Consignment event is mother lode

Mom-to-mom movement sees sharp rise in sales

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As a mother of three, Deborah Freeman understands what it is like when children are constantly growing out of clothes and losing interest in toys.

Because of that, Freeman is one of 10 event coordinators in Colorado for Just Between Friends, a national mom-to-mom consignment movement that takes over the Douglas County Fairgrounds for two weekends a year.

The most recent event was Freeman’s most successful yet, as 500 first-time shoppers and volunteers participated in the exclusive presale on Sept. 25. By the end of the first day, sales had more than doubled from the previous year. Freeman said she expected about 5,000 moms to visit the sale over the four days from Sept. 26-29.

“Being a mom is my full-time job, and during naps and at nights I run this full-time business. It supports me and my family,” said Freeman, who puts on a fall and winter/back-to-school sale each September and a spring/summer sale in the spring.

“It’s a community garage sale with a twist. We inspect everything before we put it out on the sales floor and we also check everything against the government recall list so our shoppers can shop with confidence, knowing that they are getting good quality items that are safe for their kids.”

Shoppers receive 60 percent of their self-determined sales price on consigned items — 70 percent if they volunteer — and the event is filled with gently used brand-name items from places like Gymboree, Gap, Old Navy and Ralph Lauren.

“We get a lot of new stuff too,” Freeman said. “People get so many gifts at baby showers that kids just can’t wear it all, so they turn around and sell it and make some money. You may have six of the same exact baby swing priced between $50 and $100, but the retail value is $160, so everyone is getting a deal.”

The variety offered last week included everything from maternity needs to infant and teenage clothing to Halloween costumes for all ages, outerwear and backpacks. Most of the items ranged between 50 and 90 percent off retail. Items that were not sold were either picked up by the mothers that put them up for sale or donated to local charities, including the Douglas/Elbert Task Force and Mission Ministries.

Visitors also had a chance to visit vendor booths such as the one run by Sharon Arnoldi, who specializes in family portraits and newborn photography.

“Last year was my first sale,” Arnoldi said. “My friends told me this was where to come. I took a chance with my business just to see, and I picked up some clients and some really great deals for my daughter as well.”