Reviewing the Tot Swap: Is it Worth It?

A couple days ago, I posted about my plans to go and check out my first Tot Swap.

To recap it for you – my strategy was to infiltrate the warehouse like a sale hunting ninja and come out on the other end with just what I actually needed for baby Jack.

However, when you put my friend Lindsay and me together chaos tends to happen, so I anticipated us shoving baby hats on our heads while trying to fit into bouncy seats.

So, how did we do?

We pretty much won gold medals for shopping!

Here’s what we ended up with:

6 month sized clothes
Thought I needed: just a hoodie and a couple pairs of shorts
Purchased: 2 hoodies, 1 overall shorts and 1 pair of shorts
WIN

I would totally wear these if they were in my size!

9 month sized clothes
Thought I needed: everything for Fall
Purchased: A ton of stuff for Fall
WIN (Update: No longer a WIN, once I did all the laundry I realized that I actually bought NO 9 month clothes. Oops. Looks like I’ll be bargain hunting again…)

12 month sized clothes
Thought I needed: everything for Fall/Winter
Purchased: A ton of stuff for Fall/Winter
WIN

18 month sized clothes
Thought I needed: nothing – hold off until he grows more
Purchased: A couple things, but they were only $2!
WIN

Of course Jack needs a Captain Awesome hoodie!

Activity Gym
Thought I needed: one for my mom’s house
Purchased: Yes
WIN

Cheap Organizing Boxes or Baskets
Thought I needed: a few for random areas of my house
Purchased: None, nothing available.
BOO

Crawling to Walking Toys
Thought I needed: 2 – 4 to divide between my house and my parent’s house
Purchased: 3 – 1 Fisher price stand up piano, 1 VTech Paint and Learn, 1 Little Tykes Tool Bench. I would have bought one more piano-type toy, but there weren’t any!
WIN

Books
Thought I needed: Some more cardboard books and anything Dr. Seuss
Purchased: NONE. I felt like they were all super overpriced for a consignment sale
BOO

Childproofing Stuff
Thought I needed: a few things to start childproofing the house
Purchased: None. They had a few things, but not what I was looking for
BOO

Other Stuff
Thought I needed: Nothing Else…unless it was a really good price!
Purchased: a baby sized tonka car and dump truck, an adorable wooden pull toy and a set of blocks with car/truck/plane stuff inside.
WIN

So, if you add up the wins it was definitely worth my time to drive out to the sale and shop.

Some of the Pro’s:

Everything was organized really well
Baby clothes were divided according to gender and size and toys were on tables labeled for babies or older children. There was even a room with some larger stuff like high chairs and cribs. All in all, the sale was really easy to navigate – which is great since it covered such a large area!

There was TONS of stuff
Granted, I went to the sale on the first day that it was open to the public, but holy crap was there a lot of stuff! Each size in clothing spanned over a dozen feet long with two levels of awesomeness to search. The books alone took up an entire row of tables with all the choices, from cardboard books to Dr. Seuss and American Girls.

The prices were great
Okay, this is one that is going in both the Pros and Con’s column. I got some super great deals on shirts/onesies for $2 each, whole outfits for $5 and a Baby Einstein exersaucer * (that retails between $80 – $120) for $25!

A Couple Con’s:

Meet Lindsay — she also needs a Captain Awesome hoodie!

Carrying all the bargains
Thank goodness I brought my pack mule (just kidding Lindsay) because we had so much stuff that we were stumbling around to hold it all! They did provide big Ikea bags for shopping, which were helpful – but it would have been even better if they had some shopping cards available too.

Some prices were not so great
MOST of the pricing was great – however, some people obviously felt like their stuff was worth way more than other people. The typical price for the baby shirts and onesies I got was from $2 – $4, but every so often I’d come across a super cute one for $7! Now $7 doesn’t really sound like much, but when you think about the fact that I could buy THREE other onesies for the same price it just doesn’t make sense!

My huge disappointment of the day was the books area – there were tons of books that I would have loved to buy but I felt like they were priced WAY too high for being used. For example the two books above were probably about 6 pages long and maybe the size of my hand…and they were $2.00 each! Maybe I’m crazy, but I was thinking that books this size would be less than a dollar. I’m going to keep my eyes peeled at thrift stores and online to see if I can get a better deal.

