How Do Kids Resale Stores Really Work?

Most parents agree: Kids grow up so fast, but they grow out of their clothing even quicker. On average, a child will grow anywhere from two to five inches per year. This means those designer jeans you just bought for your child? They will probably start looking like designer capris before the season is over.

Fortunately, children’s resale stores exist as an option for keeping up with a growing child’s needs without breaking the bank. They’re also a good way to sell those items that your child has outgrown — and make a bit of money in return.

How It Works

A children’s resale shop works similarly to a consignment shop, but with a bonus: At a resale store, the seller can expect to receive cash upfront for their items.

“At a consignment store, you take in an item, agree on a price, and you don’t get paid until that item is sold,” says Kim Burtner, owner of three Once Upon a Child resale stores in Indianapolis. “A resale store is different because we pay cash on the spot.”

Once the seller has dropped off their items, they are free to shop while the store staff goes through the items and decides what to buy. When the staff is finished, and the seller is ready to check out, the resale store is ready to pay cash for the items that the store thinks it can resell.

What They Will Buy

Burtner says that safety and the condition of the items are the two most important factors when deciding what to buy from the customer.

“We inspect the items for safety recalls, and then for condition,” she says. “We key the product into the computer based on brand and size and choose a value for it. The computer then generates what we should sell it for and what the customer will get paid.”

Gently used clothing, shoes, toys and baby gear are some of the things you can sell — and buy — at a resale store. And the better condition that the items are in, the more interested the resale store will be in buying your used items.

“The items should be freshly laundered, folded and organized,” Burtner says, pointing out that the easier the seller makes it for the store, the more the store is likely to buy. “And obviously, if we purchase more, the dollar amount goes up at the end of the transaction.”

When organizing items to sell, resale shops like Once Upon a Child like to see clothing tops and bottoms paired together, especially for younger sizes. Toys and baby equipment should be complete and in good working order.

“If it’s a toy, make sure all the pieces are with it,” Burtner says. “The same goes for baby equipment. Make sure all the working pieces are included, right down to every screw that holds it together.”

Sellers can expect to be able to sell most of their gently used children’s items, but Burtner says that there is one thing they will not buy for safety reasons.

“We do not purchase car seats,” Burtner says, because it is difficult to tell if a car seat has been damaged from an accident. Other things a resale shop will not buy are items that just do not resell well, including stuffed animals.

“Honestly, if we bought them, the whole store would be full of stuffed animals,” Burtner says with a laugh. “You would be walking into a maze of stuffed animals. They just don’t resell.”

Since opening her first Once Upon a Child store in Indianapolis more than 27 years ago, Burtner says that she’s learned a lot about what sells and what doesn’t. Items that don’t sell well — and that resale shops most likely will not buy — include bedding and room décor. Anything that involves personal hygiene, such as breast pumps, are also tough to sell to resale shops.

“Occasionally we will purchase those items if they’re sealed, brand new and in their original packaging, but it’s a judgement call,” Burtner says.

What You Can Save

Making money by selling used items is great, but so is saving money when it’s time to purchase items for your own children. Burtner says that shoppers at resale stores can save some serious money compared to buying the same items at a retail store.

“On average, shoppers can expect to save around 60 percent off retail, depending on what it is that they’re looking for,” Burtner says. And because resale stores like Once Upon a Child are picky about the quality of items they buy and sell, shoppers can rest assured that they’re getting a good value.

“Many people are surprised at the quality of clothing” Burtner says. They’ll often say, ‘These are used?’ That’s the #1 question that we receive from a new customer.

Sponsored by:

Once Upon a Child has six stores in the Indianapolis area. Visit Burtner’s stores on their website at, and stop by to buy or sell at these three convenient locations:

1210 W. 86th Street, Indianapolis. Phone: 317-846-7011

5990 E. 71st Street, Indianapolis. Phone: 317-842-0533

7409 South US 31, Indianapolis. Phone: 317-888-7013

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