Moms have chance to get the drop on bargains

Busy moms who appreciate bargains, efficiency and the chance to make a few bucks already have their calendars marked for the weekend of Sept. 17-19 -- the next time the doors swing open at a shop designed just for them.

As They Grow ( sells everything from baby gear and toys to Halloween costumes and shoes during its annual fall/winter kids' consignment event. If this sale is like previous ones, shoppers will line up before the doors open to get first shot at about 30,000 items.

The store occupies a 25,000-square-foot retail location at 4600 Meadows Lane in the Toys R Us plaza. Setup begins the week before the sale, but people hoping to sell used items in good condition are already doing their presale homework.

"Consigners enter their items online, then drop everything off on the Monday and Tuesday before the event," said Lisa DeLuca, one of three partners in the business. "We organize everything on Wednesday then have a presale Wednesday night for volunteers."

Registering as a seller is simple. Software from walks the user through entering items, pricing them, putting clothing on hangers "the right way" and printing tags to be attached before items are dropped off.

The semiannual consignment business was the idea of Leslie Stewart, who contacted DeLuca and Lisa Renteria for their ideas and help.

"Leslie called both of us to a meeting and got two Lisas for the price of one," DeLuca said.

The partners have invested in signs, cash registers, wireless scanners, the website and e-mail marketing to 1,300-plus people registered on the site. Nearly 1,000 people shopped the spring-summer sale. The store is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

"Drop-offs are by appointment, in 15-minute increments. Sellers need one appointment for every 100 items. If they have 500 items, they'll need to make five appointments," DeLuca said. "We had one mom make $3,400. A lot make between $700 and $1,000."

Sellers are charged a $10 fee, plus 25 to 35 percent of the sale price. Volunteers pay the lower commission fee, DeLuca said. "We rely heavily on volunteers. They get to preshop the presale and also get to keep a higher percentage of their sales."

Shoppers pay a $2 entry fee, which is waived if they have an admission coupon, flier or ad with the free offer. DeLuca is putting 40,000 coupons in many mom-friendly locations.

She expects about 85 percent of the items to sell. Leftovers will be donated to local charities or picked up by the seller.

"We promise a check to our sellers within two weeks of the sale," DeLuca said. "The last time we had the checks the next afternoon."

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