So, was the Tot Swap worth it?

YES! Just take a look at the amount of stuff I got at the sale – it’s a good thing I emptied my trunk before I went.

I purchased 8 different toys and about 30 pieces of clothing and spent…

(drumroll please)

$171.72

Yes, that is kind of a lot of money – but considering the amount of stuff that I bought it is a super bargain. Jack has enough clothes to last him through the end of the year (maybe longer) and I have toys for both my house AND my mom’s house. Score!

The Tot Swap is still going on in Gaithersburg though the weekend. It will also be coming back to the area four more times between now and November:

Gaithersburg, MD
September 19 – 23

Frederick, MD
October 10 – 14

Timonium, MD
October 24 – 28

Howard County, MD
November 7 – 11

So if you have a little one, or even one on the way. I would make it a point to stop by and check one of these sales out. I definitely think that it was worth it – I got to spend the day with my awesome friend, we bought a ton of stuff and even got snow cones on the way home. I consider that a win!

* To any smart mommies out there that are about ready to tell me that the exersaucer I purchased was recalled, yes I already checked. There is a recall in place for the exersaucer I purchased and you are supposed to detach and send back one part of the toy for a replacement – however, it looks like the previous owner already did. YAY!

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5 thoughts on “Reviewing the Tot Swap: Is it Worth It?”

  1. Tot Swap is great for buyers but it sucks for sellers. I did it few times and every time involved my kids and the whole excitement was through the roof. I guess this was the greatest value we gained. As far at the sales, not so much. First time is total disaster when you price your things according to their conditions, price paid minus the use, then you think it will sale like hot cakes because it is from your clean home, worn by only one child few times and so it is in like new condition yet you price it for sale and.. people are passing it like it had a warms on it seeing the item being priced too high while they really have more of a buck or two price expectations even for high end brands.

    First time we went to pick up our things, we brought home almost everything.
    It is so soul crashing to see yourself and others collecting tons and tons and tons of their items hanged on their personalized hangers cleverly marked with some kind of ribbon or sticker or another for quick find among the ton of other items that just like yours, hang looking miserable and sad, touched by million hands and passed by million eyes who decided they are not worthy to go home with them.

    Next time it was bit better, we only pulled really low end items and barely acceptable for sale, yes, clean and yes, no holes and no damage but also we simply got smart too, we simply adjusted the product to the market.
    Once we did that, priced accordingly we sold three quarters of the items.
    Which was so much better then the first round but considering how little you get from the bottom line it makes you kind of sit and cry.
    First of all, the total amount of items is limited.
    If you take that amount and even sell 100 items for 2 dollars which good luck to you! You would end up NOT with 200 bucks but whatever the percentage you get.
    Of course to sell three quarters of your item and have them in such a low end pricing means either you have a lot of junk that you most likely already gave to charity in the first place or you had to underprice your items or.. that you had to somehow compromise in other way.
    If you did it for fun with kids, and just to regain their trust in humanity and your
    worth in salt to be somewhat market smart mom then okay. But if you hope
    to put your kid through college with this or buy a beach house, you might reconsider your strategy.

    Our third sale was the worse ever, Christmas sale. We had lots of toys that we beautifully prepared, finding those fitting pieces and equipping them with brand new batteries (yes they won’t take them otherwise) put us through hours of work right in the busy holiday season when we really had better things to do but hey, the bucks we hoped for kept us going.
    So that sale, turned nobody was shopping for clothing, really, most clothing not just ours but anyone else’s was coming back home AND in scores!
    Our toys sold just fine and probably all but because we priced them to sale not having any other option for them other then to give to charity for free so any few bucks to lift kids spirit and reward them for hard work and learning some work ethics and marketing skills, there was no material gain of any sort when we added the cost of new batteries and time I could spend simply doing overtime at my work.

