If you are looking for a one-stop shop to buy children's and maternity items at a fraction of their retail price, then you need to see the consignment sale organized by two Pine Township moms.
Kristin Krause and Michelle Hall—working as franchisees for Just Between Friends of Pittsburgh North— are holding their spring sale in the golf dome at Robert Morris University's Sports Center on Neville Island.
They will be open today (Friday) until 7 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Sunday everything is half off from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"It's a one-stop shop (for buyers) looking for bargains," said Kristin. "You can find it all under one roof."
At last fall's sale, more than 60,000 items from 300 consignors were included. The women also had 150 volunteers help out and they expect more of everything with the spring sale.
Just between Friends of Pittsburgh North holds two sales a year.
People who sell items at the sale receive 60 percent of the sale price. If they volunteer to help at the event, they receive 70 percent and get to shop for the best deals before the event is opened to the public.
"People plan their weekends around it," said Kristin, with some customers traveling from as far away as West Virginia and Sharon, PA, on the Ohio border.
"For shopping, people feel it's worth it (for the) great deals," said Michelle.
Much of the work is done beforehand—consignors sign up online and can print out bar-coded tags to attach to their items. A pricing guide on the Just Between Friends website suggests that sellers price items at around one-half to one-third of the retail price.
Only new or gently used items are accepted. If an item is torn, worn, broken, stained or smells bad, it won't be accepted.
Consignors can even watch the sales online during the event; they are paid within two weeks after the event is over.
Whatever is left when the sale closes Sunday may go back to the consignor or it will be donated to Focus on Renewal in McKees Rocks.
Just Between Friends of Pittsburgh North donated more than $30,000 worth of items in 2011 to Focus on Renewal, which offers health care, parenting classes, daycare, a food pantry, legal aid, a credit union and more.
Customers may also add $1 to their purchase to donate to Focus on Renewal. In that way, $330 has been donated to the nonprofit also.
Kristin said she first heard about Just Between Friends from her sister, who does consignment sales in the Philadelphia area. She offered to help her.
"It was one of those 'aha' moments," she said. "I stayed, I shopped, I helped."
When she came home to Pine Township, she told Michelle about Just Between Friends and they started looking into franchise opportunities.
Kristin and Michelle met about four or five years ago and had an uncanny amount of coincidences in their lives—both have two children who are close to the same age, their sons play for the same soccer team, their birthdays are 10 days apart and even their dogs look alike.
"We're one big extended family," Kristin said.
"I was intrigued," Michelle said about the franchise opportunity. She had worked part-time before moving to the area from Cincinnati and she wanted flexibility so she could spent time with her children.
"It's a lot of work to organize," she said of the spring and fall sales. Michelle and Kristin work year-round to organize the events, they said.
"It keeps us busy," said Kristin.
Michelle added: "More so than we expected."