Monday, October 31, 2011

Treasured By Pearl: Children’s Consignment Stores & Events

Everyone is on a tight budget, right?  I know I am.  James and I were very fortunate to be given so much before and after Lydia’s birth and so we only had to buy her a car seat, stroller, a piece of furniture for her bedroom (more on that in this article), and a few other random, less expensive things.

I hope you are as fortunate!  My friend Jenn, spoken of often in this blog, gave us SO MANY clothes that her daughter, Shelby had grown out of.  Probably several hundred dollars’ worth, if not more.  Carter’s , Ralph Lauren, Baby Gap, Old Navy, you name the name brand, it was in one of the bags she gave me.  I am so fortunate to have met her when I did.  Lydia is now 5 months and is (fortunately) a small baby (still in 3 month clothes), and we haven’t purchased the first item for her to wear, thanks to her and all those that gave so generously.  (Okay, I bought her a pair of socks the other day, just because she has long, skinny feet and nothing seems to want to stay on, but I think that we’re doing pretty good so far!)  I am, however, going to have to break down this month and spend some money on clothes for her, as she must have recently hit a growth spurt and is in need of some bigger clothes. 
Good thing Wee Trade is coming up!  Have you heard of it?  OH it’s AWESOME!  It is 30,000 square feet of the Ag Center FILLED to bursting with pretty much anything you could want for your child.  Racks and racks and racks of clothes, rows and rows of tables with bedroom décor, toys, books, swings, bouncers, walkers, strollers, car seats, carriers, furniture, EVERYTHING! 
I went with Brittany to the one in August.  I spent $65 and got about $300 worth of stuff.  I couldn’t believe it.  I bought a baby tub that at Target is $18, but at Wee Trade was just $3!!!  I got a $60 activity mat for just $20!  (Great investment, BTW.  Lydia LOVED that thing.  One of the dangling toys was the first thing she grabbed, and though she doesn’t care for the mat itself anymore, she still plays with all the detachable toys!)  I got a couple Baby Wise books (see blog) for $10, brand new.  For some reason, I’m drawing a blank as to what else I bought there, but you get the idea.
The only bummer about the event is that you have to stand in a REALLY long line.  I didn’t mind b/c I had good company – Brittany and our gorgeous girls.  It moves a lot faster than you think it will, and the deals are worth it.  The next Wee Trade is November  18-20, and you can bet I’ll be there!  Admission is free, and if you plan on buying a lot, I suggest bringing a laundry basket or something to carry your stuff around in.  We saw one lady that had tied a rope to her laundry basket and was pulling it around behind her.  Some other people were using their strollers, which is what we did.  There are LOTS of people there, so just be aware that you will have to negotiate tight spaces if you bring your stroller.
I also LOVE the Children’s Consignment stores.  I have found three in the Asheville area, though I am sure there are more that I haven’t visited.  (I just did a Google search, and there are a couple more that I’ll have to try!) 
When I was 8 ½ months pregnant, James and I took a whole day shopping ALL OVER town (I think we went to about a dozen different places!) for a piece of furniture for Lydia’s room.  We had seen a hutch/changing table/dresser combo at Children’s Trading Post on Airport Road that was over $500, and though it was pretty perfect, we didn’t have that kind of money to spend.  Well, as that exhausting day was drawing to a close and we still hadn’t found anything, I decided to call CTP to see if that piece of furniture was still there, and it was. 
The beauty of consignment stores is that most of them have gone to a pricing system that lowers as the products spend more and more time on the shelves.  When we first saw that piece, it had been in the store for some time and the price had lowered once, but it was still too much.  When I called that day, the price had just gone down to $370!  Being originally over $1,000, I’d say we got quite a deal.  It’s in immaculate condition, and we can use it for our future babies, or Lydia can hang on to it when she is older. 
Also, Children’s Trading Post has a “frequent flyer” program, if you will, and for every $20 you spend, you get a stamp.  When you have 10 stamps, you get $10 off your next purchase.  At the Merrimon Avenue location, I put my first filled card toward my sling (see previous article), which worked out great!    I’ve gotten a couple other random things there, like my Hooter Hider (for nursing in public) for $8 (new they are around $20), and a package of gDiapers Biodegradable Refills for $11 (at the store, they’re anywhere from $13-$17, not a huge savings, but hey, every dollar counts!). 
My favorite children’s consignment store, however, is Lollipops.  Located in South Asheville on Hendersonville Road (near Asiana), it is just up the street from me.  I went in (even though the sign said “upscale” – I read “expensive”) and was pleasantly surprised.  It was clean, bright, and the employees were friendly.  The prices were comparable to that of the other stores, and unlike Children’s Trading Post, there was plenty of room to move!  (That’s my complaint about CTP – it is overly cluttered, and I have a hard time finding what I am looking for.  I usually just ask one of the employees, who are more than willing to help – usually.) 
On my first visit, I found a Bumbo Seat there in the color that I wanted (Lilac) for just $22, where at CTP they run about $30 +/-.  In the last article I wrote, I told about when I bought my Baby Bjorn, said that the price was unbeatable, but I forgot to mention that while I got the Bjorn for $34 at Lollipops, the same one (different color) was $77 at CTP! 
I “friended” them on Facebook and wrote a recommendation, and the owner sent me an email with a coupon for 25% off any one item!  Just goes to show how far a kind word can get you.  Lollipops also holds events at their shop, things like So Impressed and photo shoots. 
If you aren’t local, be sure to find the children’s consignment stores in your area.  They are a great source for most anything you need, and it’s a great way to save money.  I haven’t personally consigned anything yet, but I’ll be sure to let you know about my experience then I do! 

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