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What is all the fuss about consignment? Could it fuel your passion and your pocketbook? - Guest Author

Thursday, April 30, 2009
The media and American moms are buzzing about consignment, but my thoughts of consignment shops growing up were musty, dusty shops where the racks were crammed with all kinds of polyester leftovers from the 70s. It’s where we shopped for Halloween outfits. But, ladies, times have changed and we need to give second-hand another look because it might just fuel your passion and your pocketbook.

Today, consignment sales events are on the cutting edge of local and national media, with upscale resale as the hottest trend in spring fashions. You’ve heard ‘cheap is chic’ and I won’t beg to differ because consigning is good for the environment (recycling), it’s an excellent way to reduce your family’s footprint (reselling), you are able to earn back a fair value for the investment you’ve made in your children (recouping), and you get a big, fat check after your items sell (rejoicing!).

As a working mom, I was looking for an exit strategy (other than death) from an IT career when I walked into my first Just Between Friends kids consignment sales event. I know there are other options out there, but this is where the angels sang and blew on their trumpets for me.

The venue was better organized than any kids’ store I had ever visited, the mommy-volunteers took me under their wings (which is no easy thing when you’re breast-feeding), and I found so many great deals for my youngest sister’s baby shower that I had money to take myself to the spa and do the “bargain dance” after a relaxing pedicure.

Consigning is a rather simple concept. You buy what you need and like for your family, new or used, it doesn’t really matter. If you are a good steward of your belongings, it will have another lifespan with another family. If you take really good care of your stuff, you’ll make even more money because there are other families out there looking for what you no longer use or need. Have a toddler? Well, someone just had a baby and will need your infant items shortly.

Twice a year, usually spring and fall, you gather your wealth of unused and outgrown items, so that you can prep and tag your stuff. With Just Between Friends, you enter all of your information into a user-friendly online program and it prints out bar-coded tags for you. Right before each event opens, you drop off your items, which are inspected for condition, fashion, etc., and you pick up your pre-sale pass. Oh, did I mention consignors and volunteers shop events first…before the doors are opened to the public?

Then, here’s the fun part…shopping! You get to shop all of the other moms’ items and they get to shop yours. The prices are great, the selection grows each season, as more and more moms find out and participate, and you don’t have to do anymore work. After the sale, which usually has a couple of discount days included, any unsold items are available for pick-up or you can donate them to a local children’s charity and take an itemized tax deduction while you bask in the warm fuzzies of helping area families in crisis. Two weeks later you get a check in the mail. (sweet!)

The consignment concept is not new, but the innovative twist of using them to create engaging, empowering community events is smoking hot. Moms connect face-to-face, they learn about new opportunities and share resources, while shopping for great bargains, making much-needed money for their family, and having fun with new and old friends.

There may not yet be a Just Between Friends in your area, but look for ways you can reach out and explore new ideas and experiences. I was not looking for another job when I found JBF, I was looking for a way out. Funny, Just Between Friends has been the one thing I would not call work. It is my calling, my passion and my avenue to serve others. Sure, I still clip coupons, shop clearance sales and pull in for good garage sales, but I’m now resale royalty. Just call me the Contessa of Consignment.

About the author:
Michelle Wiginton has a BA in Journalism/Mass Communications and a Masters degree in International Human Relations. She has worked for ABC News, Good Morning America and is an avid freelance writer and photographer. She is Certified Meeting Planner, a Certified Massage Therapist and is certified in Business Process Re-Engineering. Michelle lives in the Midwest with her husband, son and two silly wiener dogs name JJ and Dally.