Saving Money and Getting Cash :: Tot Trade vs Once Upon a Child


Nothing reminds us of how fast our children are growing up like the growing piles of clothes they outgrow seemingly overnight. Along with them going up in size, they are also going up in cost.

When my son was around four months old, I learned about the local semi-annual pop-up consignment sale, Tot Trade, where I eventually began loading up on affordable clothes and gear he was so rapidly outgrowing. By the time he was a year old, my mother-in-law introduced me to Once Upon a Child, a resale franchise that hosts discounted prices on gently used name-brand children’s items.

While I was initially drawn to both for shopping, I eventually began to sell with them as well to make a little extra money and clear out all of the stuff my children were getting too big for. I clearly learned a thing or two along the way because now I only shop retail when there was something I absolutely can’t find at Tot Trade or Once Upon a Child, or my kids need shoes (they are so tough on shoes).

Here are some tips to help you sell with Tot Trade and Once Upon a Child.

What to Sell

To consign your items with Tot Trade, you have to first register as a consignor and pay the current consignor’s fee for each sale.

Once Upon a Child is free to for individuals to resell their items to them and requires I.D. every time you visit their buying counter.

Tot Trade and Once Upon A Child both accept gently used children’s clothing, shoes, books/media, games, toys, baby gear, and furniture. Tot Trade keeps Mama in mind and accepts home décor, select furniture, handbags, kitchen gadgets, electronics, and garden décor. Visit their websites to get a more detailed list of acceptable items. Once Upon a Child also requests that customers call first to find out their most wanted items.

Item Prep

When selling your items to Once Upon a Child, clothing must be in ready-to-wear condition and neatly folded or laid flat in a box, bin, or tote. Toys and equipment must be in working condition, include all parts, and meet safety standards.

Tot Trade has a more extensive item prep which involves entering your items in their system, hanging, and tagging your items for inspection and placement on the sales floor.

Making Cash

Once Upon a Child boasts cash on the spot for your gently used items. However, they are very selective of the items they purchase. If they have too many of certain items or there simply isn’t any demand, the buyer may send you home with an almost full bin and just enough money for dinner for two at McDonald’s. I once brought home just under $100 for a single bin but it was filled with hand-me-down name-brand clothes, some still with tags. The next time I sold to them I received a little over $20 and a half-full bin of clothes.

With Tot Trade, you get a check at the end of the sale for the items that sell minus the percentage that goes back to Tot Trade. You can increase the percentage of sales on your items by volunteering. Tot Trade volunteers can earn a higher percentage on the sale of their items by up to 75%. Another way to increase your earnings is by marking your items to discount in order to increase the chance of them getting sold on discount sale days. Of course, the greater the number of items you consign the greater your chance of a big check at the end of the sale.

Tot Trade

When to Shop

Tot Trade holds its spring/summer sale in March and fall/winter sale in September. It’s a four-day public shopping event starting on Wednesday and ending on Saturday. However, if you qualify for their different presales, you can shop as early as Sunday. Discount days are Thursday-Saturday. They don’t have shopping carts so shoppers have to bring something to carry their haul in like laundry baskets with wheels or empty wagons/baby strollers.

Once Upon a Child has affordable prices all year long, but their best sales are the seasonal clearance sales which usually occur around December and June. Their clearance events last for weeks and the discounts increase all the way to 90% off the ticket price.

I usually shop Tot Trade for seasonal changes in wardrobe and Once Upon a Child for midseason growth spurts and to stock up on the next size up.

The Final Verdict

After six years of shopping and selling at both Tot Trade and Once Upon a Child, I’ve figured out my way around both. Here are my thoughts on which areas they exceed in:

Tot Trade is best for:

  • Seasonal wardrobe change
  • Overall breathe of selection
  • Amount of payout for items (especially if you’re selling high-demand, nonclothing items)

Once Upon a Child is best for:

  • Least amount of effort for prepping items to sale
  • Quick payout
  • Stocking up on the next size up (during clearance sales)
  • Year-round selling and shopping

Have you sold items with Tot Trade and Once Upon a Child? What has your experience been?

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Shacoya Jacobs
Shacoya is a devoted wife, mother of an Âûsome son (‘16) and vivacious daughter (‘19), and caretaker of her loving mother. Columbia became her home after surviving sunburn and mosquito bites to meet and fall in love with her husband while they were working at the Riverbanks Zoo gift shop. Her love of writing began when she won the Young Author’s Award in the fourth grade and culminated in her writing a 50,000+ word novel in 30 days for the annual National Novel Writing Month challenge, NaNoWriMo, in 2019. Along with writing, Shacoya also enjoys the art of fake 'n bakin’ (making premade ingredients taste like homemade), developing the skill of actually using the pins on her Pinterest boards, fangirling Richland Library, window shopping on Etsy, and learning about ways to be a better human being.


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