This is the shopping spree that Mom definitely doesn't have to worry about hiding from Dad! It's the Just Between Friends sale in Mesquite, Texas, part of a twice-yearly consignment convention where thousands of shoppers (mainly moms) scoop up bargains on maternity, baby and kid stuff.
More than 200 similar sales take place annually, attracting some 300,000 deal hunters looking for everything from clothing and shoes to toys, books, strollers and more at rock-bottom prices. (I first met the company in 2008 for a "Good Morning America" profile on the women who launched the fast-growing franchise system.)
I asked the top sellers to give me their best advice on raking in the bucks at your own garage or yard sale or through consignment shops in your area or online. And I invite you to send me your best tips on making money through consignment or garage sales -- and feel free to ask me your questions too -- at Facebook.com/Tory or Twitter.com/ToryJohnson.
1. Clean brings the green, so apply some elbow grease. You could get $10 for a filthy stroller or perhaps double that -- or even more -- for a clean one. Wash the wheels and clean out the crevices where dirt and crumbs hide. For all items, remove scuff marks and dirt with soap and water or a slightly stronger cleaning detergent.
2. Keep it complete. Don't cut the labels out of clothing because identifying brands and sizes is important for buyers. Save the original boxes for toys and electronics because the complete package is more appealing when you're looking to sell. Similarly, clothing with missing buttons should be replaced because the two minutes to sew a button can mean the difference in the sale. If an item requires batteries, you'll up the chances of selling it if you include them as proof that it works.
3. Get rid of the junk. Stains, rips, tears, holes and other things that render clothing or stuff useless shouldn't be thrown in with your quality goods. It's an instant turnoff to savvy buyers who are looking for like-new items.
4. Freshen it up. I learned a few insider tricks about the power of a spritz of Febreze to make clothes smell like new, and the strength of Armor All to restore leather shoes to their original condition. A Magic Eraser works, well, magic on the surface of many toys, bikes, appliances and more. A little effort to freshen up goes a long way in adding up the sales.
5. Price to sell. With the exception of big ticket items, the goal is to clean out unwanted items and bring in some cash. You won't have success if the prices are too high, no matter how much you originally paid. There's no shortage of coupons and special sales with retailers on brand-new merchandise, so people shopping at consignment or garage sales are looking for super steep discounts and major deals on used stuff. To make a decent amount of money, focus on volume. Stock up before unloading.