I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
February 24, 2012
I’m a longtime fan of children’s consignment sales.
For the uninitiated, consignment sales are biannual affairs generally held in church fellowship halls, school cafeterias or unused warehouses. On the appointed days of the sale, moms can sell their kids’ clothing, shoes and toys, generally receiving about 70% of the price the items fetch, or they can buy gently used clothing for their kids at really good prices.
Several years ago when we were living on my husband’s salary alone, consignment sales were a budget lifesaver. I’d scour the sales for designer labels and hand-smocked dresses, and for very little money, my kids had fabulous wardrobes. When they outgrew their clothes, I’d sell them at the next consignment sale and earn enough money to buy another round of clothing for practically nothing.
As they’ve grown older, the sales have lost some of their appeal. Consignment clothing for older children isn’t as plentiful, and what’s available is generally more worn and faded than the baby gear. I’m making more money now, too, and while I still love a deal, it’s easier to shop Hanna Andersson and J.Crew sales for kids clothes these days than it is to fight my way through hordes of women all trying to lay claim to that one Lilly Pulitzer dress that’s been marked down to eight dollars.
But I have to admit it– I’ve missed the high that comes with scoring a $12 dollar pair of unworn Umi sandals or a like-new Ralph Lauren jacket. Beyond that, my son has reached the age where the quantity of his clothing matters far more than the quality- the kid can go through two or three outfits in a single day, and the six pairs of pants I bought for him this season have left me doing laundry a lot more often than I’d like. This time around, I decided to play it smart- I’d go to a few nearby consignment sales and hunt down as many inexpensive pairs of khaki shorts, pants, and polos as I could find. The journey began this morning, as I traveled to the neighboring town of Franklin for an “upscale” children’s consignment sale in the clubhouse of a swanky subdivison.
And now, a word about Franklin…
For one thing, it’s gorgeous– full of lush green hills and farmland and historic homes and a quaint little downtown area that’s got lots of fun shops and fabulous restaurants.
But Franklin can also be a little full of itself. Its outskirts contain multiple subdivisions populated with the kinds of people who like big cars and big houses… people who dress alike and talk alike and look alike and LIKE IT THAT WAY. And that’s fine for them. It’s Franklin. It’s how they roll.
Back to the story.
I drove the 15 or so minutes to Franklin and made my way into the subdivision. I was expecting super-sized houses on postage stamp lots, but I encountered something completely different. The homes were new- but they had been all built with lots of historic, individual touches, and the neighborhood had the quaint and charming feel of the Gilmore Girls’ Stars Hollow. Sidewalks lined both sides of the road and a mixed-use plan gave pedestrians actual destinations, from old-fashioned storefronts to a new school.
“I could maybe live here,” I whispered wonderingly to myself as I drove down the tree-lined streets. Whatever my preconceptions were of Franklin subdivisions, this particular one was lovely, and it was tempting to fantasize about owning a home that looked very old, but had all the amenities of a brand-new house. Maybe I was all wrong about Franklin, I thought to myself as I pulled into the parking lot of the neighborhood clubhouse, which resembled a gracious plantation home. Maybe this could be my Stars Hollow.
I climbed the grand staircase of the clubhouse and began bargain hunting. Most of the clothes were overpriced by my consignment standards, but I managed to find a few shirts and pairs of shorts and an unworn pair of summer shoes for my son. After carefully scouring the racks, I dutifully made my way to the back of the very long checkout line and spent the next 20 minutes patiently waiting for my turn to pay.
I finally got to the front of the line and pulled out my checkbook. Most consignment sales don’t take credit cards and I never carry much cash, so I’m always sure to bring a checkbook with me. I quickly filled everything out and handed my check to the saleswoman. She looked at it briefly and her polite smile faded.
“Oh,” she said. “It’s a Nashville check.” She looked back to a woman working behind her.
“This is a Nashville check,” she said. She looked back at me. “We only take checks from Franklin.”
“What?” I asked, certain I had heard her wrong.
“It’s okay,” the woman called out from behind her. “I know who she is.”
“Oh, all right then,” the saleswoman said, a smile returning to her face. “Looks like we can take your check after all.”
I could feel my blood pressure begin to rise. “Why don’t you take Nashville checks?” I asked, smiling a terrible smile.
“Well,” she said, hesitating. “We’ve had some problems with Nashville checks in the past. So now we only take checks from Franklin.”
As she handed me my things, I laughed. “Well, you know Nashville!” I said through a gritted-teeth grin. “We’re all a bunch of criminals!” I turned on my heel and I left, red-faced.
And then I drove back toward my dirty, crime-riddled slum of a city. As I crossed the border into Nashville, I was certain I heard the citizens of Franklin breathe a collective sigh of relief.
Image via Orin Zebest/Flickr