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CAN'T AFFORD IT? CONSIGN IT!

What mom hasn't looked around her kid-centric house and felt the urge to purge, purge, purge?

It's a constant battle. You want your children to have the coolest, most age-appropriate toy on the market, but you also hate adding to the heap and spending money you don't necessarily have.

Consignment sales to the rescue! These are one-day or multiday sales of gently used kids' clothing, toys, accessories and furniture. Sellers get to unload their goods without the hassle of organizing a garage sale. Buyers get a big selection of highly discounted items all under one roof.

Unlike most consignment stores, consignment sales typically let the seller set their own price. Sellers also keep more of the purchase price, usually 60 to 70 percent. The rest goes to the sale organizers.

Stacy Thomas, co-owner of Happy Happy Hippos, a consignment sale in Brooksville (happyhappyhippos.com), says interest has soared since the economy has soured. Many of her sellers, as well as buyers, have been laid off and need the extra money. They see those princess puzzles and sets of blocks collecting dust in the corner as easy cash.

Most items at the sales sell for one-third to one-half of the original price. Organizers only take stuff in good, clean condition with no pieces missing.

Most sales offer consignors first dibs on stuff at early-bird events the day before the public sale. Volunteer to sort or clean up and you get similar perks.

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Sales coming up

Here are a few consignment sales coming up in the Tampa Bay area in the next few months. Early Christmas gifts anyone? Admission is free unless noted.

Crazy Mommas' Consignments

Saturday in the Firemen's Benevolent Association Hall, 201 E Yukon St., Tampa. Hours are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. The sale is taking donations of gently worn shoes to donate to children in Costa Rica. Each donor will receive $1 off any purchase of $5 or more. crazymommasconsignments.com.

Jumping Jeans

Oct. 23-24 at the Florida College Student Center, 119 N Glen Arven Ave., Temple Terrace. Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 24, with items 50 percent off from 5 to 8 p.m. Buyers can purchase a $2 sneak peek shopping pass from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 23. jumpingjeans.com.

Just Between Friends

Oct. 29-31 at the Tampa Bay Baptist Conference Center, 15601 Lake Magdalene Blvd., Tampa. Hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 29 and 30 and 8 a.m. to noon Oct. 31, when many items are 50 percent off. Admission is $2 Oct. 29 and free Oct. 30 and 31. tampanorth.jbfsale.com.

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