Once Upon a Child Consignment: 5 Ways to Get the Most Money Selling (and Other Popular FAQ’S)

Once Upon A Child is a national consignment chain that buys and sells gently used kids “stuff” – clothing, toys, strollers, baby gear, and more.

With brands that vary from ultra high end to more budget-friendly labels, Once Upon A Child carries a wide variety. I even see a number of SHEIN kids’ garments there.

I love to go to Once Upon A Child to hunt for brand name treasures on the cheap. But even more, I love to sell my gently used kids clothing to Once Upon A Child. I have a lot of luck selling baby and kids clothing there that doesn’t sell in Facebook buy sell groups.

Brand names like Children’s Place, Gymboree, Carter’s, Old Navy, Jumping Beans, Cat & Jack, and GAP do very well at Once Upon A Child. The retailer will pay cash on the spot for these labels.

I’ll go over the 5 ways I’ve found to get top resale dollar selling at Once Upon A Child in the next section. At the bottom of this article, I cover some common FAQs about selling, buying, and returning at Once Upon A Child.

HOW DO YOU GET THE MOST MONEY AT ONCE UPON A CHILD?

1| Clean Clothes Sell Better

You’re not going to bring in vomit-covered onesies deliberately. But freshly laundered clothing looks and smells best.

Clean clothing tossed aside in a box starts to crumple and smell stale. And there’s the odd faint stain you might have missed. Toss the clothing through the wash and dryer first. I wash everything together and put in a couple of Shout color guard sheets.

While I can be picky about drying my own kids’ clothing, these garments are headed out the door. Colors that look and smell crisp, vibrant, and free of wrinkles will sell better.

Store associates are human. Buying used clothing is an art, not a science, and they use their best judgment and buy what they think will sell.

2 | Create Outfits

I’ve tossed into Target bags outfit pieces that were not pinned together. Along with plenty of free floating mix-and-match coordinates. The store associate will know they go together, right?

Wrong.

Sometimes they’ll catch it, sometimes they won’t. Make it easy for them. Pin sets together.

Got a L’ovedbaby onesie that goes with those L’ovedbaby pants? Same fabric, same color family, and same size? Pin them together.

I’ve had set tops accepted for purchase and matching bottoms rejected by clerks. Until I’ve pointed out the items made a set and the buyer might want them together.

Not only will creating outfits help you sell more of your items, you’ll get top dollar. Sets sell for more money, so the store will be able to offer you more money for an outfit vs separates.

Even if it’s denim jeans and a raglan tee. If they’re the same brand and size, I’d pin them together as an outfit.

3 | Look Through the Rejects Pile

Look through your rejects pile for anything the store associate may have missed.

No, don’t harangue the poor store clerk by telling them how amazing that brand is and how you bought it in New York City and posh moms love it.

But look for obvious misses. Like the store clerk is buying the Frozen nightgown, but not the matching Frozen robe. They’re buying the dress, but they missed the coordinating leggings.

This helps the store, it helps the next buyer, and it helps you get more money.

Of course, maybe the clerk deliberately passed on the leggings because of a rip or stain that you missed. That’s possible, but always ask.

4 | Sell for the Right Season

When you’re planning for winter coats and snow pants, so is Once Upon A Child. And when you’re unboxing swim suits and summer gear, Once Upon A Child is getting ready for summer too.

While most stores (maybe all) say that they buy all seasons all year round, stores have limited storage. Give yourself the best chance for top dollar. Bring in winter gear when winter gear is popular and summer gear when summer is popular.

If you try to sell a snowsuit when the store is buying for summer, they’re going to be a lot more picky. A mint condition Patagonia snowsuit will sell at any time of year, but a so-so condition Cat & Jack snowsuit will only go during the snowy or snow-prepping months.

5 | Try, Try Again

If you’re leaving a Once Upon A Child store with a bag of rejected items, don’t fret. You’ve still got a bag of clothing waiting to turn into cash.

I ONCE HAD AN 18M PARTY DRESS THAT SOLD AFTER OVER A YEAR OF TRYING.

Assuming all of the items are clean and in good shape, bring the garments to a different Once Upon A Child store location if you’re lucky enough to live in a metro area with multiples.

I live 3.5 miles away from 2 different Once Upon A Child stores. I’ll hit up the St. Louis Park store first with a paper grocery bag full of clothing. I can usually clear $10 to $20. Whatever doesn’t sell there, I’ll bring to the Minnetonka store location where I can usually clear another $10 to $20.

