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A Children's Consignment Sale
"Consignment sales are just a great way to get some things that you need at a fraction of the cost," said Jenatha Strange, co-founder of Ring Around the Rosy, which hosts local consignment sales. "That's it in a nutshell. It's a great way to recycle things back into the community and provide an opportunity for other people to get things at a fraction of the cost."
Consignment sales are essentially massive yard sales, providing a marketplace where community members can buy and sell gently-used clothes, furniture and toys. The events are a boon for all participants: consigners, who generally set their own prices, receive anywhere from 40 to 85 percent of the proceeds from the items that sell, while the host organization receives the rest. Shoppers, on the other hand, are able to pick up deeply discounted clothes for their growing children or grandchildren.
"If you've got small children, they're going to wear clothes for six weeks in some cases," said Joy Pritchett, a member of Southside Area Mothers of Multiples (SAMOM), which hosts consignment sales each spring and fall. "Do you really want to go to some boutique and spend $60 on two outfits? Or can you go buy something that somebody else's kids have worn three times? I don't know many people - moms of multiples or otherwise - who go out and buy everything new, even people who could afford it."
The SAMOM sale serves as a fundraiser for the group, which is dedicated to supporting mothers of twins, triplets and other multiples. While consigners, all of whom are members, take home 85 percent of the proceeds from their sales, the remaining 15 percent goes to support SAMOM's educational programs and philanthropic efforts.
"One of the reasons the sale started was just for us to exchange merchandise between each other," said Pritchett, a mother of twins. "And by opening it up to the public, we have the opportunity to not only sell things we don't need, but we have a wonderful fundraiser for the club. It's a win for everybody."
The Brandermill Church Consignment Sale, which recently held its 14th event, is another mission-based program. Its sale was created as part of the church's outreach program; the proceeds - 20 percent from volunteers' consignments and 40 percent from the rest of sales - go toward seven charities, including Good Samaritan Ministries, Daughters of Zelophehad and Volunteer Emergency Families for Children.
"Our mission is three- and four- and five-fold," said Jennifer Inman, the sale's co-founder. "We're trying to help families be able to economically clothe their families with quality clothing. They're also able to consign their discards and be able to reap the money back to buy new clothing."
At the end of the sale, as with the others mentioned in this article, consigners have the opportunity to donate their unsold items, which end up in the hands of needy families.
The upcoming Ring Around the Rosy sale on Apr. 26 at New Hope Lutheran Church will be the first major sale for Strange and her partner Diane Nickerson, offering children's clothing, toys, books, maternity clothing and baby furniture and equipment. Unlike most sales, they use a computerized system for pricing and tagging items. They plan to send donated items to Madeleine's House, a shelter for victims of sexual abuse. A fall sale is also planned later this year.
"Diane and I are both stay-at-home moms, and we were both looking for something we could do to bring some income into our households where it wasn't a full-time position," said Strange. "This seemed like the right opportunity."
With so many gently-used or brand-new items available at incredibly reduced prices, it's no wonder that the popularity of consignment sales continues to grow.
"I'm having a hard time thinking of someone who doesn't participate, either as consigners or as shoppers," Strange said. "It's just so much more affordable to get things for your kids."