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It's the Spring "Just Between Friends" Sale

It's worth the drive to Santa Rosa for the super spring consignment event.

As every parent knows, as your kids grow up, you collect a ton of clothes and toys that are sometimes hardly used over the years.

In the end, they either take up space in the garage; you have a yard sale, or maybe even donate items to charity. But last year I was lucky enough to learn about the Just Between Friends sale.

When I first tell people about the massive consignment sale that's coming up, I often get the same type of response. "So it is like a giant garage sale?"

Jennifer Hundley, who runs the North Bay event, laughed when I told her this.

“We get that a lot,” she said.

“Usually I say it is an upscale consignment event. Everything is organized and neat. Plus we check for quality.”

The event is truly the correct word to describe the current sale. For those who haven’t heard about it before, Just Between Friends started back in 1997 as an idea two women had to make some money selling used kids clothing and toys, along with having the chance to purchase similar items from other parents.

Since then, the idea has blossomed all across the U.S. with events being held in 23 states!

The philosophy of the sale is to give moms the opportunity to sell their children’s gently used clothes, furniture, equipment, toys and even maternity. It is also a great place to purchase items at unbelievable prices. 

Hundley started the North Bay event with her husband Matt.  Last year, the giant sale was held both during the spring and fall. Like a well tended garden, the event has grown from taking up 7200 square feet at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds, to an 11,200 square-foot hall, to this year’s event — which will be in the even larger Hall of Flowers on the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds.

The increase in space is needed for the increasing number of both consignors and shoppers. Last year an the event pulled in 1200 shoppers in the spring and 2000 in the fall.

“We had about 150 consignors last Fall and have 337 already signed up. But that should go up as typically we have the most people sign up in the two weeks before the event,” Handley said.

Local parent Erica Auble was the first to tell me about the sale last year, and introduce me to the wonders of the consignment event.

“It is really great. We have a small stack of stuff in the garage to sell,” she said with a smile.

Consignors get a base 60 percent return on items sold, minus a flat $10 consignor fee. If you volunteer to help out at the sale you can earn an additional 5 percent.

“I really like to volunteer for item check-in,” Auble said. “It’s like window shopping before the sale starts!”

Shoppers can shop for good quality items and it is fun to find unique items and cute outfits that aren’t available at local stores.

One of the nicest aspects of the sale is the organization that makes selling so easy. You get your items ready at home by registering them into the Just Between Friends database, and then print out tags to put on your sale items.

Next, simply take them to the event at your scheduled drop off time. The people working the sale go through a quality check and then the volunteers stock items to the racks and tables based on type, size, etc. After the sale is done you can donate excess items to charity or pick them up. A few weeks later a check comes in the mail. Easy-peasy.

Speaking of charities, each consignment sale works with the community to benefit local charities. Jennifer and Matt have partnered with both the Rohnert Park Active 20-30 Club as well as Our Kids Sake, to help these charities via the sale.

The Active 20-30 Club has an annual project called KidsSpree, which helps get some of the less fortunate kids in Rohnert Park ready for the school year. More than $1,750 was raised last year by the sale for the KidsSpree.

 The program helps these kids start off the year on the same footing as their peers.

In the end, kids get backpacks, school clothes, other school supplies such as pencils, pens and markers, and even haircuts.Our Kids Sake works with homeless children throughout Sonoma County. Their mission is to raise awareness about the more than 1,000 homeless children living in Sonoma County.

“Working with Jennifer and Matt is great," said Jennifer Boden, the executive director of Our Kids Sake. "They care so much about helping the local community and finding a good home for the donated clothes from the JBF event.” 

Consignors also have the option to donate items after the sale, instead of picking them up. Last year the community at the JBF sale donated about 4,000 items to Our Kids Sake after the sales finished. The estimated value of goods donated was $15,000.

As a parent, my personal experience with the JBF sale was very rewarding. I was able to clear a decent chunk of space in the garage last fall and I made a few hundred dollars from selling unused clothes (at much better prices than a summer garage sale). Shopping at the event was really fun too, and we found some great clothes (a lot of items go to 50 percent off on the last day).

At the end of the day, we felt good knowing we helped local kids who need it.

Just Between Friends is held March 4-6 at the Hall of Flowers, at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Rd., Santa Rosa. For more information call 707-456-7523.

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