I’m not pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes. Rather, I’m aware of how biases can work when it comes to buying clothes. The buyer’s bias is to want to buy some things, and to reject some to most things.

Bias and decision fatigue are real obstacles. From candidates interviewed for jobs to prisoners up for parole, the decision hinges upon bias. Studies show they’re less likely to grant you parole, no matter how deserving, if the last candidate in their stack of paper was granted parole. (You’re also less likely to be granted parole if your freedom stands between the review committee and their lunch.)

If careful scrutiny of my garments comes between the store clerk and their lunch break (where they need to call their landlord and their son’s school), fewer of my items are going to be purchased. If the clerk just bought a cardboard box of amazing designer goods, my bag of used Carter’s sweatpants will pale in comparison. Lineup matters.

Each store clerk is a fresh set of eyes and a fresh opinion on a fresh encounter.

I once had an 18M party dress that sold after over a year of trying. It was in my paper bag of Once Upon A Child rejects (in the trunk of my SUV), and I never culled it. Every time I went to Once Upon A Child to sell, it came in the store because it was in the bag. On the fifth or sixth try, that dress sold.

Here are some common FAQs about buying and selling clothes from Once Upon A Child.

WHAT DOES ONCE UPON A CHILD BUY?

Once Upon A Child buys baby and kids clothing from size preemie to 20 (youth).

Here’s a list of what Once Upon A Child buys:

  • Baby apparel
  • Children’s apparel
  • Kids’ formal wear (including jackets, ties, bow ties, suspenders, sweaters that itch, and shoes that pinch)
  • Swimwear
  • Dancewear (including leotards, tutus, ballet shoes, and tap shoes)
  • Outerwear
  • Sleepwear and pajamas
  • Costumes and dress-up clothing
  • Athletic wear and athleisurewear
  • Footwear (shoes, snow boots, rain boots, water shoes, sneakers, sandals, dance shoes, and clogs)
  • Toys for babies to age 8 (books, DVD’s, electronic toys, activity toys, board games, learning toys, kitchen sets, bicycles and tricycles, ride-on toys, puzzles, and outdoor toys like slides)
  • Baby gear (bath tubs, bed rails, baby monitors, bike trailers, diaper care, bouncers and entertainers, booster seats, baby gates, high chairs, strollers for singles and multiples, jogger strollers, baby swings, play yards, potty chairs, and bike trailers) **Once Upon A Child does not buy car seats or breast pumping equipment.
  • Furniture for littles (bassinets, cribs, dressers, changing tables, cradles, gliders, bookshelves, table and chair sets, toy chests and toy boxes, toddler beds)

HOW MUCH DOES ONCE UPON A CHILD GIVE YOU FOR SHOES?

While it can vary by store location, expect to get about 15% of whatever the store will sell the shoes for. So if that Once Upon a Child store location will sell the boots for $10, expect to get $1.50.

At the Once Upon A Child store locations in my area, the associates have told me they offer 15-cents on the dollar for whatever they will resell clothing and shoes for.

HOW MUCH DOES ONCE UPON A CHILD GIVE YOU FOR SELLING CLOTHING AND GEAR?

You can get 15% of whatever the store will price the clothing for and 30% of whatever they will list the gear for.

These are the buying rates offered at the Once Upon A Child stores in my area. They could vary at your local store; just ask a sales associate at your nearest location.

By gear, that includes wagons, strollers, pack ‘n plays or portable play yards, and changing tables. In some instances, toys (i.e. play kitchens) may be considered gear and purchased at a higher rate.

I had one reader claim that Once Upon A Child pays higher amounts. This surprised me since I have been to a number of OUAC stores and talked to several employees and more than one franchise owner. However, the Once Upon A Child has a franchise business model. If the business owner wants to buy clothes from local parents at a higher rates, this may be at their discretion.

SHOULD I WASH CLOTHES FROM ONCE UPON A CHILD?

Personally, I would wash clothes I bought from Once Upon a Child. Even clothing that was re-sold brand new with tags. You don’t know where and how these clothes were worn and if they were ever washed. 

HOW DO YOU BRING CLOTHES TO ONCE UPON A CHILD?

