As any mom of small children can attest, kids grow fast. And it doesn't help that they only make clothes for babies and toddlers that fit for only 3 month spans. As soon as you put a baby in an outfit, he has outgrown it. Needless to say, clothing all four of our kids drains the money from our checking account like sand through a sieve. A year or so ago, as I realized how quickly we were burning through the clothes for the triplets, I happened upon some frugal mom's best invention ever: The children's consignment sale/store.
Now I was already aware of consignment stores, but I had no idea there were ones that specialize in children's clothes. We have several here in town and I have found some good buys there. Who wants to pay $30 for each new pair of shoes for a CHILD who will outgrow them in 2-3 months?? We would be spending over $200+ every couple months on shoes if we did that. That, or I would be cutting holes in the toes of the shoes so that they would last longer. The open toe shoe is in this fall, right? The first time I walked into a kids' consignment store and perused the shoes, I could hear the chorus from Handel's Messiah ringing loudly in my years ... Hallelujah!! You mean I could find a pair of nice, barely worn shoes for under $10?!? This was crazy!! I found myself giddy with visions of my kids actually wearing more than one pair of shoes for each 2-3 month span. I scooped up my finds and checked out to the tune of $25 for three, count them, three, pairs of new looking shoes.
Of course, this only piqued my interest in the consignment world. As I talked with other moms, I found out that there were several city-wide sales throughout the year that sold consigned children's clothing. My first consignment sale experience was definitely one to behold. The sale opened at 10am and I thought I was getting there in plenty of time when I drove up at 9:45. The 15 minutes it took me to find a parking space definitely negated that theory. Once I finally parked and hiked to the entrance, all I could see was a sea of women, armed with empty laundry baskets and laundry bags, lined up around the building. Surely ALL these women couldn't be waiting to get into this sale. Maybe a Tide convention was going on? I really couldn't think of another explanation for the baskets ... so I simply proceeded to walk to the entrance. I didn't get more that 3 steps before a woman at the front of the line sitting in her fold out camping chair with a grande latte from Starbucks barked at me that this was the FRONT of the line and I needed to go to the end since I had just arrived. A line?!? Are you serious?? So these people WERE waiting for the sale. I smiled politely and headed to the back of the line.
Once they opened the doors and we filed in, I cannot fully convey to you the scene that unfolded before me. Women were running, no, sprinting, to racks of clothes and jockeying for position. Those who were brave enough to look through the lower racks of clothes were getting stepped on and pushed over by those standing over and behind them. I now saw the purpose of the laundry baskets. They were quickly being filled with piles and piles of clothes. Women with more than one child were dashing from the boys' section to the girls' section to make sure they collected an array of styles and sizes. As I was standing there with my mouth open, I almost got run over by two women "testing" the jogging strollers for sale. I now understood why the flier for the sale had said that no children under 10 would be allowed in on the first day ... they would have been crushed. This was madness, pure madness. So what did I do? Well, I did what any sensible pregnant mom of triplets on a tight budget would have done - I jumped right in. Sure I came out of there with a ripped skirt hem and a slightly crushed toe, but it was worth it! Since then, I have become a seasoned champion of the consignment sale circuit. I've learned a few tricks of the trade that ensure my safety and I show up with my laundry basket ready to go. I dive right in there with that pack of wolves and I usually come up with something to show for it. My kids have some great clothes and shoes at a fraction of the price. Plus, I've made some good money consigning some of my own kids' clothes. So thanks to the mom/animal that invented the kids' consignment sale/store ... I couldn't do it without her!!!