The books have officially closed on the 2012 fall/winter consignment sale at Rhea Lana's West Chicagoland!!! I had the great pleasure to experience this sale from many different angles - consignor, volunteer, shopper and blogger/marketing guru - so I feel like I really understand the concept behind Rhea Lana's and what an amazing amount of energy and dedication goes in to pulling this all together for these two weeks, twice a year.
It began for me as a Consignor. I sorted through my children's clothing, books and toys that were no longer needed and decided what was in great enough condition to send to Rhea Lana's. After everything was freshly washed and pressed, I followed the step by step instructions on the Rhea Lana's website to tag and price my items according to their guidelines. While I had the freedom to price my items as I chose, there is a minimum amount that an item or group of items needs to sell for in order to qualify for this sale. At first, the website with the instructions seemed overwhelming but once I started it was very simple and no-nonsense. As long as you take your time and keep yourself organized, the process moves very quickly.
Last Friday, I dropped off my items (3 rubbermaid containers and a full size bed) to be sold. Franchise co-owners Christine DeGraf and Heidi DeGraf (daughter and mother-in-law partners) helped me with the check-in process (attaching labels to your items, reviewing them one more time for stains and tears, and then placing them on the appropriate racks/tables in the store) and I was finished in about 30-40 minutes. There were almost 200 consignors that helped stock the store with over 25,000 items for the sale! (Keep in mind that drop off is only TWO days, so all of this merchandise was processed during this time!)
Once the store was completely stocked and organized (24 hours later), the "pre-sales" began for those shoppers who were also volunteering to work the sale, consignors, and expectant moms-to-be. (The store would be open to the public the following day). I was given a pass for one of the pre-sale time slots, and I came to the store armed with a list of things I was looking for. The selection and quality of items was fantastic and I found everything on my list PLUS a few things.
Monday morning before shopping started, Rhea Lana's had the opportunity to be featured on eight segments of "Around Town" with Ana Belaval during the WGN Morning News. Ana and her crew were warm and inviting - calming everyone's nerves and making sure that each segment flowed smoothly and featured some of the best items in the store. American Girl Dolls? Had them! Almost brand new car seats and swings? Check! A fashion show highlighting some of the great deals on clothes? Got it! The phones started ringing with questions ("Can you put xyz item that I just saw on hold??"), people jumped on the Facebook page with questions, and there was a line at the door 45 minutes before the store opened! I stayed on Monday after WGN left to volunteer for a few hours, and it was amazing to hear stories from the shoppers who saw the program and a specific item in the background that they had been looking for, so they hopped in the car and headed for the store. The time just flew and I was thrilled that I was able to help out! You can watch one the of segments from "Around Town" HERE if you missed it.
By Wednesday, the store had completed four days of full price sales, and now the 50% sale began. Each consignor had the option to sell their items at half off or keep them at their original price. By this time, 75% of my items were sold and I was hopeful that the rest would sell at half-off (with the exception of the bed, which was still at full price). I volunteered to work another shift on this morning, and was very glad that I did. The store runs like a well-oiled machine, Christine and Heidi can handle anything that is thrown their way, but without volunteers it can be extremely overwhelming for just two people. Fortunately, they consistently had the support of family members and a large crew of volunteers that rotated through the store at different shifts. The morning I was there, I was the only one for several hours and it was definitely challenging to help shoppers and get everyone checked out in a speedy manner. But I had such a great time and no one every lost their smile or happy disposition! I also managed to pick up a few more goodies once my shift was over.
One more day of half price selling, and the "sale" portion officially closed on Thursday evening. Once the last customer left, the daunting process of resorting what remained began. There are two categories - those items that are donated to local charities and those items that consignors want back. This is an ALL NIGHT process as thousands of items are reviewed, sorted, and grouped by consignor number and then corresponding reports and checks are run so that everything can be picked up the following day and the store can be emptied. When I arrived the next morning to gather my check and the one item I didn't sell (shocker - it's the bed!), despite being up all night, Christine and Heidi still had smiles on their faces and were in great spirits. In the end, during the six day run of this event, Rhea Lana's of West Chicagoland sold over 55% of the items that were on the sales floor. Almost 10,000 items were donated to three amazing charities - Family Shelter Services of DuPage County, CareNet Pregnancy Services of DuPage, and the Project Gabriel Program through Women's Choice Services. I was thrilled to be a part of this amazing event, and I can't wait for the next one in the Spring!!
For more information on how you can participate as a Consignor, Volunteer or Shopper, please sign up for their mailing list. You can also follow them on Twitter @RheaLanasWC and LIKE their Facebook page HERE for updates.
Official Rhea Lana's of West Chicagoland photographer, Celestina Marie Photography, provided some of the pictures used in this post. Please visit their website for more information on additional photography products they offer.
Be sure to LIKE my blog page on Facebook at Me, Myself and Jen.
**Disclosure: I was given a media pass to one of the pre-sales on Saturday, but was not paid or given any discounts or any additional percentage on my sales as a consignor for any of the work that I did for Rhea Lana's of West Chicagoland. I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with these wonderful women and I've already got goodies set aside for the next sale!**