  1. Bring your items to Once Upon A Child during regular store hours. Near the end of day (within 1 hour of close, or earlier), the store will stop accepting items for purchase and you may have to return the next day.
  2. Clothing should be laid flat and brought in a tote, box, or laundry basket. Do not bring clothing in a plastic bag. Some locations may refuse to accept items brought in a plastic bag. (Workaround: go back to your car, ditch the plastic bag, and carry in your clothes.)
  3. Check in. If you’ve not sold before, you will need to register and present ID. It takes a couple minutes.
  4. Get paid cash. Once Upon A Child will notify you by text once they’ve reviewed your items and prepared a purchase offer. At some store locations, you can even go back home and they’ll call you later on in the day. They will not give you an offer over the phone. You must return to the store for your offer.

CAN YOU RETURN TO ONCE UPON A CHILD?

Yes, you can return regular priced merchandise to Once Upon a Child. You have a 7-day window and all tags must be attached.

DOES ONCE UPON A CHILD WASH THEIR CLOTHES?

No, Once Upon a Child does not launder clothing they purchase. They ask that any clothing you sell be freshly laundered. It’s also advised you wash any clothing you buy there before your child wears it.

HOW DO ONCE UPON A CHILD POINTS WORK?

Earn points for every $10 you spend that you can redeem for coupons like $5 off, $10 off, or 15% to 20% off your entire purchase. At most stores, you can even earn 1 point per visit just by skipping the bag.

That’s the setup at my favorite store location. I’ve seen other stores with point rewards slightly more or slightly less generous.

They add up. With loyalty points, I’ve scored Hanna Andersson jammies for $6 to $8.

Figure out your loyalty point balance right away when you get to the store. I always check in when I arrive and before I start shopping. I “check in” by entering my number into the iPad app at the counter to see how many points I am at and if I have an available reward.

ARE THERE ONCE UPON A CHILD STORES IN CANADA?

There are 54 Once Upon A Child stores in Canada according to the site’s store locator tool, with over half of them in Ontario.

  • Alberta: 10
  • British Columbia: 9
  • Manitoba: 3
  • New Brunswick: 1
  • Nova Scotia: 1
  • Ontario: 30
  • Saskatchewan: 3

This suggests explosive growth in recent years. A 2016 Retail Insider article stated there were only 22 Once Upon A Child stores in Canada. While that published figure may have been off, it does seem to demonstrate growth. Typically, older business sources overstate the number of store locations for a business, not the reverse.

With over 400 locations in the US and Canada combined, there’s bound to be a store location in your community.

HOW CAN I FIND A ONCE UPON A CHILD STORE NEAR ME?

Customers can find a a nearby Once Upon A Child by using the site’s store locator tool. I recommend using this tool over Google search results. More than once, I’ve driven to a store based on Google’s top search result or the top Yelp result only to find the store no longer existed.

Also, connect with other parents in your community. They’ll let you know the best Once Upon A Child store to shop and sell at. Instagram, Facebook, and Reddit are the best ways I’ve found helpful parent groups.

WHAT ARE ONCE UPON A CHILD STORE HOURS? IS ONCE UPON A CHLD OPEN ON SUNDAYS?

Store hours vary by location, but Once Upon A Child stores are open 7 days a week except for major holidays. Hours will vary at each location, even within the same metro area.

Within my metro area I’ve found 4 different store open times for Once Upon A Child stores on Saturdays with all stores closing by 8PM. For Sunday, there is even more variance. With open times ranging from 10AM to 12PM and close times ranging from 5PM to 8PM.

For a broader national picture, I looked at other Once Upon A Child Sunday hours in other states. I chose Sunday specifically since that’s a day of the week when many stores are commonly closed – especially in the South. Looking at Mississippi and Alabama as a reference point, all of their stores are open on Sunday from 11AM – 6PM or 12PM – 6PM.

Takeaway: Stores are open 7 days a week. Check hours before you head out the door. Also, get there as close to opening time as possible if you plan to sell your gently used items.

WHAT BRANDS DOES ONCE UPON A CHILD SELL?

Once Upon a Child pretty much sells any clothing brand that exists – as long as the garment is in good shape and a current style. That said, there are some brands that you will frequently find.

