Tuesday, November 21, 2006

How To Make $410,000 A Year Selling Old Baby Clothes.


Starting a business was the last thing Shannon Wilburn and Davon Tackett were thinking about when they decided to sell the toys and clothes that their children had outgrown.

"It didn't even cross our minds," recalls Ms. Wilburn. "We just said, 'Let's have a weekend sale to make a little extra money.' " Her mother had told her about an event in Dallas where people sold their kids' castoffs en masse, so the pair thought they would try the same concept in their hometown of Tulsa, Okla.

Recruiting friends, they pulled together 17 consignors -- parents like them with piles of kids' stuff that they no longer needed -- and set up racks in Ms. Wilburn's living room. They made $1,800 in sales and were thrilled.

Nine years later, that weekend whim has become a national enterprise called Just Between Friends (www.jbfsale.com), with 37 franchises in 12 states. Their Tulsa sale, held twice a year, now pulls in $410,000 in sales with more than 100,000 items.

Ms Wilburn and Ms. Tackett aren't the only ones finding gold at the bottom of the toy chest. Originally popular just in the South, large-scale children's consignment sales are appearing throughout the country, as word spreads about their low costs, relatively minimal time commitment and growth potential.

The format is simple. Organizers typically hold sales twice a year in an area and focus on infant through preteen items. A week before the event, consignors drop off clothes, toys and baby equipment. The sale owners handle the rest -- site location, marketing, quality control and set-up. No employees are necessary: volunteers work for the privilege of shopping at a pre-sale. Consignors pick up their share of the revenue, typically 65-75%, at the end of each sale.

The sales are typically held over a weekend and the volunteers get to shop after the set-up days but before the public is allowed in.

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