Tagging Tips for Consignment Sales

Kristen Yartz
Little Red Hen Consignment Tagging Service
(Photo courtesy Little Red Rooster)

Children’s consignment sales have long been a part of parenting for Kristen Yartz.  She saves her family money and earns some back twice yearly by recycling gently used clothes and other children's items at local children’s consignment sales.  This East Tennessee mother of two decided to turn her savvy consignment skills into a cottage business and now offers full item preparation services for clients through Little Red Hen Consignment Tagging Service.  For those who might want to do all of the preparations on their own, I asked Yartz to share some of her secrets with us.  I was surprised to learn that saving certain colors of old curling ribbon from gift packages could increase my earnings when I sell my kids' boutique clothes!  Below is her guest post chock-full of valuable details:

Whether this is your first or your fifth consignment season, you have probably already decided which sale you want to do and are now facing mounds of your children’s’ outgrown and unused “stuff.” It can be overwhelming to come up with an efficient game plan, especially with so little spare time. So here are some tips and tricks that we've learned and used over the years at Little Red Hen Consignment Tagging Service to increase your efficiency in preparing clothing for a consignment sale.  No time to consign?  Check out our full range of services on our website – we’d be glad to help!

SUPPLIES

Ensure that you have an abundance of tagging supplies. It’s easy (especially your first time) to underestimate how many items you’ll be preparing for sale, and just how many hangers and pins the process will require. Make sure that you have a more than ample supply of:

• Hangers that ideally match the size of the clothing you wish to sell
• 3”x5” tagging cards, preferably unlined
• Safety pins to affix clothing to hangers and for tagging cards if you aren’t using a tagging gun.  We typically use #1 size safety pins to affix clothing to plastic hangers; smaller pins can be used with metal hangers.  It’s also helpful to have some extra-large pins on hand.
• Tagging gun with a fine fabric needle
• Extra fine fabric needles for tagging gun
·   Battery operated de-fuzzer (to take pills off clothing)
• Lint roller
• Set of small, sharp scissors (to trim any hanging threads)
• Highlighters (if your sale asks you to color-code your tags in case of unsold item pick-up)
• Red markers (often required by sales to denote items that you do not wish to sell half price)
• Several pens (in case one runs out)
• 4” zip ties (great for shoes)
• Ziplock bags in assorted sizes, including quart size
• Curling ribbon in the sale-specific color
• Packing tape
• Calculator (for figuring 30-40% of original retail price)

Make sure to leave room on the card for the barcode sticker. Larger barcodes typically measure 2 ¼” wide by ¾” tall.

Adult sized wire hangers can be used for children’s clothing, with one caveat: Make sure to pin the clothing to the hangers so that it will be nicely presented, rather than distorting the clothing by attempting to hang it as you would adult clothing.  Alternately, packs of cheap, plastic hangers can be purchased at dollar stores and big box stores.  If you choose the latter, hangers are typically cheaper in the children’s section. As you purchase items at sales, always keep the hangers and safety pins to build up your supplies for next season. Consider purchasing safety pins in bulk – you won’t pay retail price and you will have plenty on hand. Many on-line pin suppliers have a low minimum order, and you’ll receive well over 1,000 pins in one box – more than enough for several sales as an individual consignor.

TAGGING PREP

For tagging, make sure you have a comfortable spot to sit with a flat, clear workspace, ideally next to a window. You may have little helpers underfoot.  If so, I find it helpful to have extra index cards at hand for them to color on and decorate with stickers, glue, sequins, etc. If you’re lucky enough to be tagging solo, the process will undoubtedly move much faster! Before you begin, highlight all of your tagging cards with the color assigned to you by the sale (if you wish to pick up any unsold items) and write your consignor number on each card.

