I wrote about my first visit to the Tot Swap here and my second over here. Like last time, I wasn’t really planning to write about the Tot Swap again, however I went yesterday and scribbled down some tips that I think might be beneficial to some other shoppers out there.
At this month’s event, I was really hoping to find the Little Tikes Crazy Coupe Truck. We live out in the country and my husband is a car/truck kinda guy, so I’m pretty much obsessed with this cool kiddie truck. Not only can I push Jack around in it now, when he gets a little bigger I can remove the footplate so he can ride around in it alone and play pretend with the working tailgate and gas cap. I saw on the Tot Swap’s Facebook page that a consigner was planning to have one for sale, so when I entered the building (after standing in a long, long line of excited shoppers) I briskly walked straight to the outdoor toys section. Nope. No truck – so it looks like I’ll continue stalking Craigslist and online sales.
I did have some luck finding a Little Tikes Deluxe Cozy Convertible for just $18, so I snapped that up before someone else could lay claim to it. I also got a few pairs of shorts, an adorable t-shirt and a bunch of toys that I can split between our house and my mom’s house for Jack to play with. I’d post pictures of everything, but I got home late from work last night and it’s all still living in my SUV.*
If you are planning to go to your first Tot Swap (or even your 3 or 9th), here are 5 tips to help you survive:
#1. No Kids!
Kids ARE allowed at the Tot Swap, I just think that you should leave them at home. The Tot Swap is super busy and there is a TON of stuff for everyone to go through. When you have small children running around or sitting on/playing with toys that are for sale, it can be very frustrating. Also, parents blocking entire aisles with their huge strollers are not only annoying to other shoppers but it’s hard for them to even get down some of the aisles to shop! Most importantly, it can be dangerous because some rude shoppers shove through the aisles and may knock your child aside without even realizing it.
If you absolutely MUST bring your child, stick him in an Ergo carrier and strap him to you. Oh yeah, and DON’T use him as a weapon when trying to check out something that someone else is trying out! You wouldn’t believe how many times I was body-checked with an infant! So if you have someone who can watch your kids, use them. Maybe even do a little trade – watch your friend’s kid while she shops and then switch off so that she can watch yours. It’s not only a benefit to the other shoppers; it’s nice for YOU because you don’t have to hear “mom, mom MOM, MOM MOMMY, I WANT THIS!!” 15,000 times.
#2. Know What You Want
These consignment sales can be incredibly overwhelming; there are aisles and aisles of toys, children’s clothes, strollers, and more. Before you even enter the building, go through what you have at home and make a list of what you need. Determine the ‘hot item’ on your list and go straight there first! Even though I had some clothes and toys on my list, I KNEW that outdoor toys would be really popular since the weather is finally starting to get warm. So I went straight there and STILL hardly had anything to choose from!
#3 Price Check
All of the items at the Tot Swap are being sold by different people and many times there are multiples of each item. For example, there were probably 20 of the exact same Leap Frog toy that I liked. Check out a few of them, instead of just grabbing the first one you see. Often some will be missing pieces and others will include a complete set. There are also always differences in sale prices, since everyone is labeling their own items for sale. In the stack of Leap Frog toys, the prices ranged from $5 – 15 for the exact same toy!
#4 Shop for Gifts
There are always a ton of items that are for sale in their original, unopened packaging. It’s insane that a brand new item is being sold at a Tot Swap for more than half off its normal price. If you have little people that you’re buying for (think about any upcoming birthday’s or holidays), it is a good idea to pick up a few things while you’re sorting through the stuff.
#5 Be Nice
Look ladies (and the few men who come), this is not war. You’re trying to find inexpensive kids toys and clothes and if you miss out on something there is NO REASON to be a total asshat about it. Be nice. Chat with the other people in line with you and say “excuse me” as you squeeze past your fellow shoppers.
There you go, I don’t think I could possibly have anything else to say about the Tot Swap after my THIRD post on the subject. Maybe I’ll just call it a trilogy and pretend that was my intention the entire time?
How about you – do you go to consignment sales or yard sales? Share your tips in the comments!
*Some of the musical/talking toys don’t have an off button and I scared the crap out of myself on my ride into work this morning when a few of them would randomly go off and sing to me in a creepy-pedophile-in-my-backseat kind of way.