Kids seem to grow out of clothes before they are even brought home from the store, but kid’s consignment shops are a parent’s saving grace on both their wallets and the environment

By Lisa Ferguson

You probably don’t think twice about tossing an empty water bottle or soda can into a recycling bin. But what about your kid’s clothing?

Once-beloved (or, in some cases, barely worn) duds can be recycled, so to speak, by finding new pint-sized owners through resale stores and special consignment sale events. That’s good news for parents, since youngsters grow like weeds: Shoes become too tight seemingly overnight and pants that were the perfect length one day are inches too short the next.

Such stores and sales have attracted a dedicated following of moms and dads looking to buy and sell unwanted, “gently used” clothing and other items, including baby gear, children’s toys and furniture. Similar to taking tin cans to a recycling center, sellers present their goods and, after inspection, are generally refunded a few bucks for each item. After being tagged and hung on racks, the pieces are eventually sold to bargain-hunting shoppers, who often score name-brand tot fashions at deeply discounted prices.

“If you have a newborn baby, it’s really great because our sleepers run from like $1.50-$1.99 and those run at the (traditional retail) store like $7.99 and go up to $10,” explains Fumiko MacPherson, owner of the local franchise of Kid to Kid at 8450 W. Sahara Ave. The national resale chain uses a computer program to appraise merchandise and determine a resale price based on the brand, style, condition and demand for items.

MacPherson says those selling to her store can generally expect to receive in cash up to 20 percent of the resale price for clothing items and up to 40 percent for larger gear such as toddler slides, baby strollers and swings (most resalers cannot accept used cribs due to federal government safety recalls). The payout increases slightly if a seller opts for store credit as payment, which is used to purchase other items at the store.

Kid to Kid’s racks are often stocked with clothes bearing tags from well-known retailers such as Gap, Gymboree and Old Navy, among others, sized from preemie infant to children’s 14/16. MacPherson also occasionally accepts and sells such trendy brands as Juicy Couture, Abercrombie & Fitch and True Religion apparel in teen sizes. “I want to pass some good deals to the customers,” she says.

That’s why Rachel Albright shops resale. The mother of two and owner of Rachel Marie Photography in Las Vegas began frequenting local resale stores five years ago. “I thought it would be kind of like a garage sale where you’d get some killer prices,” she says, but has been “surprised” by the quality of items she’s found over the years, including pieces for her daughter’s private-school uniform for less than $10 each. “I got a killer deal.”

Those deals don’t always come easily, however. “If you put in a little elbow grease, you can find some really great things,” says Albright, who admits to giving clothes the once-over before purchasing them. “I check the knees (for wear). I check to make sure the buttons are working OK. I try to look at the garment and make sure there aren’t any stains on the front. … I walk in there very focused (and question), ‘Is my kid going to wear this? Is this something I would dress her in? Is this something that would be functional for her?’”

Racks at the twice-annual As They Grow … Kids Consignment Sale of Las Vegas are also loaded with name-brand clothing. What is different about it from other resale outlets are the crowds: Some 5,000 people attended the most recent event last fall, having paid a $2 admission fee and stood in lengthy lines to shop during the three days that the sale was open to the public.

“We get people who come all the way from California,” as well as families who travel from Southern Utah and Arizona to shop, explains Lisa DeLuca, one of three local moms who co-founded the sale in 2009. The next sale is scheduled for March 23 through March 25 at 2251 N. Rainbow Blvd. (site of former Linens ‘n Things store).

What else sets As They Grow apart from its competition, DeLuca says, is that consigners pay a $10 fee to register items in advance online at astheygrowlv.com and print their own sales tags. Once sold, they receive 65 percent of an item’s resale price, which is paid in cash shortly after the event. “We had a consigner in the last sale who made $3,400,” she notes. Items that go unsold are returned to consigners or, because the sale has partnered with several area charities, can be hauled away for donation.

“A lot of even affluent parents are smart about how they spend their money, and if they can get a Children’s Place (brand) coat and a Gap pair of jeans for $6 instead of $40 or $50, they are going to do that,” DeLuca says of resale shopping’s appeal. As for consigners who might previously have considered simply donating outgrown items to charity, the down economy has them reconsidering their options. “I think now they’re kind of looking around at their things going, ‘Wow, I can make some serious money with just some things that I’ve got laying around.’”

There is also an environmentally friendly aspect to resale shopping. “You’re reusing things that are already in the market, and there’s no packaging to do with these things,” resulting in less waste at landfills, DeLuca notes.

MacPherson characterizes the entire resale shopping experience this heartstring-tugging way: “It’s like a ‘Toy Story’-type of thing,” she says, referring to the third installment of the hit animated movie series, which follows Woody, Buzz Lightyear and company as their owner’s childhood ends. Just like “the toys still have a life, clothes still have a life.”

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