INFO. FOR TAGS

• Your consignor number
• Size of the item
• Brand (I always underline this)
• Brief description of the item in case it is separated from its tag
• Details of whether there are multiple pieces being sold with the item
• Note if the item is brand new with tags
• Barcode
• Hand-written price
• Sale-specific coding to indicate if the item is to be discounted or not
If you wish to pick up any unsold items after the sale, your card may also need to be color coded, based on the rules of the individual sale.
Follow your sale’s posted instructions of how to pin tags onto your clothing items. At Little Red Hen, we utilize a fine fabric tagging gun.  When using tagging guns, make sure that you tag through a garment’s seam to ensure that holes are not created in the item.

MORE TAGGING AND ORGANIZING TIPS
Kristen Yartz Pressing Items for
Consignment Sales
(Photo courtesy Little Red Rooster)

Reference a Suggested Pricing Guide like the one for Knoxville, TN at Little Red Hen’s website.  Suggested Pricing Guides go further than the recommended 30-40% of retail, and often provide a breakdown by type of clothing and brand level. These can be helpful to refer to, especially if you are a beginning consignor learning to price. It can be rather astounding to learn what an average suggested price is for an item. Competition at sales is also a driving force; if a shopper is faced with multiple similar items, price will play a part in her decision of which to choose.

Make a list of prices. For each sale I participate in, I generate a master price list on my computer that I then print out. It has a list of each price-point that I expect to price items at, starting at $1.00. There are two columns of this price, one for items that will not be discounted, and another for items that I plan to allow to be sold for half-price. The next line is $2.00 (again, with full price and half price columns), then $3.00 and so on. As I prepare a tag, I put a mark in the appropriate column. Leave space at the bottom so that you can write-in higher prices for larger items.

As you write your tagging cards, keep count of how many pricing barcodes you will be ordering from each category on your master pricing list. At the end of tagging your items, give yourself a margin for items that you may add before the sale, and add that extra onto your overall column tally. When you order your barcodes, order them by price and by discount/no discount. For instance, 15 tags at $1.00, no discount. 35 tags at $1.00, discount. Then move on to your higher priced items. When the barcodes arrive, you’ll be able to easily find the prices and combinations you need.

Allow your items to go for Half Price.  Wouldn’t you rather make something instead of nothing for an item (especially if you intend to donate unsold items at the end of a sale anyway)?  If you choose not to donate unsold items after a sale, you’ll have the task of re-tagging them for another sale (and paying that sale’s fees) or storing them for a full year before the sale of your choice rolls around again.  My overall sales and those of my clients always get a healthy bump on Half Price day.

Curling ribbon should be used to tag all items that the sale considers to be “boutique.” When affixing curling ribbon to your hanger, wrap the ribbon around the shoulders of the hanger, as well as the neck. If you just tie it around the hanger’s neck, it is likely to slide off during the sale. Most sales will provide a list of brands that fall into their definition of boutique on their website. If in doubt, ask! Many seasoned consignment sale shoppers go right to items with curling ribbons in their first perusal of a clothing section. Boutique items typically bring higher prices at consignment sales, and curling ribbons are an essential way that they will catch the eye of shoppers on the lookout for those high-end brands.

Sort!  Once your hanging items are tagged and waiting for barcodes, sort them again, this time by price and by discount vs. non-discounted items. When your barcodes arrive, you’ll fly through the barcode process! Some highly organized consignors use a recipe box to separate their barcodes by price and discount/non-discount. If you’ve ordered them in ascending price order, it should be easy to flip to the correct price and code as needed. Make sure you keep any unused barcodes for future sales; the consignor number you were assigned at registration will most likely stay the same, and this will allow you to get a head-start on tagging for upcoming seasons.

When your barcodes have been affixed to the tags, do one final sort by gender and size, and rubber band items together into like sizes. Most consignment sales ask that consignors distribute their own items throughout the sale floor. Let the quality-control checkers at the sale know that your items have been pre-sorted, and they’ll most likely be careful to keep them in the order in which you’ve brought them. This is a great time-saver when merchandising your items at the sale site.

Happy Tagging!

Thanks to Kristen Yartz for this helpful information in her guest post!  Be sure to visit her at Little Red Hen Consignment Tagging Service if you live in the greater Knoxville area and have no time to consign.