Thursday, February 21, 2013

It's Kinda Like the Best Yard Sale Ever {My Favorite Things}

I am about to tell you about one of my favorite things. I thought about titling this post: "How to Save Money, Make Money, and Clothe Your Family in Name Brand Duds", but that ended up being too long. But seriously, if you haven't heard of what I'm about to share, then it could possibly change your life - I know it did mine!

About Rhea Lana's

Have you ever been to a children's consignment sale? There are a few major franchises in the nation. My very favorite, and the one that I think is really tops when it comes to quality and organization and value, is Rhea Lana's. Started by Rhea Lana Riner in Conway, Arkansas back in 1997, this amazingly fast-growing sale has ministered to so many young families who could not otherwise afford name brand or even decent-looking clothes, toys, and equipment for their children and babies. As of the end of 2012, there were 62 events in 20 states PER YEAR! And it is still growing by leaps and bounds with highly-motivated moms leading the franchising charge. God has blessed this company for its strong faith and family first values.

I have been shopping at my local Rhea Lana's sale (one of the earliest franchises begun by Rhea Lana's little sister Ashley Shaver Noland) since my oldest was an infant back in spring 2007. In our NWA area there are now 2 separate sales twice a year - 2 in the fall and 2 in the spring (plus another sale each fall and spring within 45 minutes from me).

Why I Shop Rhea Lana's

I can't even begin to tell you how much money I have saved by buying 95% of my kids' clothes and shoes and 75% of their toys and equipment and books at these sales!! When I was growing up in a two-income, reasonably comfortable middle class family, my parents didn't care about dressing us in nice clothes and shoes - if it fit, was clean, modest, and in school dress code, it didn't matter where it came from. My first pair of Nike shoes didn't happen until I begged in Jr. High for basketball!

Now, I don't fault my parents; because of their counter-culture clothing ideas, we got to go on vacations and do other cool stuff. They raised some really savvy adults this way - if it's not on sale or clearance, I don't buy it; I don't even go into stores where I know I can't afford the clearance price (for example, I love Banana Republic clothes, but unless I find it at Goodwill, I just can't swing the price tag, at least not in my mind).

But I have also discovered as a parent that name brand clothes really are better in most cases! The fabric is less likely to pill, is usually more resistant to permanent stains, the stitching is better, the fit is better, the shoes are more sturdy, etc... And that is why I have no problem buying used kids clothes at a consignment sale. I'm getting great clothes, in good condition, for a phenomenal price!

And not just kids and baby clothes, but also toys and equipment, books and games, nursery decor and furniture, any gear you can imagine, and even maternity clothes! All of these categories contain things that just don't get used long term. If you buy them new, the costs add up quickly; and if you aren't selling them, you aren't recouping your costs and your stuff is stacking up in a hurry!

I'm looking forward to shopping this year at our local sale coming up. I'll be shopping early, and I can't wait to share some of my awesome finds with you all!

About Consigning

I have been consigning with RL since spring 2008 - that's FIVE years, people! And usually twice each year (unless I'm due to have a baby, which has happened more than once). ;-) Consignors with Rhea Lana's earn 70-80% of their total sales! That's a huge margin compared to most consignment sales. And the initial consignor fee is less than $10 (and you can even volunteer to work a shift that will get that back in your pocket - one of my favorite shifts anyway!).

Some seasons are more work for me, and some seasons are less. Sometimes I sell a lot, other times, I'm just looking to earn enough to counter what I have to buy that season. This season, for example, I'm selling a LOT of clothes and a LOT of toys, and even a few pieces of infant equipment. (Why would I do that when I'm preggo with number 4? One word: upgrade!!) I am looking forward to a very good return on the hard work I am currently putting in getting toys and shoes cleaned, clothes sorted, sized, paired and hung, etc.

Is it hard to consign?

Well, that's a good question. If you are really organized and box and label your children's too small clothes and discarded toys, it's not all that difficult. But it does require effort checking clothes for stains (RL accepts only clothes in good condition - no holes, stains, or out-of-date clothes to have to weed through on the racks - definitely a plus for shoppers), packaging shoes and toys appropriately, getting it all organized, entering it all into the (actually quite stream-lined) computer system, and getting it to the sale location. You can find lots of details about how to consign here.

Is it worth it? 

For our family - yes! I get to make space in closets for new clothes by getting rid of the old, I make way more money than I would selling stuff in a yard sale, and I still have plenty to give to friends and family with younger kiddos and the rest to Goodwill. In fact, the seasons that I both sell and shop, I generally make enough in sales to almost equal or exceed what I purchase (depending usually on any big items I am buying or selling). Where else can you do that??

Saving money shopping makes me happy. Earning money to spend on necessary clothes and stuff makes my husband happy. Getting nice, "new" clothes, shoes, and toys makes my kids happy. Clearing my home of the things we aren't using anymore makes my home happy. And that makes us all happeh, happeh, happeh! (We had to reference Duck Dynasty at some point, didn't we?)

So, if you are in the Northwest Arkansas area, the info for the first sale of the spring season is:

Rhea Lana's of Fayetteville
Sunday, March 3 - Saturday, March 9
2075 N Shiloh Drive
Private Pre-Sale Event for Consignors, Volunteers, and Moms-to-Be
Saturday, March 2 

Do you see where it says there is a "Private Pre-Sale Even for Consignors, Volunteers, and Moms-to-Be"? I highly recommend volunteering for a shift or more (read more about that here), even if you've never shopped or consigned before. It's an excellent way to see what it's all about, earn an early shopping pass, meet and visit with other moms, and have a really great time. Even Hubster is volunteering this sale to act as "security" during the pre-sale (there's just so many people there at times, it's nice to have big men to help with crowds and help carry out the big items). :-)

What if you aren't in the NWA area? Check the website for all the locations and dates for sales coming up. The season is just now kicking off and will likely run through April and even into May. You can also "like" them on Facebook (national page -- NWA page) to get all the latest news and updates.

So tell me:
Have you ever shopped a consignment sale in general, or Rhea Lana's specifically, and what did you think?
Have you ever consigned before, and is it worth it for your family?
Doesn't this post just make you wanna go out and find amazing deals for your family?? :-p

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