This week is one of my very favorite things is happening: the semi-annual Just Between Friends consignment sale.
JBF is a well-organized, one week used kids’ sale where people can buy gently used clothes, toys, books, baby gear, and tons more at 50-90% off the retail price, but it’s also a chance for families to make a little bit of extra money selling the things that their children no longer want or need.
I love being able to sell my old stuff to moms who need it more than I do, but I also love the bargains I find on stuff for my kids. My mother-in-law were talking about this the other day, and she, being a super savvy sale shopper, insisted that I could find comparable bargains on brand-new clothes during big sales, and she’s probably right.
But to me, participating in JBF is about so much more than saving money.
It’s about making sure the dollars I am spending are going directly into the pockets of moms like me. It’s about eliminating manufacturing and landfill waste by making sure that clothes are really and truly worn out before they get tossed. And it’s about the discipline of making room for new things before I go out and buy them, and even then, only buying what I truly need. This year, for the first time ever, my kids are electing to sell some of their own toys so they can earn money to buy the things they really want, and I’ve encouraged them to do so.
Can you tell that I really love JBF? If you have kids (or grandkids! or friends with kids!) I highly recommend that you check out this sale. But if you’ve never been before, the amount of stuff that is for sale can be a little overwhelming. If you’re new to JBF, here are a few strategies that I have found to be extremely valuable when I shop:
1. Know what you have (and what you need)
There is nothing more frustrating than spending money on a good deal on long sleeved shirts for your 5-year-old, and coming home to find that he already has plenty, and that it was your 3-year-old who needed the shirts. I know it’s only August, but take an hour or two, pull out your kids’ winter clothes, figure out what still fits and what needs to be replaced, that way you aren’t wasting your time shopping for things your kids already have.
This year, my kids are already mostly set when it comes to basic clothing items, but what they really need are accessory items: jackets, shoes, hats, etc. I snapped the pictures of above of what will comprise the bulk of their fall wardrobes so I can be sure that I’m not buying a hoodie that they’ll never wear because it doesn’t match anything.
2. Take your kids’ measurements
If you shop at the same store all the time, you probably know what sizes fit your kids. But since JBF is a consignment sale, all kinds of brands of clothing will be available, and sizing is extremely inconsistent. At the last JBF sale, I found 3 different t-shirts all labeled 5T, one of which fit my small-for-his-age 3-year-old, one of which almost fit me, and one that fit my son who actually wears 5T-sized clothes on a regular basis. So it can be valuable to have kids’ measurements with you as you shop, especially for items that you really need.
What this means for me is that this afternoon, when Caleb gets home from school, I will make both my boys stand on a piece of cardstock so I trace their little feet and take their actual foot size with me to the sale. If you really need jeans, you might want to measure their inseam, and bring a small measuring tape with you, or cut a length of ribbon as long as you need their pants to be.
3. Don’t buy the first thing you see
Give yourself plenty of time to shop, and if you can, go through the whole section of items you’re shopping in. Maybe you found the perfect pair Batman jammies, and they’re only $4. Yay! Grab them, but keep looking because there’s a chance another consignor has the exact same pair of jammies a little farther down the rack for $2.
Every sale I’ve been at, I’ve seen identical items, sometimes in identical shape, but with difference prices. Without fail, exercising patience and diligence while I shop has been rewarded.
The Springfield JBF sale is at Remington’s on Republic Rd., and opens to the public Wednesday, although some folks get to shop early (See here if you qualify.) And if you’re not in the Springfield area, you can see if there’s one near you here.