eBay vs. Consignment: What Every Momma Needs to Know

Okay, so it’s not time for spring cleaning. But, who says you can’t start the new year with some closet makeovers? Chances are your kids got new toys and clothes over the holidays. Maybe you got some things that you don’t necessarily want or need. So, what are you going to do with all of that stuff?

It may sound mean, but you can’t keep everything. Unless you want to be on “Hoarders”, there’s just no need to keep every toy your child has ever played with. There’s even no need to keep every dress you’ve ever worn to every wedding…especially if it doesn’t fit.

So, what’s a momma to do?

As I see it you have four options:

1. Donate to charity.

2. Give to someone who has a child younger than you and who can use it.

3. eBay it.

4. Consign it.

I admit, I do all four. While numbers 1 and 2 may leave you all warm and fuzzy inside, numbers 3 and 4 can earn you some extra cash. There’s nothing wrong with that! But, which is better, eBay or consignment shops? Sometimes it depends on what you’re selling. Other times it’s all about timing.

Here are some pros about selling on eBay:

1. You can usually make more money. Whether you choose the auction or buy it now option, you can usually make more money than at a consignment shop. Remember, consignment shops are doing the work for you. They will take a percentage. Sometimes the most random items in your mind, like a pair of children’s size 4 silver snow boots, will sell for nearly $10 when you list them for just $6. People get into bidding wars over some strange things! You can use this to your advantage.

2. Junk to you, treasure to another. Like I said above, something that you may classify as “junk” could be what another person has been searching high and low for. This is especially true with knick knacks and kitchen items. I once sold a cookie jar I never used to someone who happened to collect cookie jars. I thought it was pretty tacky and useless. She thought it was a gem. Go figure!

3. They calculate shipping. eBay takes the guess work out of the shipping costs. Many people worry they will end up paying more than the buyer paid for shipping. If you choose the “calculated shipping” option, there is a 99% chance you won’t get stuck. Even if you do, it’s usually under $1. Usually.

4. Money is easy to withdraw. Money earned from eBay usually goes into a PayPal account. You can use this money to buy other things online or you can transfer it to a bank account. The nice thing is that it is extra money that you never counted on but is there when you need it.

Here are a couple of cons about selling on eBay:

1. You do the work. Unlike a consignment shop, you are responsible for making sure the buyer gets the item. This means packing it, shipping it and getting to the post office to mail it in a timely fashion. Buyers don’t want to wait forever for an item; especially if they paid quickly. If you don’t have the time to invest in eBay selling, this may not be for you.

2. There are fees. Since eBay is acting like a personal store for all the world, it is going to take a cut. It all depends on how much you sell. At the end of the month, you’ll get an invoice. The amount is deducted from your PayPal account.

3. If you don’t sell it, it’s still yours. Unlike some consignment shops that donate unsold items, your unsold items are still yours. If you’ve tried a few times to sell something and it doesn’t sell you can either keep it, chuck it, or donate it.

If eBay is not your thing, you may be more of a consigning type of momma. Here are some pros about consignment shops.

1. They do the work. There’s no shipping or packing involved here. You just need to drop off your clean items, and the shop tries to sell it. Many shops will give your items 30 days to sell at full price. After that they get reduced. After that they get donated unless you want to go back and pick them up. The great thing is that if you don’t care about getting unsold items back, you never have to see your stuff again!

2. You may get paid up front. There are two consignment shops I use. At one you drop off your stuff and if it sells then you get paid. At the other one (kids’ clothes and toys) they pay you up front. So, whether your item sells or not, you are getting money. I tend to get more at the one where I have to wait for my items to sell. It makes sense. The other place is taking a chance that it will sell your stuff when you get paid first, so that’s probably why you won’t make as much.

3. You can earn credit towards other items. If you like to also shop at consignment shops, many give you a discount card that applies for selling and buying. You can often use what you’ve earned towards current purchases.

Here are a couple of cons about consigning

1. Seasonal Items Only. Unlike eBay where you can post any thing at any time of the year, many consignment shops are seasonal. So, if you’re cleaning the closet and find clothes for winter, spring, summer, and fall and it’s spring, all those other items will have to wait until their season. By that time, you may forget about them again or end up throwing them away. Some children’s consignment shops accept all clothes for all seasons all year long. Always be sure to check the rules.

2. You Have to Prepare Everything. Many consignment shops have rules about how they will accept items. Many want things on hangers. Others just want items folded nicely in clear bins. The process can get tedious. But, if you don’t mind, it could work for you in the long run.

3. Reclaiming Your Items & Keeping Track. At many places, if your items don’t sell, you have the option of coming to pick them up. But, that means going through the store to find it. This can also become tedious. If you don’t care what becomes of your items, you can just leave them there to be donated.

Those are just some of the pros and cons of both eBay and consignment shops. I like using them both for different types of things. Once you get into it, you may be surprised at just how much money is lying around your house in unused items!



1 Comment eBay vs. Consignment: What Every Momma Needs to Know

  1. Kristin

    Great article Kristina! I suppose when generations of families lived in the same city option 2 (hand me downs) was an easy solution but now as we are living more geographically dispersed than ever another solution is required. But I don’t think eBay and Consignment shops are worth the bother for most parents…


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