Last Thursday, we shared how you could make some quick cash by consigning your child’s no-longer needed clothes, accessories, toys and other items at the TotSwap Sale in Timonium this weekend. This week we’re talking shopping strategy.

Here are our Top Ten Strategies for Navigating the TotSwap!
  1. Shop Early. Shop Often. Robyn Rutland from TotSwap is estimating more than 50,000 items up for grabs at this weekend’s sale. That’s a LOT of stuff to sift through! The most popular items (Little Tikes play gear, Ralph Lauren and Lilly Pulitzer clothing, etc.) tend to go fast and furiously at the beginning of the sale. But you’ll find prized treasures at the bottom of the heap as the sale items thin out, too.
  2. The late bird just might get the worm... Most consignors have elected to drop their prices by 50% on Sunday. Bundle of books that started at a $1 may just get marked down to 50 cents. While the hot items might not survive that long, real bargains are guaranteed for those who shop on Sunday.
  3. New Moms have their own special sale! New mom? TotSwap offers a special pre-sale shopping opportunity on Thursday night for new moms. There are a limited number of $5 passes available, but pre-sale access means first shot at in-demand items for those lucky gals that score one. “New Mom” applies to anyone expecting or whose first child is under two years of age.
  4. Hire/Find/Finagle a Sitter. By no means are you discouraged from bringing your child or children to the sale. But let’s be honest. You’ll be able to look more thoroughly and find the things you need if you aren’t worried about keeping tabs on your tot. Strollers have to be checked at the entrance. If you’re like me, one hand would literally have to stay on your child the whole time in order to keep them from reorganizing EVERYTHING. So save your sanity and give the kids to your mother, mother-in-law, husband, cousin, or sister’s first boyfriend’s second cousin-in-law for a few hours. You’ll probably come home with the things you need… and avoid any oh-so-fabulous toy meltdowns. Remember – -there will be A LOT of toys there!
  5. Ditch the big bag. Yes, I’m talking about the giant, behemoth purse or diaper bag you carry so that you always have apple juice, bubbles, your credit cards, a bottle of water, 16 diapers, 3 changes of clothes, crunchies and craisins available at the screech of a toddler. The only things you need are your car keys and your wallet. The TotSwap will provide you with a large, blue Ikea bag to tote your goodies around the sale – – and all other big bags will need to be checked upon arrival.
  6. Be in ‘bargain shopping’ frame of mind. Remember that this is a consignment sale. It may the creme de la creme of consignment sales, but it’s certainly not going to be set-up like an upscale boutique offering the same item in multiple colors and sizes. You’ll be doing some digging (scavenging perhaps?). It’ll be more fun – – and you’re more likely stay longer and find the best deals – -if you keep that bargain hunter mentality!
  7. Be social. Don’t put up your blinders and anti-social shield. There are lots of volunteers who can help you navigate the piles of clothes, toys, and gear. TotSwap has a crew of ‘regulars’ who hit every sale as well. Ask questions. It’s a friendly crowd!
  8. Patience IS a virtue. Robyn and her team have done a fabulous job of streamlining the checkout process with automation and placement strategy. But while the check out lines move pretty quickly, you will need to wait a bit. The great news? The check out line winds through all of the TotSwap vendors. So chat it up as you wait! Baltimore Mommies and Macaroni Kid will both have vendor tables at the sale. We also hear there will be some adorable headbands and clips… First day of school accessory, maybe?
  9. Hydrate – – but before you enter the sale doors. Scouring for bargains takes energy – – so you definitely want to make your at peak performance levels! (Almonds? Peanut Butter and Toast? H20?) But have a snack and hydrate before you come. Drinks and food aren’t permitted on the sale floor in order to keep the merchandise in top shape (who wants an iced-tea stained sweater or game?). If you show up with your BPA-free gallon-sized water bottle, you’ll be asked to check it or stash it in your car.
  10. Volunteer. Volunteers get sustenance (goodies and drinks) provided by TotSwap, get insider knowledge of available items, AND get to shop the pre-sale on Thursday. Oh — and they get to meet fabulous Maryland-area parents, too.
So print out this list, hire a sitter, grab your cash or credit card (remember, no checks), and hit up this weekend’s TotSwap Sale at the Timonium Fairgrounds. The sale is open to the public on Friday and Saturday from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM, and on Sunday from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM.

And be sure to comment and let
us know YOUR best tips for TotSwap navigation!

(cool) tip: Become a fan of the TotSwap on Facebook! Lots of great tips and a fabulous newsletter.