Sept. 12, 2008 — -- In a challenging economy when many people look for ways to stretch a dollar, lots of families are forgoing the mall and flocking to "consignment conventions" like Just Between Friends.
The company, founded 11 years ago by best friends Shannon Wilburn and Daven Tacket in Tulsa, Okla., is today a $5 million business, with 65 franchises in 17 states. Thousands of sellers, called consignors, come together under one roof to sell their gently used baby and kid items.
I recently visited one such sale in Fort Worth, Texas, which boasted 95,000 items for sale—everything from strollers and car seats to bottles and bibs, plus lots of clothing and even Halloween costumes too.
It's a 21st century, stadium-sized garage sale—with moms selling to other moms at rock bottom prices.
Consignors set their own prices on items, for which they receive an average of 65-70 percent of the selling price. That's significantly higher than traditional consignments, and it's free of the hassle associated with selling directly from a booth at a flea market or running a garage sale.
It's not just the sale attendees who are making money; each franchise owner is getting a cut too. Franchisees pay an average of $10,500—plus other start-up related expenses—to receive the training, tools and support to run two major sales per year in their cities. Some owners say it's akin to having a fulltime salary for a part-time job since it doesn't involve a daily commitment.
To learn more about buying or selling at a Just Between Friends sale—there are about 30 more events this year around the country, visit the company's Web site at www.jbfsale.com.
If you're unable to participate as a buyer or seller in a Just Between Friends sale, consider starting a mini-version on your own.
1) Invite 15 to 20 friends to sell their gently used kids clothing and accessories. Agree on a location, such as the garage or living room of the largest home among your pals. You might even think of a church, school gym or other conveniently located venue.