Friday, May 7, 2010

How I Make Money By Shopping at Yard Sales

It’s Frugal Friday over at Life as Mom, and since I posted about my clothing deals on Monday, I thought I’d share how I make a *profit* by going to church and yard sales – you heard me! :)

The short answer: I find super-cheap clothes that I can sell at local consignment shops where I have accounts.

Here’s the scoop:

Growing up in Connecticut, my mom and I went to yard sales all the time – but I had never heard of a church rummage sale until I moved to PA. They have them *all* the time here – and most of them have tables upon tables of clothes just waiting to be picked through for ridiculously cheap prices.

There are a few churches I can think of that let you fill up a bag for $1, which are my favorite sales to go to (although I’ve been to personal yard sales where they do this, too). I am always, always, always on the look-out for name-brand clothes. If they fit me, great! But as long as they’re in good shape and still in style, they go in the bag to be sold at the consignment shop.

For instance, on Monday I showed you these clothes that I purchased:

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However, I’m not keeping the black cardigan or the black pants for myself – they’re too small. I don’t even get how “0” is a size – but don’t get me started! haha

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Both of the items are a little older – if you shop at The Limited you can tell that’s an old tag – but since they’re pretty classic pieces (and the sweater is wool), I think I can get away with it.

You may already know this, but I’ll share it anyway: Banana Republic, Gap, and Old Navy are all owned by the same parent company. Underneath every tag it will tell you what quarter of what year the piece was in stores.

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So, as you can see, these pants came out in Fall 2002 – which happens to be right when I started college! But they’re still high-quality and totally still in style – it’s not like they’re elastic waist and tapered leg! :) Even though I know these pants can still be worn, I always cut the tag out when I sell the item – just in case. I want the shopkeeper to be influenced by the look of the piece – not when it happened to come out in stores!

Here’s another example: back in the fall I posted about another church’s bag sale I went to, where I purchased some J. Crew jeans and a J. Crew cable-knit sweater. Both of those were too small for me, so both went off to the consignment shop, as well. blog photos 7 009

For some reason, I seem to find a lot of Talbot’s and J. Crew pieces in this area. I sell to 3 different shops, and those pieces always seem to have success!

The important thing to keep in perspective is the price you’re paying up front. Most of my items cost me the equivalent of 10 cents or less, since they’re in a bag with sometimes dozens of other items for $1. Personally, I wouldn’t pay more than a quarter for a piece I knew I was going to sell. Although, all of the consignment shops I sell to have a policy that any unsold items get donated to charity, so I’m okay with that. :)

So there you have it! That’s how I make yard sales work for me! Did I mention that I’m going to another $1/bag church sale tomorrow? Yeah, I’m not kidding when I say I might not be able to sleep tonight. ;)

What about you? Do you sell to any consignment shops? Do you enjoy clothes shopping at yard sales, or does it drive you crazy? If you have any other clothing tips, let me know – and happy weekend! :)

(P.S. I’m totally going with green for the chair! I have some left over celery/seafoam green from Luke’s bedroom that I’m going to mix with a little white and I think it will be perfect – I’ll post a picture when it’s finished. Thanks for your input! :)


  1. I sell clothes and toys the boys have out grown at a huge childrens consignment sale we have twice a yr here. I made over $100 this spring and I already have a big pile to sell next fall. Sometimes I sell stuff at consignment shops but I like the three day sale better because I get my money right away and can sell almost everything in the same weekend!

  2. What do you normally make off each piece?

  3. @ Tami Q.,
    It varies - I'd say on average $4-5 bucks from a shirt (since I only make 50% of the selling price). Jeans and coats are obviously more. So if think about the fact that I pay less than 10 cents for an item, I'm making 50 times what I payed for it! :)

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  5. Wow. I had never thought about that before. Thanks for sharing. And thanks for linking with new friend friday. It's great to meet you.

  6. Great way to generate some income! I haven't been to yard sales in awhile, but need to get back into it!

  7. I've never consigned, but I have bought designer and better brand clothes and sold them on ebay. The thift shops around here tend to get a lot of Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Liz Claiborne, Jos. A Banks, etc.


    Stop by and visit me over at Free 2 Be Frugal sometime.

  8. We didn't have rummage sales but we had ones called Jumble Sales - along the same lines. For years my Mum used to get me second hand clothes from them - I thought it was cool to have new to me clothes but my friends were like gross you're wearing someone elses hand me downs.

    Who's laughing now, thrift chic is cool lol.

  9. You are a very very smart lady! I think you can get some beautiful gently warn clothes and other items! I have so many beautiful things, but people always seem to comment on my thrift items. When you mix things they all can look fabulous!
    Thanks for this wonderful reminder.

  10. this is a smart idea! we just now have a few consignment shops in the area... i need to sell some things. i forget about consignment... usually i'm anxious to get rid of stuff so i drop it all off at goodwill and settle for the tax write off. : )

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