First off, a “Mom 2 Mom” sale shouldn’t be confused with a “Consignment Sale”. These are two completely different types of sales.
A Mom to Mom sale is more like a huge garage sale under one roof. Moms individually reserve or rent space, bring in their stuff, and run their own sales. The sales are usually only 1/2 – 1 day. Items may be priced in bulk or individually – anything goes. Shoppers can typically negotiate on purchases, just as if they were garage sale shopping.
Consignment sales, on the other hand, are much more organized and run 2-3 days. Moms typically pay a fee to participate in the sale and/or are asked to volunteer to help run the sale. Most sales also charge Sellers a commission fee on each item sold (usually about 30%). Participating moms are given an identification number and tags. They price their items in advance and drop them off several days before the sale begins. Sale coordinators and volunteers organize all the items into types and size, and usually only certain brands and item quality are accepted. So, a consignment sale feels more like a shopping at a very large resale shop than a garage sale. During the sale shoppers cannot negotiate on purchases, although some sales offer a discount on remaining items the final day of the sale. A fabulous resource for anything you would ever want to know about consignment sales is ConsignmentMommies.com.
Either way, organized mom sales can be big and attract a lot of shoppers. Obviously each type of sale will attract a different type of shopper, too. Mom 2 Mom sales typically draw in a crowd who enjoy shopping garage sales. While Consignment Sales typically draw a crowd of moms who enjoy shopping name-brand resale (both online and off).
I recently attended the “Super Mom 2 Mom Sale” in Birch Run, Michigan, and had an opportunity to ask both shoppers and sellers some questions. Below are some tips direct from the floor.
Mom 2 Mom Sales: Tips for Shoppers
Mom 2 Mom sales can be like garage sale shopping on steroids. If you need things for your children, why bother hopping from garage sale to garage sale, when you can find 10′s or 100′s of moms selling their used, outgrown, no-longer-needed baby & kids things under one roof?
Depending on the venue, there may be an entry fee. The sale I just attended cost $3.00 to get in, and was held at a local expo center. Some smaller Mom 2 Mom sales at churches, for example, may not charge a fee.
Here’s a few tips for first-timers:
- Bring along some re-usable shopping bags. Not all sellers will provide bags.
- If possible, leave the kiddos home. The sale I just attended was packed! It was difficult for me, as a single person, to maneuver the aisles. I felt bad for the moms pushing strollers and/or trying to keep track of their children.
- Bring cash. Everything is cash and carry. Some sellers may allow personal checks or have the ability to accept a credit card, but don’t count on it.
- Prices are negotiable, especially if you purchase several things from the same seller and/or you’re in the final hour of the sale.
- Bring a list. The quantity of stuff for sale can be overwhelming. A list will help you stay focused on what you need.
- Know your prices. There can be significant variances in pricing from table to table.
- Be sure to look under and around the tables. Most sellers tend to bring more than what fits on their table.
- Comparison shop – carefully. If you find something on your list that you need, get it. If you wait, it could be gone. However, if you’re just browsing, it might pay to scout out the tables before you dive in and start buying.
- Don’t go on an empty stomach. I spoke with fellow shoppers who had been at the sale for hours.
Mom 2 Mom Sales: Tips for Sellers
I interviewed several Moms at the sale (which that has become so popular that it’s now held every 2 months, instead of twice a year). A couple Moms were “regulars”, and others were trying it for the first time.
The regulars had a better idea of what shoppers would buy, and typically had just one table plus one rack for hanging items.
The non-regulars put in much more effort, bought 3-6 tables (plus racks), and tried selling everything they had in a few hours.
I asked several Moms a few questions:
“How much did you pay to set up here today?”
- $20 per table + $3 per rack.
- Be careful. While taking a lot might be appealing, the cost of set up could cut deeply into your potential profits. One mom I talked with had 6 tables and 3 racks, paid a total of $129 to set up, and the sale only ran from 8:00 a.m to 1:00 p.m. (Seriously!)
“How much time did you put into this so far?”
Every answer went something like this:
- Prior to event: Organize, price, plan: 2 – 12 hours
- Night before: 30 min. – 2 hours
- Travel: 30 min. – 1 hour
- Setup – 7:00 – 8:00
- Seller’s private sale: 8:00 – 9:00*
- Some seller’s participate just to have the opportunity to shop first at the private sale
NOTE: 41 hours and $129!! I could list A LOT on line for that, and get higher prices for my nicer things that are still in very good condition. Unbelievably, none of the moms I talked to have ever listed anything for sale online before.
“What kinds of things are selling the best?”
According to the Moms I talked with, items that were in good to great condition and were well-known brands sell best, and in these categories:
- Equipment & Gear (small and large)
- Nursery Decorations
“What kinds of things aren’t selling?”
Anything could sell. Just like a garage sale – you never know. Unless, of course you have your items way over-priced for the crowd. The vast majority of of shoppers are looking for great bargains, but there is the occasional shopper that will scout out higher-end, quality merchandise at good prices.
“What do you like most about this event?”
- “It’s a social thing for me. I like talking to and meeting all the other moms.”
- “If I sell some things, great! I don’t have high expectations”
- “I come to sell just so I can shop the first hour of the sale, which is for sellers only. I just bring a few things and set up one table, so it isn’t a lot of work.”
- “It’s a chance to, basically, have a garage sale in the middle of winter and get rid of some things”
- “Most of the garage sale stuff I have is kids’ stuff, so it makes more sense for me to set up here than have my own sale”
- “The expo center does a great job advertising these sales and attracting a crowd.”
“What do you least like about this event?”
- “I hope I make some money! My table fees were $72.”
- “It was a lot of work getting here and setting up, so I hope I make enough money so that it was worthwhile,”
- “I’m exhausted! I’m working this alone, so I’m afraid if I turn my head some of my things could disappear. There’s a lot of people looking, constantly, but not everyone is buying.”
- “My nice things aren’t selling. I even have a lot of New With Tags stuff, and I can’t believe it’s just sitting here!” <this is where I put in a plug for LoobaLee.com…btw>
- “The fees. I understand we have to pay to use this venue, but it can be hard to make money”
At the end of the day, whether your shopping or selling, Mom to Mom sales are a good, green thing, because they generate a large focus on re-use and secondhand. And, if you hit it just right, you could bring home a lot of goodies and/or some decent cash for your efforts.
Looking for a Mom to Mom Sale in your area? I haven’t been able to a nationwide directory of even the biggest sales, and many of them are privately run (if you know of one, please let me know!). The best approach is to do a google search in your area for Mom 2 Mom sales or Mom to Mom sales.