sale, closing a purchase is harder. Closing a purchase is especially difficult because of the seller’s emotional attachment to the items and feelings of rejection.

Emotional Attachment – We are asking the seller to part with his or her children’s things, to which they usually have some emotional attachment. To minimize the separation anxiety, it is best that the seller not be close at hand as we rifle through his or her child’s things. The sorting process inevitably gives rise to memories, related feelings of attachment and distracting stories. We explain to sellers that we need to give his or her things our undivided attention in order to finish in-time for the next seller, but that when we’re done looking through them will call him or her to the back room, indicating what items we would like and what we are able to pay. We can answer any questions at that time.

Feelings of Rejection – We are going to say “no” to some items, which will feel like rejection to many sellers. The challenge is saying “no” to items that won’t work for us in a way that minimizes the chances of offending the seller. The essential message to convey is that we have learned what items work for our shoppers, and the refused item(s) won’t. It’s about the items and not a reflection on the seller. Kate Holmes suggests prefacing your offer by reminding the seller that they have a choice, e.g.  “Thanks for offering us these items today. I’m going to make a cash offer now, but please be aware that you can refuse it. You won’t hurt my feelings if you do. Please accept only if that is what you want to do.”

The Closing Process

We place the items we are taking in a bin, and pile those we’re not taking on or beside our buy counter or cart. We place items that are good examples of problems found on top to illustrate as necessary. When asked, we take the time to specify the prices we’re paying for a few of the higher priced items, but generally decline to do so for all items, explaining that “our NextGen Pricing Agreement does not permit us to share our pricing formulas.”

Refusing Items Tactfully

Kate Holmes offers some tactful ways of explaining why particular items won’t work:

“This was lovely in its time.” “It’s out of style.”

“This must have been a favorite outfit.” “It’s too worn.”

“You must have had a good time in this.” “It’s stained.”

“This needs another quick little run through the washer.”

“It’s dirty.”

“A quick laundering will freshen this up.” “It smells.”

“My customers just wouldn’t appreciate it.” “It’s not in demand.”

“I simply don’t have the market for it.” “It won’t sell.”

In addition:

“For some reason, people don’t seem to be buying this” works well if you are refusing a category currently in stock but which you are trying to eliminate.

“I appreciate your thinking of us” is a polite preliminary to the refusal of many items.

Source: “Accepting And Pricing” by Kate Holmes, p.10

Seller Arguments

If the seller doesn’t want to hear or accept our decision, we remain firm, but we do listen to their arguments.

Indeed, in order to avoid losing the buy, we will offer a bit more to valued sellers (those who bring top brands). At the very least, all of us will empathize with the seller. We suggest to them that given the low price we’re able to pay, they may want to instead give it to a friend or donate it to a worthy charity.

We’ve all learned there is no benefit to a prolonged debate. However, sellers can take offense if they perceive you impatiently pressing for a “yes” or “no.” We’ve found that the surest way to bring debates to a close is to suggest alternative avenues the seller might pursue. This tells the seller that we are not changing our offer, and that we want to help him or her find the best way to recycle her things.

Alternatives we suggest—in addition to gifting and donating—include:

  • Craigslist
  • eBay
  • Other Resale Shops
  • Reputable Charities

After suggesting alternatives, we invite the seller to return with the things for which we’ve made an offer if they have no luck. In our experience, few sellers have the time or want to take the time required to pursue these on-line solutions, and those that do often will return after striking out.

The Consignment Option – Finally, for pricier items that we would like to have, but fear they will not sell at a higher price, we sometimes offer a consignment arrangement at a mutually acceptable price where the seller gets paid only upon the sale of the item, and agrees that the price will periodically drop until it sells or is donated.

Business Language – No matter what words or methods we choose to use when buying, we’re ever mindful that the buying process is a business transaction between ourselves and the seller; we refrain from such phrases as “here is what I can give you.” We use such phrases as “this is what we are able to offer you” or “pay you”; phrases that are business- like and definitive.

Saying Goodbye to the Seller

Regardless of whether we were able to successfully close the buy, we thank the seller for their effort and for the things we’ve taken, and apologize for the inability to take more.

If they are taking back the items we’ve not purchased, we offer a hand in carrying them out of the store. Once they’ve left the store, if they have indicated that they are donating the items that we’ve not purchased, we either enter the donated items into the POS System, bag them up, apply a yellow sticker to the bag indicating that it contains “Donated” items, and move the bag to storage, OR move the items to the “To be Donated” Area for later entry, bagging and storage.


We routinely have the seller sign and date a Log whereby they acknowledge the sale: ““The seller hereby acknowledges receiving the amount(s) showing on this Log, that the amount(s) represent payment in full, and that the items sold for this amount are now the property of [Store Name]. The seller further acknowledges that any items not selected for purchase and left with [Store name] will be donated by the Store to a Charitable Organization.”

After the purchasing process is finished, we always rate the buyer in the buyer’s record: entering the rating of the client’s manner as “1” for ‘amicable’, “2” for ‘business-like’ and “3” for ‘difficult’, and rate the quality of the client’s things in terms of the predominant Brand level, “A’ for ‘boutique brands’, “B” for ‘specialty/department store brands’, ‘C’ for ‘lesser brands’, and “D” for ‘failing brands’.  This allows us to select out those with the best items and attitude when we’re looking for sellers, and informs our approach interacting with the seller the next time he or she comes in.