Most Popular Brands at Once Upon a Child

  • GAP
  • Old Navy
  • Carter’s
  • Cat & Jack
  • Cherokee (older Target)
  • Jumping Beans
  • Burt’s Bees Baby
  • Disney
  • Ralph Lauren Polo
  • First Impressions
  • Jessica Simpson
  • Gymboree
  • Children’s Place
  • OshKosh B’Gosh

Other Popular Brands You Can Find at Once Upon a Child

These are some other brands you’ll find at Once Upon a Child. These brands are coveted but less commonly sold. You’ll find fewer items, they are going to be priced a bit higher, and may not always be in your needed size. But if you dig on your trip, you can commonly find these other brands.

Other brands, like Jamie Kay, Rylee + Cru, Quincy Mae, Mini Rodini, Lulu + Roo (Little Road Co), or Childhoods, are going to be unicorn finds.

I’ve happened upon Quincy Mae, Rylee + Cru, and Lulu & Roo in Once Upon a Child. In each instance, the brand was very under-priced (compared to what it would sell for in an online consignment group or website).

I like to hunt for more niche brands at Once Upon a Child but I would not sell them there.

OTHER TIPS FOR BUYING AND SELLING AT ONCE UPON A CHILD

Here are some other tips for scoring top dollar or top treasures from Once Upon A Child.

  • Register for the rewards program. You get occasional text message alerts about special promotions – it’s not a lot of spam. It’s free. The points never go anywhere. You’ll probably be there again at some point in your lifetime.
  • Register for multiple different stores’ rewards programs. Once Upon A Child stores are franchise locations. Different stores will have different promotions so stay updated. At the Eden Prairie store, for example, I like to shop when dresses are 50% or 70% off.
  • Be nice to the clerks. Goes without saying, but I’ve seen moms get truly pissy when their super-amazing goods were passed over. Or when they found out that the store had stopped buying for the rest of the day. Your future store trips are going to get awkward. Plus, store associates use computer algorithms and their best judgment when looking at goods for purchase. If they’re on the fence about your hoodie and you were just super-salty, do you think they’re going to rule in your favor?
  • Sell in the morning. If you can’t sell during the week, get there early Saturday morning when doors open.
  • Set aside at least an hour to shop. You need time to sift through all the racks and dig through the shoe bins. I find “boy” clothes in the “girl” section frequently, as well as items in the wrong size section. Also gender neutral kids’ clothes are generally placed in the boys’ section – but not always. Overall, the stores are well organized but shoppers do put things back in the wrong place.
  • Double check all the clothing sections. When I shop 4T for my daughter, for example, there’s one section for general clothing. Then there are separate sections in the store for swimwear, pajamas, dresses, outerwear, dress-up clothing, and dancewear. Hit up all the sections for your size.
  • Leave the kids at home when possible. Yes, there are used toys for them to play with. But from what I’ve observed, this doesn’t go well. My daughter wants me to look at her. Or she wants me to stand in the toy section with her. And she always needs to go potty, again.
  • Ask what’s behind the counter. I’ll let the store associates know the brands I’m shopping for and ask if there are any brands like that behind the counter that they are getting ready to put out. 9 times out of 10, the answer is yes. They’ve even let me look through a clothing rack behind the counter filled with Boden, Tea Collection, and Hanna Andersson. (This is an exception and not my expectation.)
  • Shop early in the day. Shop on a Saturday afternoon, the racks are going to be picked over. Go during the middle of week, and the racks and shelves are much more densely packed with treasures.

12 comments

  1. […] Once Upon A Child can be a major treasure trove of trendy clothes from coveted, popular labels. Target, Walmart, GAP, and Old Navy are by far the most popular brands I’ve seen carried there. But I’ve found lots of other brands there, including Zara, Quincy Mae, Rylee + Cru, Hanna Andersson, Mini Boden, L’ovedbaby, KicKee Pants, Rags, Tea Collection, UGG, Nike, L.L. Bean, Land’s End, Matilda Jane, and Jamie Kay. […]

  2. This article is very inaccurate. Once Upon A Child pays up to 45% of their selling price, not 10-15%. Default is 30-45% depending on the price and the computer determines it. Higher the selling price, higher the percentage. The computer won’t allow you to only pay 10-15%. Where did you get this number?

    • I would love to sell at your Once Upon A Child store! The franchises I have shopped, in the Twin Cities Metro Area (Minnesota) do not pay 45%.

      15% for what they will sell the apparel for is the price they pay — store employees have told me this and this is what I have received – ie $1.50 for Hanna Andersson pajamas the store lists for $10.

      The information in this is article is very accurate for my specific area. Which stores pay 45%? I might have to road trip…

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