I consign all their clothes that I can and I buy all of their clothes that I can from consignment sales.
Your area of the country (or of the world) may not work exactly the same as mine, but usually there are a lot of similarities in sales so I'll just tell you how it works around here. (I just wanted to interject that I have never consigned clothes at a store, just at weekend sales. So I really can't give advice on using a consignment store.)
How consignment sales work:
OK, around here, people organize weekend consignment sales. They run from Wed or Thurs thru Sat, with Sat being a half-price day. Each organizer runs 2 sales a year, one in the Spring for Spring and Summer clothes/items and one in the Fall for Fall and Winter clothes/items. Toys and baby items are sold at both. As a consignor, you sign up with whoever is running the sale (most of the sales have websites). They give you a consignor number and directions on preparing your items. You prepare your items according to their directions (i.e. hanger must turn to left, tag pinned to top right of garment, multiple pieces in a set pinned together, etc). Then on drop-off day, take your items to the sale site. They will hang them/sort them/get them set out for the sale. Usually there are 1-2 days for drop-off before the sale starts. During the sale, the organizers will keep track of all the tags (which each have your consignor number on it). At the end you get a percentage of the sales from your items. The sales that I have participated in have given either 60 or 70% of your sales back to you. The remainder of the sales go to the organizer. That's their incentive to hold the event. Some organizers run sales as fundraisers and some just run it for profit. At the end of the sale you can either pick up the items that haven't sold and take them back home with you, or you can leave them at the sale site and the organizers will donate them to a charity of their choice.
Which sale do I pick?
Those are the mechanics of the sales. Now for specifics. If you have never consigned before, my suggestion is to visit several sales before you pick one to consign at. While you are there shopping, consider these questions:
How many items do they have? The more items, the more draw for people to shop and the better chance you have of your items selling.
How do they advertise? Word of mouth is great, but you want to invest in a sale that draws lots of people in. Look for signs on the side of the road, flyers at preschools/churches.
Where is it held? Once again, the bigger, the better, in terms of being a consignor. If the sale is in someone's basement, don't expect a huge turnout. If they rent out a ballroom at the local conference center, expect a big sale, lots of people and lots of sales for you.
Look at the tags. They tell you a lot. Most sales let you choose per item if you want it to sell at half-price on Sat. Make sure you consign at a sale that does. Also, you should have the option per item to donate it or pick it back up if it doesn't sell. You can also tell by the tag whether the organizers use a computer system for you to enter your tag info or if you have to write it yourself. A computerized system with barcodes on the tags usually makes for a more secure sale (less human error involved in determining which money goes to which consignor).
Remember your goal is to get rid of outgrown/unused items in your house and make a little money in the process. So as you pick a sale, keep that goal in mind.
Tomorrow I'll let you know the best way to package strange shaped items and what the benefits of consigning are (besides the ones stated above).