Wee shopping spree
Weekend sale lets parents sell, buy kids’ items
By Melody Hennessee
Call it recycling at its best.
WeeRuns, a twice-a-year consignment sale, offers kids’ used clothes, toys, furniture, and maternity clothes for two weekends a year.
“I think of it like the circs,” said Deane Belk, who began WeeRuns in 1994. “There’s a lot of excitement around it because it comes and goes.”
Nearly three years ago, Belk was looking for a way to make some money while she stayed home and cared for her son, Garrison. She and her husband, Stan, were vacationing with family at the beach when her sister-in-law mentioned Kids’ Stuff, a semi-annual consignment sale that she operates in Nashville, Tenn.
“These are really big out there,” Belk said. “She had been doing hers for two years, and it was doing real well.”
Belk held her first consignment sale in the fall of ’94 at her home. She enlisted 25 sellers and mailed out 500 invitations. She hung racks in the sun porch for all the clothing and put the big toys and equipment in the garage.
“We found out that is was against zoning because it’s really not a yard sale, so I coulnd’t have it at home again,” she said. “But it was enough of a success that I knew I could take the risk and rent out space.”
She held her second and third sales in empty retail space at Westchester Mall.
“It grew and did better each time,” she said. “We had more sellers, more buyers, and my mailing list grew.”
Her fifth WeeRuns sale is scheduled for Sept. 14-15 in the Archdale Commons shopping center. It will be located in a 3,000-square-foot space that was formerly rented by Archdale Office Supply. In less than three years, her mailing list has grown from 500 to 5,000 and her sellers now number 100.
She now has as many helpers as she did sellers for the first sale. These helpers agree to work a four-hour shift in exchange for the chance to shop a day earlier than the general public, she said. As a perk, sellers also get the chance to shop early.
The early bird shoppers don’t put a big dent in the selection. Although most customers are from the Triad, people travel from Southern Pines, Lumberton, Reidsville and Virginia to get a chance at WeeRuns’ consignment bargains. They also come to sell their own used clothing, toys and equipment.
To become a seller, people need to call Belk and make an appointment to bring by their merchandise. Belk assigns each seller a number, which is marked on the hangtags, along with the price. At the end of the sale, sellers come by to pick up their check and the items that didn’t sell. Belk keeps 40 percent of the profit and sellers take home 60 percent.
One advantage to WeeRuns is the quick turnaround, Belk said.
“Once you bring your items in and once you get your check, it’s all over within a month,” she said.
Belk turns down any clothing that has holes, spots, rips, missing buttons or that looks very worn. Likewise, she won’t accept toys that are broken, have parts missing or don’t have fresh batteries installed.
“WeeRuns is a great way to sell your items and get most of your money back,” she said. “But it’s also a way for people to buy some really nice clothes and toys below retail cost. When you see women shopping for bargains in used clothing, it can be a funny sight. Some people take it very seriously.”
Belk continues to expand WeeRuns and make it better. This year, she has invited seven on-site vendors, from a specialty Halloween costume maker to a high-end children’s clothing line. Belk also bought 300 pair of new shoes below retail cost from Clay’s Bootery when it went out of business earlier this year.
Although Belk is studying to be a travel agent, she still plans to continue WeeRuns.
“It’s been lots of fun,” she said. “I’ve been able to stay home with Garrison and not work. It’s been a great way for me to keep my mind active, to stay busy, meet new people and make money. It’s also a great way for me to get clothes and toys for him and to sell what he outgrows.”
“I’d probably do it even ifit was a break-even situation. Fortunately, it’s been worth it.”
Reprinted, with permission, from Tuesday, August 13, 1996 edition of the High Point Enterprise.