Growing Cents of Style will open their doors to the public for their sixteenth seasonal consignment sale this Saturday at 9:00 a.m., and you’ll want to be first in line for their fabulous spring and summer merchandise. From baby gear to big-kid clothes, this sale has it all. You’ll find the crème de la crème of brands at a fraction of retail prices, and a selection that can’t be beat.
When the first Growing Cents of Style (GCOS) sale opened in 2006, in a small retail storefront in Barrington, 47 consignors participated with significantly fewer volunteers. It’s fair to say that, since then, word has gotten out about the twice-yearly sales: this season’s sale boasts 400 consignors, and an astonishing 257 volunteers. When Jenny posted the spring/summer sale’s volunteer slots back in mid-January, they were filled within 45 minutes.
To understand the awe-inspiring scale of the sale, all you have to do is walk into the warehouse space at Lake Barrington’s Treetime Classics. “This is our sixth sale in the Treetime Classics space, and it’s just been an awesome partnership,” Jenny says. It’s a football field-sized space, filled to the brim with the best children’s merchandise–from infant clothing to home accessories, and strollers to trikes.
As GCOS grows, Jenny works continually to ensure that her consignors and customers have the best possible experience. “We try to make it as streamlined, organized, and pain-free as possible,” she says. The best compliment she’s received from her customers is, “‘Why would I go anywhere else? You have the reputation for being the most organized, well-run sale.’ That’s just really nice to hear, because we work so hard to create and implement systems that keep things running smoothly for both consignors and customers.”
With higher volume comes the need for greater quality control, to ensure that brands are in compliance and items are in excellent condition. “We have someone here at all times during check-in doing a very thorough quality check, making sure that clothing is in great shape before it’s allowed on the floor,” Jenny says.
Over the past few years, the sale has become a family affair. Jenny’s mother, Nancy Phillips Heath; and Jenny’s sisters-in-law, Nikki Heath, Volunteer Coordinator; and Michelle Heath, Point of Sale manager, have helped Jenny focus on her increasing management duties.
Consignors, who can sell up to 100 children’s items at the sale, can also volunteer before and/or during the sale. Those who volunteer earn a higher percentage of their sales, and earn pre-sale passes. And the perks increase with the number of shifts worked: volunteers who work a greater number of shifts gain access to prime shopping times, in addition to earning more money back from their sales. Plus Jenny offers other fun incentives, like those who work three or more shifts can win a drawing with an awesome prize: 100% of their sales…
Brooke Anderson, of Fox Point, has consigned at the past ten sales. “It’s the best way to get rid of the piles of great-quality clothes that build up in your house. I have two girls, who are 12 and 13, so it’s just become part of our routine. It’s a great idea–I wish I would have thought of it!”…
Three-time consignor and mother of three Keeley Hart, of Deer Park, has made consigning with GCOS part of her clothes management routine. “As I look through my kids things, I have a ‘save’ bin and a ‘sell’ bin. As I put it away, I organize it by season so I’m ready to go when the sales open to consignors.” She’s made several hundred dollars at the sale, some of which she uses to fill her children’s wardrobes for the upcoming seasons.
Jenny Welsh regularly promotes her sales on the Growing Cents of Style Facebook page, running contests for presale passes and notifying consignors of sought-after open volunteer shifts. Social media has attracted hundreds of local consignors from near and far–as far as the North Shore, Evanston, and Wisconsin.
Moms like Ki Kellen, of Arlington Heights, help Jenny spread the word. “It was just me and a couple of friends a few sales ago, then it grew to ten of us.” Ki’s an organizer for Cheers for Moms, and she shared Growing Cents of Style’s information on the site. “Now a consignor, and I’m coming this weekend with a group of more than 20 moms.” They’re making an event of it, and going out to breakfast before the sale–how fun is that?
Jenny frequently posts giveaways and and promotions on Facebook, so it’s a great way to stay current with GCOS. She recently gave a $25 gift certificate to a mom of two whose townhome recently burned down, and who plans to attend the sale to replace what was lost in the fire. “That was just luck, of course–it was a blind drawing–but I feel so good knowing that we can help her out in some small way.”
Local charities also benefit from the sale. Barrington Giving Day, WINGS, Wishes for Scarlett, and Hope 4 Bridget all receive funds from the sale, either in the form of funds they can spend at the sale, or consignors who donate their sales to charity.
Rachel Sepe, Scarlett Sepe’s mom, says that “the funds from GCOS have paid for private swim therapy, medications not covered by insurance, and equipment needed for Scarlett to participate in therapy at home. More importantly, it has raised awareness about Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and allowed our family to feel supported by the generosity of the donors and our local community.” (To support Wishes for Scarlett and the other special causes, please look for the colored tags denoting donors.)
Jenny and her team have thought up some fun ways to keep spirits high when the lines get long. “For this sale we’re doing a lollipop tree, and giving out some Growing Cents of Style swag,” Jenny says. “If you pull the right lollipop, you might move to the front of the cashier line, or win a reusable GCOS bag, $5 off coupon, a pre-sale pass for the next sale, or a free Melissa & Doug item.”
Have fun, and happy bargain hunting!
Growing Cents of Style Spring/Summer Public Sale (Free Admission) March 8: 9am-4pm & March 9: 10am-2pm
Cash, Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express accepted (no checks)
BYOB (Bring Your Own Bags!)