When I opened my front door one morning last week, I thought Santa Claus had come early. Or the Easter Bunny had come late. Somebody. Parked in our front lawn, where my 2-year-old son Wade could run out and greet it, was a yellow riding tractor toy. Think Big Wheel from the 70s but one that actually looks like a real vehicle, in this case, a “Digger!!!” as Wade refers to his favorite variety of truck. It had a bulldozer-style bucket on the front, a little trailer wagon on the back – the perfect little tractor.
I could not have dreamed up a better gift for him and here it was on my doorstep. Now if he can just learn to pedal it for himself!
A flurry of text messages to the usual suspects got me nowhere, before my next-door neighbor sidled over solved the puzzle. A neighbor down the street had seen the toy truck out on somebody’s curb and brought it to our front door to give Wade.
I noticed as I got up close to it that it had too much pollen on it to be new, and one of the pieces on the toy seemed to be missing. It turns out it comes with a digger bucket attached to the back too. But did I care? Nope. Wade? Even less.
My husband searched a “Smoby Builder Max” on the internet, trying to find out what the missing part was, and he found a similar model on sale on Amazon. List price? $479.82. Not even kidding.
It was just further evidence of what I’ve learned very quickly as a new mom and particularly as a twin mom – consignment (not to mention very thoughtful neighbors) is the way to go.
I never shopped that way as a single gal. As a mom, I think it’s really smart. It didn’t take me long to figure out I might dress Wade in the cutest outfit in the world two or three times max before he outgrows it. I’ve got three sons now. We’ve got to pay for college. Paying full price on items except for special occasions, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
I joined the Charlotte Mother of Multiples club when I was pregnant with my twin sons, now 7 months old, and that’s when I discovered the beauty of their bi-annual consignment sale. I already had a lot of clothes (one of the benefits of being late to motherhood means lots of friends with hand-me-down clothes.) But we went nuts on the toys, wrapping up our Christmas shopping for Wade in one night.
At the spring sale, I focused on buying up the “second” of everything we needed for the twins, in addition to what we had from Wade – a second mobile, a second play mat, a second bouncy seat, and a third and fourth to keep at relatives’ houses, etc.
We couldn’t get the double stroller we wanted – it sold too quickly – so we bought our double stroller new. But that was possible in part because of the money we saved stocking up at the consignment sale. And I learned the beauty of selling too. I made a little walking-around money selling maternity and newborn clothes, including a couple of Kissy Kissy outfits that our twins might have worn once. (So I wasn’t out and about much in the early days. Zip-up onesies, and I was good!)
From what I can tell on www.consignmentsalefinder.org and other searches, Charlotte has a healthy list of sales to hit in both the spring and fall. If you’re like me, you probably go with what’s convenient and what you’ve heard the most about. For me, that’s a) the CMOMs sale because it’s got a great selection and I get to rub elbows with twin mom friends. (The fall sale is scheduled for Saturday, August 18 at the Park Expo and Conference Center.) And b) The Harris Y sale, which is in early September around Labor Day. I’m there quite a bit working out anyway and judging by what I saw in the gym last fall, they have a good selection too.
From talking to other moms and a friend I know who used to be in the consignment business, Myers Park Presbyterian Church puts on a great sale too. Unfortunately it’s held just once a year and this year’s was in March but it’ll be worth the wait for next year. Charlotte Smarty Moms have recently voted both the CMOMS and Myers Park Presbyterian their favorite consignment sales. I’ve also had multiple friends tell me about the sale at Matthews United Methodist Church. Their fall sale will be on September 15.
My friend Debra Tarleton co-owned a consignment shop in the Cotswold area called Crickettes for more than 20 years. She closed in 2007 to focus on taking care of some relatives but she had this to say about the idea of buying and selling gently-used clothing: “Our mentality when we first started was we’re recycling very good clothing for other people to enjoy that’s not as expensive as retail. It was a way of sharing.”
She believes quality clothes can last for years.
“If you take care of them, they can go through two, three children and still be in good enough to consign,” Tarleton said. “With most of the children’s clothing, it’s not about style until they get a little older. It’s a good way to share what you have with others and make a little money on it if you’re the consigner.”