    Overall as I said, if you are doing it for fun, then sure, if you are doing it to give your kids opportunity to do something different and learn skills then view it as an expensive lesson that might be worthy. Otherwise, lots of time invested is not translated in the money you will get from it.
    If you think of how long does it take to collect all the items, put them in one place, inspect, sort, clean, wash, iron, describe/label, print, get your special tagging gun and those fish bone tag hangers, and of course you need your little plastic hangers to send with your items that do not come back to you if you sell the item, then add the time that it takes to hang properly, tag properly,
    position just as they ask .. was it question mark or the opposite the hanger has to face? I don’t even remember but yes, if you miss that expect to have to redo it on the spot and under the pressure.
    Then you need to make the delivery, which is somehow never time friendly, there are lines, there is inspection, there is a wait, there is hanging the items yourself in the spaces provided, and placing your toys or books in other places strategically..
    So add the time, the fuel, the batteries if bought, and think what you would get if you put this time in use if you had another opportunity, because frankly you won’t see a minimum wage back on your work.

    If you made 150 buck but worked 10 hours, which easily can add up to this.. all the time that takes the above.. to collect, to prepare, to wash, to iron, to tag, to put in baskets, to drive there to deliver, to wait in lines to pass inspection, to hang, to come back home, to drive there and back to collect..

    So if you put 10 hours and made 150 bucks, you got paid a minimum wage on your work and the worth of your items come to nothing. It is like if you were
    to work at the restaurant for one shift, come home and give it all to charity you probably will be less tired and less frustrated then with all the hoopla of swapping event.

    To end with few random thoughts:
    – I had much more satisfying experience with selling on eBay because I had zero stress of when I have to deliver it and what condition it is in or isn’t. Ebay takes it all, you put what you got and they decide, the people. It can be a single item sale, it can be bunch of things that I prefer at this time. Just bunch by size and functions and people love it. Many parents just wants to get deal that way to get a whole lot of things for one price in one box and see what they are getting and make sure it all matches so doing their work is half of success.
    To me it is also easier and more fun to put together a collection as I see it and as I bought it to be used for my kids and I price it not the rock bottom but what is worth for a buyer who would otherwise need to buy new or used but from someone who does not have exact sense of style and cute.

    I learned to avoid disappointment from going to places that shark you out on
    the fact that they only provide room and overhead sale service while it is not their investment and not their items and then they push people to sale for as little as possible to make most profit on the turn around that translates as miserable outcome for the sellers.

    The main problem with places like Tot Swap or those other kids consignment style stores in the area is that they rely on the bottom buck sales, that problem is not for a buyer of course, yes, great for the buyer!
    But if you are a seller, and I am writing from this perspective, you are doomed.
    The bottom price mentality passes on anything and everything decent, that frankly hanged among less then perfect items makes not only your item also look bad but makes you think you are overpaying while you are not.

    I had items from GAP that I bought for 100 bucks each, that I tried to sell at Tot Swap at 25 bucks and nobody gave it a look, but sold on eBay in auction for 75 and a change plus the buyer paid for shipping.

    If you have big toys that are awkward and do not make sense to ship as they will cost a tone, some playground junk , or used bikes that will cost more in shipping then in the item, some toddler beds and such, do sell even for few bucks at Tot Swap as this is your gain over long distance sales. Otherwise whatever you can sell in other way if you are in for some return, then Tot Swap is a hard pass.

    I learned that NOT marking items for “donate to charity” if not sale makes more sense then marking them as such. For one, if you still want them to go to charity, they sure will go automatically if you won’t pick them up. However if you will mark them as donate, somehow they tended to never being sold not one while the other unmarked would sell for what was expected to sell. Can’t rationalize that one.

    Bunch your stuff. For instance if you have five onesies that you would like to get 3 bucks for each.. put five on five hangers and tie them with a ribbon make a set, and price them instead of 15 bucks.. 10 bucks. and list as one item one set..
    People like this and they will never find your five individually priced 3 buck onesies.
    Do the same with T-shirts and little pants. Sets sells better. I think there is some lot pricing thinking involved.

    Big items like toddler beds, furniture, big toys, sand boxes, ride on toys,
    bicycles, have to be priced so low .. so low. that you need really cut the last lowest price you can think of by half probably to get there.

    Good luck to you all.

    1. Thanks so much on your feedback as a seller at the Tot Swap! I have found my most luck with bundling clothes and selling the groups on Poshmark. You still don’t make a ton of money, but you get a little something and the clothes go to another kid that can use them!

  2. What is the average age for toys ? I have a 6-1/2 and 4 yo grandsons and looking for some toys to keep in my house.

    1. Hi Susan – I went quite a few years ago, but if I remember correctly it did tend to be for younger children. However, it could be very different now!

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