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Tot Trade :: An Insider’s Guide to Shopping Columbia’s Largest Children’s Consignment Sale

Disclosure :: This post is brought to you by Tot Trade, but the opinions and experiences shared are entirely our own.

tot tradeIf you are outfitting one child or several, it gets expensive. And when they’re little, they rapidly outgrow all of their clothes and toys, so it feels like you are constantly replacing items.

How fun would it be if you could go to one place where all of your favorite department stores were housed in one location? You know, a ‘one stop shop’ where you can find just about everything you need for your kids from newborn and up?

There is such a place, check out Tot Trade! Their next event starts soon at the Jamil Temple (206 Jamil Road, Columbia 29210), and trust us, you don’t want to miss it! (see Sales Dates and Times below for more information).

Details About the Event

kelly graybill tot trade

If you see Kelly while shopping, say hello!

Tot Trade was founded in 1997 by Kelly Graybill. Kelly, a former retail manager, was inspired to start Tot Trade after becoming a stay-at-home mom. The first year Tot Trade had only 36 consignors. It has now grown to 1000+ consignors and sometimes there is even a waiting list!

Children’s merchandise fills the entire Jamil Temple (36,000 sq.ft), in addition to an outside space. Talk about an AMAZING sale where you can literally find pretty much everything you are looking for.

Tot Trade is a consignment sale. Consignors pay a small fee to participate in the event, and are responsible for pricing and tagging their own merchandise using the Tot Trade barcoding system. Clothes are inspected before they are allowed on the sales floor, and only the best items are accepted (often times clothes come in with the tags still on!).

Whether you are a mom, dad, grandparent, or maybe you’re just looking to contribute items to your church nursery or preschool, Tot Trade truly has something for everyone.

How to Find Exactly What You Are Looking For

Looking for toys? The Tot Trade selection looks as though the Little Tykes and Fisher Price factories exploded. You will find every play and riding toy imagined.

Searching for clothes? They are selective in the clothing brands they take, but you will find a range from the chain brands up to the top of the line boutique brands. And guess what, boutique items have their own section! Talk about shopping made easy!

Overall Organization. The sales floor is organized by gender in clothing (boys/girls), as well as size and type (i.e. all coats are hung together). The rest of the items are organized by item sections (so folks looking for crib bedding can look precisely for bedding and not have to dig through other items). Tot Trade volunteers keep the floor organized and shopable.


Tot Trade fills the Jamil Temple twice a year. Go! You won’t regret it!

Sale Dates and Times

Public sale dates are September 16-19, 2015. Here are more details on what you can expect each day.

  • Wednesday, September 16: Open to public 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Thursday, September 17: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. All items are 20% off unless marked ND (No Discount – the consignor chooses whether or not to let her items discount.)
  • Friday, September 18: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. All items are 40% off unless marked ND.
  • Saturday, September 19: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. All items are 60% off unless marked ND.

Tips to Maximum Your Visit

We’ve compiled a list of tips (with Kelly’s help!) for you to make the most of your trip to Tot Trade.

1. Leave the kids at home. Some sale days get very crowded, and keeping track of your kids is not something you want to do while you’re busy shopping. Now’s the time to enlist grandma and grandpa’s help to watch them. Helpful hint — strollers are not easy to get through a busy sales floor.

2. This is some serious shopping folks. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing. It is even recommended to keep your method of payment on you instead of bringing a purse (one less thing to keep up with, weighing you down). You will be doing some hardcore shopping, and you want to make sure you have time to see it all! Be comfortable! It’s going to take you awhile to see everything … and believe us, you’ll want too.


Filling even the largest of containers is easy at Tot Trade!

3. Bring a shopping basket, bucket, larger diaper box or Thirty-One utility tote to carry all of your treasures in. We’ve even seen people get creative and attach a belt to a laundry basket so they can pull their load around without struggling to carry a giant, overflowing basket.

4. Make a list. It’s helpful if you have specific needs in mind — sizes, colors etc. A list will help keep you focused. If there is a pricier item you are in search of, do a little homework before coming. There may be half a dozen exersaucers on the floor when you go shop, and your research beforehand will help you make an informed purchasing decision.

5. Volunteer. Can you wrap your brain around how fun it would be to get ‘first dibs’ on all the stuff you want? Tot Trade has volunteer options available that will get you in the door BEFORE they open to the general public. And the deal gets even sweeter … if you are a consignor you earn more by volunteering, AND the more shifts you volunteer (consignor or not) the earlier you get in the door! The ‘jobs’ are easy, (okay, I’ll be honest, some jobs involve a lot of walking to put items on the sales floor, but count that as your exercise for the day! A win-win!). Grab a friend and volunteer together. Not only will you ‘work’ with each other, you’ll get to shop together! How’s that for getting in some ‘girlfriend time?!’

6. Bring an accepted form of payment. Tot Trade accepts debit cards, Visa, MasterCard, cash and checks. Don’t show up with your American Express or you’ll be out of luck!

7. Drive your largest vehicle. People, we are serious about this one. If you’ve never been to this awesome sale, you will be amazed. Yes, there is A LOT of stuff, but the bargains you will find will make you giddy! So, come prepared. Never fear though, if you can’t get all of your goodies in your car, Tot Trade has a ‘holding section’ and will keep your paid items for you until you can pick them up.

tot trade trunk full

It’s not uncommon for even your largest vehicle to look like this once you’re finished shopping!

Presale Opportunities

Tot Trade holds presales for their consignors, volunteers, first time moms, grandparents, teachers and military, so make sure you take advantage if you all into one of these categories! And one of the best things is this amazing sale is held twice a year, in March and September, so you can stock up before each season.

Still have questions? Check out Tot Trade’s website or Facebook page for more information. Happy shopping!

Have you shopped Tot Trade before? What additional advice do you have for shopping the sale?

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4 Responses to Tot Trade :: An Insider’s Guide to Shopping Columbia’s Largest Children’s Consignment Sale

  1. Mary September 2, 2015 at 6:34 pm #

    I have shopped tot trade not impressed they do not inspect their item maybe the largest but not the best you might want to check out other sales

    • Tiffany
      Tiffany September 3, 2015 at 7:12 pm #

      We hate to hear you had a bad experience. There are lots of great consignment sales in town and we love to check them all out for great deals!

    • Laurie Collins September 15, 2015 at 1:19 pm #

      I have worked with Kelly Graybill and Tot Trade for over 15 years. Each season we have 16 very experienced clothes inspectors going over each clothing item. With over 130,000 items coming in at each sale you can’t expect absolute perfection. We do a FABULOUS job and I am very proud to be a part of Tot Trade – the largest and longest running children’s consignment sale in the Columbia area!

      • Tiffany
        Tiffany September 15, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

        Thanks for the great feedback Laurie! I was shopping today and found some GREAT finds!

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