Imagine picking up outfits by Carter's, Gymboree or OshKosh B'Gosh for a few dollars.
Or Graco strollers, Orbit infant car seats or Fisher-Price high chairs for a third, or less, of their price, new.
Those are some of the items available today and Saturday at the fourth annual Children's Consignment Sale at Columbia Community Church in Richland.
The sale is organized by Sara Cabe of Kennewick and her team of five friends, with support from other volunteers who sort and sell clothing, toys, bouncy seats, baby bottles, cloth diapers and swing sets.
"About the only thing not accepted are cribs because there are too many recall notices out. We could never keep track of them," said Robin Wojtanik of Kennewick.
She's not a member of the church but has been a volunteer at the sale since it began.
"You don't have to be a member of the church to shop, sell or volunteer," Wojtanik said.
Volunteers get a special perk. They get to shop the day before the sale opens to the public.
Cabe said the idea for the sale came from Karen Gaydosh of Richland.
"She heard about children's consignment sales while living in Tennessee where they have quite a few of them," Cabe said. "We decided to try it."
The sale started out small the first year but grew so rapidly with buyers and sellers that she capped the number of people allowed to consign items.
This year, she allowed only 100 people to sign up to sell.
"Even so, we'll have over 10,000 items to sort, tag and sell," she said.
At least 400 of them came from Cabe's household, which includes two children, ages 8 and 6.
"They have the luxury, being my kids, of being at the church all week. They get to see all the fun things they just have to have and do a test drive for us," Cabe said.
Wojtanik said what sets this sale apart from a garage sale is that Cabe and her committee accept only items of high quality and in good condition.
"They don't take things that are stained, torn or horribly out of fashion," Wojtanik said.
"They also check out the toys and games and make sure they all work and all the pieces are there. It also has to be for the upcoming season, especially clothing,"
Each seller is assigned a number that goes on the tag. Prices are set by the person consigning the items so there's no haggling. However, if there's a dollar sign printed on the tag that item will be half price on Saturday.
"If you wait, you can take a chance that it'll still be there and save some money. But there's no guarantee," Wojtanik said. "Really, there's good deals to be had either day."
At the close of the sale, all items marked with a red heart on the tag are donated to charity. Others are returned to the seller.
Proceeds from each sale are split -- with 70 percent going to the sellers and 30 percent going to charity. This year's beneficiaries are Grace Clinic and the Tri-City Union Gospel Mission.
"We choose different charities each time. We look around, see who needs help," Cabe said. "Last year's two sales raised $11,000 dollars for charity and was split between Lutheran Community Services and Kadlec Regional Medical Center's Pediatric Therapy Services."
Early on, Cabe and her team staged just one sale a year, in the spring. They now hold another in the fall.
"We discovered there was so much merchandise for the fall and winter that didn't sell because people did not want to store it," Cabe said. "Also, it's hard to judge how big your youngsters will be come fall or what their interests will be. People would rather wait."
That helps explain why both sales have become so popular.
"Consignors get a place to sell and probably get more for their stuff than they could on their own at a garage sale. Shoppers get a big selection all in one place," Wojtanik said.
And there's also the environmental aspect.
"With so much plastic being used in kid's toys and equipment, I'd rather see these things being used in another home with other kids rather than being sent to the landfill," Wojtanik said.
-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org