Kids Exchange (7/20/2012-7/22/2012)

Kids Exchange is not something to do with your kids (please don’t!), but for your kids. If you haven’t been, you have to see it: A massive parallel consignment sale for children’s clothes, toys and equipment (strollers, high chairs, etc.) As a geek, I’m impressed with their simple yet effective logistics that handles the 3,000 sellers and 30,000 buyers with ease. If you buy 20 items you pay just once like at the grocery store, and their software magically distributes the money to the sellers; a dollar here, and dollar there. Very easy for buyers (and sellers), presumably a headache for the programmer behind it. But enough geeking out, here some practical tips:

How many Elmo eyeballs in this picture? (from KidsExchange 1/2012)

  • Check their guidelines and hours. 30,000 buyers in one giant room. You don’t want to be there at peak hours, and you want to understand the system. Consider your first visit a trial run.
  • Bring a stroller or radio flyer cart. Without the kids. (They have shopping carts, but often run out.)
  • Almost everything gets automatically marked down 50% on Sunday. Plan accordingly.
  • Have a plan of what you need, or it can be overwhelming. First time we went (while expecting our first one), all we bought was a bag with 17 baby socks for a $1 total. Can’t go wrong with that! Everything else was too overwhelming. (See next point.)
  • Don’t go looking for “a stroller”. There are hundreds of them for sale there. You can do research, decide that you probably want a Britax B-Ready, and pick from the 25 available one that matches your idea of price and condition.
  • I know people sell stuff (or volunteer) just so they get to buy early on Thursday when only sellers are permitted. (Can’t give tips on that yet.)

Finally, don’t think this is just for families with budget constraints. Yes, it is typically cheap (but check carefully), but I also value the huge selection when compared to baby stores and the ease of shopping; twice a year everything in a location. And as a parent, you should have no problem putting up with the head-spinning craziness of it all.

Finally, if you do go and are impressed by the massiveness of the event: Yes, it is the largest consignment event in the nation, and they have now started franchising the concept. But Raleigh is – you guessed it – number one!

Friday 9-6, Saturday/Sunday 9-5. NC State Fairgrounds. kidsexchange.net

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