Thursday, September 25, 2008

Western Chicago Suburbs: Great Consignment Sale

This is the big weekend in Oak Park, for me at least. I have shopped many consignment and rummage sales in my day -- Mother of Twins clubs, churches, block sales and all -- but the Parenthesis semi-annual children's consignment sale is by far my favorite.

The deets:

Friday, Sept. 26: 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. $20 admission. Call 708-848-2227 to buy tickets.
Saturday, Sept. 27: 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. FREE admission;
half-price sale: Saturday, 11:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. (also free)

location: 405 S. Euclid Ave, Oak Park (basement of a church)

What I like: High-quality clothes, in good to outstanding condition. Sure, there are Target brands and Old Navy at this sale but I have bought a LOT of The Children's Place, Gymboree and Gap, and I even snagged a cute jumper from Ralph Lauren. I have also gotten a lot of Stride Right shoes, and I find kids' shoes hard to find at other places. Finally, great prices: I think I average $4 per item for shirts and pants. Oh yeah, also baby gear like swings and stuff at very good prices.

And now I will tell you the SECRET of the Parenthesis sale: the bag sale. I have a flyer here advertising the sale, but it doesn't mention the bag sale. But every time I have been to this even, after the end of the advertised sale, they hold a 1/2-hour last-chance sale where they sell you a kitchen-sized garbage bag for $5 and let you stuff in anything that you want.

How much they have left by the bag sale depends, of course, on the goods they have and the turnout at the regular sale. But I have found that whether the pickings are overwhelming or scant (I've seen both), there are alway some gems left over, and here's why: The parents who are selling the goods on consignment price their own stuff. So there will be a really cute dress or coat that some parent thought people would pay $15 for, but since everything else is priced around $5 or less, no one bought it. Then you can just get it for practically nothing in the bag sale.

Bag sale techniques (this will work for similar sales in their half-price sessions too):

DO attend the regular sale and scope out the merchandise. If you see something you love and it's well priced, better grab it early on. If you like something that seems overpriced, make a note of its location and hope you can "bag" it later. Scoping out the sale in advance will also give you a good feel for whether to buy more than one bag.

DON'T waste a lot of time trying to decide on items. Just buy it! It's practically free and you can always give away or donate what you don't end up using.

DON'T try to hide merchandise during the regular sale that you will come back and buy during the bag sale. For one thing, most of these events are fundraisers for nonprofits, and the Parenthesis sale is no exception -- it supports a great program offering respite for parents. There's a difference between being frugal and being greedy. For another, at least at Parenthesis, the volunteers search out these stashes and put them back on the sale floor. And it will then be much harder for you to find your stuff than it would have been if you'd played nice.

Update: I just came from volunteering at the sale, setting out clothes, and I wanted to let you all know that there are LOTS of coats and snowsuits, which is really great since those items can be so expensive out there in retail. Unless otherwise marked, coats and jackets are $6 for kids sizes and $4 for babies. Snow pants are $2.

I also noticed that the girls' 4T table is particularly bountiful.