Gail Walker and Beth Pendola started the Kids EveryWear sale in 1998. In 2015, their sale was honored as one of Consignment Mommies’s National Top 10 Best Consignment Sales. Recently, they shared their story for our readers.
What made you decide to start your sale?
Gail and I started the sale as a way to supplement family income doing what we already loved to do – going to yard sales! We both loved finding steals for our own kids and realized there were so many other great finds that had income potential.
How did you get started? How has Kids EveryWear grown?
We started the sale in spring of 1998 in Beth’s one-car garage with our own yard sale finds and the goods of 2 other friends who consigned their items with us. That summer we held two additional sales and increased consignors by a few each time. When my neighbors started to complain about the traffic that we generated, we began to look for alternate venues. In the fall of 98, we found a commercial outparcel to lease. It was approximately 12 by 20 feet. We both had infants and decided to shut down midday for nap time. We did not realize that once our consignors showed up with their items, we would sprawl into the parking lot with strollers and tons of infant equipment. Each day we had to cart all that equipment back into the tiny store to close shop and put our kiddos down for naps. We then moved into our church building where we ran sales beginning set up after Sunday services and finalizing clean up on Saturday nights, usually around 4 am by the time we were finished. At our first public sale the line wrapped around the building and the pastor couldn’t find a parking space! We stayed in the church building for several years, gradually claiming more and more space, first the auditorium, then more and more classrooms and lobbies and halls. By the time we were about to ask for the pastors’ offices they asked us to find another location! We then found a storefront at Morrisville Outlet Mall in 2004. Gradually, we added spaces. Today we lease 12 storefronts and the hallways of the mall and average around 1300 consignors.
What’s the most enjoyable aspect of owning your sale?
The most enjoyable aspects of owning the sale include setting our own schedules to enable us to homeschool our kids. We each have four. And also, the GREAT people we meet. Our volunteers are amazing people and we love every one of them. Several have become very close friends through the years and we share life together even between sales.
What makes your sale stand out among the sales in your area?
We have tried to carve out several unique niches in the consignment sale market. First, we lease our space for an entire month which allows us time to focus on organization and quality control. We have volunteers work for several days to purge our racks of any stained, damaged or outdated items which makes our selection better than most other area sales who operate within a tighter timeframe. We also spend a lot of time and volunteer hours making sure that our organization is great. We separate our toys and equipment into very specific categories which makes shopping a breeze. Some people say that our books, for example, are easier to shop than at Barnes and Noble! Another aspect of our sale that is unique is a consistent core group of volunteers who work from 24-40 hours per sale. We have an efficient, well-trained group who make the sale run efficiently. They each feel a sense of ownership which facilitates great customer service and a speedy checkout process.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a consignment sale?
The biggest misconception I think new sale owners have is the amount of time and work that is needed. It is a tireless commitment involving significant amounts of work throughout the year as well as crazy sale-time hours involving 15-hour days for weeks. The older we get, the harder it gets. Most people I’ve talked to about sale ownership think that we work a couple of months out of the year and relax for the rest of the year. One gal we know who started a sale handed us her mailing list after her first attempt and said she had no idea how hard we worked. Another group we know sold their sale after just a couple of events, saying they had no idea how hard it would be on their families. It’s grueling, but rewarding!
What do you see as the biggest challenge for your first-time consignors?
For first-time consignors, the process can be a little daunting. Many newbies tend to over-price and consequently their items do not sell well and their work is wasted. Our most popular clothing price-point is in the $4-5 range. Veteran consignors price LOTS of items in this range and sell 90% of what they bring.
What are three tips you’d give consignors to increase their sell-through rate/profits?
Three tips I’d give to increase sell-through rate and profits are to prepare items carefully to display well, including cleaning and pressing as needed, price competitively and allow items to be discounted on the final days – 75% of items sell at full price anyway. Allowing discounts prevents carrying home those remaining items.
What are your hottest sellers?
Wagons are THE hottest seller! Probably because they double as shopping carts!
What should shoppers bring with them when they shop at Kids EveryWhere?
Although we provide shopping baskets, bringing a wagon, stroller or beach buggy is a great idea to make shopping easier. We LOVE kids, but Kids EveryWear is a huge sale and crowded, leaving kiddos home when possible will definitely make shopping less hectic. Bring their sizes and measurements instead!
Where do you see your sale in 5 years?
In 5 years we would love to have a permanent facility. The mall has been a huge blessing, but at some point the space will be re-purposed and we are praying for an awesome new home when that happens. We are also excited to pass the baton to our older daughters, who could already just about run the event! They have been raised at the sale and are awesome helpers!
Tell us about your charity / community involvement.
We give back to the community through a couple of avenues. First we host a Shop-For-A-Cause Event. Prior to opening to the public, shoppers are admitted with a $15 donation, 100% of which is donated to the local, kid-friendly charity of their choice. They bring a $15 (or more) check to the charity in an addressed envelope and we supply the postage. We also accept donations of diapers and wipes for admission. This year we collected more than $10,000 for charity and tons of diapers which we donated to Catholic Parish Outreach for their ministry to pregnant moms. We also donate all unsold items which are not picked up by consignors at the end of the sale. We have two key volunteers: Bonnie Wolf and Jen Benoit who funnel ALL of these items to local charities who can use them best. Each sale this involves more than one ton (literally) of leftovers! And countless hours of their time and energy! Some beneficiaries include Catholic Parish Outreach, UNC NICU, With Love from Jesus and local public classrooms among MANY others!
What’s your best etiquette tip for volunteers?
Our best etiquette tip for volunteers is SMILE! We love it when volunteers feel a sense of ownership at the sale. They represent us to the shoppers, and we are so blessed to have volunteers who act professionally and give customers the same level of customer service that we ourselves try to give!
What’s your top organization tip for displaying shoes?
We have a unique display system for our shoes which makes them super organized and visible for ease of shopping. Basically the racks consist of wire fencing with clips for shoes. Each pair is hung on these fence panels and they are arranged, by size, such that each pair can be clearly seen. The panels are supported in 5 gallon buckets filled with cement.
What advice has someone given you that’s stuck with you through the years?
We strive to honor the Lord in all that we do. The sale is demanding and has the potential to bare all of our sins! When my son was three, he asked me why the sale made me say bad words – haha. Since then, I try to remember that we are on display more than ever as His witnesses and remember that my purpose is to live not for my glory but for His!