kids fashionEveryone loves to give the perfect baby shower gift. And Lori Spink's perfect gift for moms-to-be is a gift certificate to Tree House For Kids, her favorite consignment shop in Redmond. The Redmond mom of a 3-year-old daughter enjoys introducing new moms to the magic of consignment shopping and selling.

Because Spink sells clothes on consignment as well as buys at Tree House For Kids, she knows the quality of the clothes they offer. "When they take stuff, they are picky," she observes. Spink recommends bringing items to consignment clothing stores only if they are clean, stain-free, seasonally appropriate, gently worn (no tears or missing buttons) and ironed. "Think about what you would want to buy," she says.

In general, consignment clothing stores price clothes at 50 percent of the retail price when the item was new, and then the store takes a percentage of what the seller receives. "Selling through a store is much easier than having a garage sale," Spink says, "and you get more money back because of the greater exposure to more buyers."

Kamela Trujillo is a definite consignment guru. For more than a decade, the Wallingford mom has been buying and selling clothes on consignment for her four children, ages 12, 6, 3 and 18 months. Her favorite place to shop is Me N' Mom's in Ballard and Issaquah, which she says offers a flexible plan for consignment sellers and a great range of clothes, even for her oldest child. She tests snaps and Velcro on clothing with a good tug and knows which brands run true to size, including Baby Gap clothing, and which tend to run small.

Consignment stores that offer sellers cash as an option, in addition to store credit, tend to have a greater selection of clothes, Trujillo advises.

When buying equipment, Trujillo says, "definitely take it for a test drive first." She looks for wobbly wheels on strollers, covers that don't push forward and back, and bottom carriers that are loose. Trujillo says good consignment stores will tell you if an item has been recalled.

Magnolia realtor and mom Cheryl Papadakis also has great tips for consignment clothing newbies. "Go often and don't only look for your child's current size," she says. "My daughter is 22 months but I'll look at ages 2 to 3 and store it away. I'm always looking for, and often find, good quality brands such as Stride Rite, Teva, Elephantan, Baby Gap, and Janie and Jack. I paid $5.50 for a pair of Stride Rite shoes at Me N' Moms, which would retail for over $40. It's so easy to find children's clothing items in both high fashion and great condition because kids grow out of them so quickly."

Beyond clothes for babies and toddlers, several local stores offer specialty items and options for teens and even consignment maternity wear. Tree House For Kids has a large section of ballet skirts, leotards and shoes for budding dancers. The Lost Mitten in North Bend offers costumes and swimsuits year round. Plato's Closet in Bellevue carries current styles for teens and moms alike, and the Pregnant Pause in Seattle offers a wide selection of maternity wear in addition to clothes for infants and kids.

Pregnant Pause owner Linda Clemon-Karp says her consignment clothing store is "exactly what I needed years ago when I was pregnant. Since I was the first of anyone I knew to get pregnant, I spent six months in my husband's shirts and some really stretchy leggings and finally, a big tent." For customers that are new to her store, she says, can expect "maternity clothes that are in style, look like new, are freshly laundered or dry cleaned, stain-free and about one-third the cost of their new counterparts."

Kathleen F. Miller
is Sammamish-based freelance writer and mother of two.


Originally published in the August, 2005 print edition of ParentMap.

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