If you spend 25 years doing something, you know what works well and what needs to change. You learn from your successes and your mistakes.
Suzette Decker, owner of KidStuff Sale, began by helping herself sell and buy clothing for her daughter. And she helped a handful of other moms in the process.
But over the ensuing years, as Kidstuff Sale has grown, she has helped families make extra money to help them purchase the next season’s clothes for their kids. She has helped families not spend quite as much for the holidays for high-quality toys for their kids. She has helped ensure items families no longer needed didn’t end up prematurely in the city landfill.
To celebrate 25 years, we’re looking back at Suzette and KidStuff over the years–how its grown and changed.
After starting in a garage, KidStuff sales have grown up–Louisville Business First
By Amanda Arnold – Correspondent
Sep 29, 2008 Updated Sep 26, 2008, 8:00am EDT
When Suzette Decker’s daughter was 3, she discovered a way to dress her child in quality fashion while enabling other moms to find bargain deals.
In 1997, Decker attended a children’s consignment sale held by a former colleague. When the co-worker moved away, Decker, of Louisville, decided to hold her own sale.
That October, Decker organized her first seasonal consignment sale with 25 moms in her garage.
“I told the ladies that we would have one big sale, but I would manage it and run the advertisement. Also, we would get more people because it was strictly kid stuff,” said Decker, 43, who handled the administrative duties with her mother.
Instead of a traditional yard sale, Decker said, the layout was similar to a store with clothing hung and designated by gender, size and season. Decker also rented tables for accessories.
Sideline becomes main job
The sale grew in popularity. In 2000, Decker left her position as a sales administrator at Brown-Forman Corp. to remain home with her children and focus more on her business, which she named KidStuff Sales LLC.
“At that point, I gave (KidStuff) a little more attention,” Decker said. “I never really tried to build it as a business until the last few years. It was just more of a fun thing to do.”
She moved KidStuff Sales from her garage to the Owl Creek Neighborhood Sports Center six years ago, and during the summer of 2007, the sale was held at Hoops Inc. in Sycamore Station Plaza.
Seasonal sales in three markets
Sales are held in the spring and fall in several locations, including the Basketball Academy in Eastpoint Business Center, the YMCA Indoor Soccer Complex in Oldham County (scheduled for Oct. 10 to 12) and the National Guard Armory in New Albany.
The Southern Indiana sale originally was scheduled for Sept. 19 to 21, but now will occur Oct. 22 to 26 because of last week’s windstorm.
“It’s three different markets, three different venues, three unique shopping audiences, and three unique selling audiences with different stuff at different venues,” said Decker.
Each sale offers children’s clothing, toys, accessories and home décor.
The sales have more than 300 consigners and an average of 30,000 items. Decker declined to disclose sales or net income figures.
Consigners at KidStuff Sales keep 70 percent of the proceeds, and Decker gets 30 percent plus a $10 registration fee to offset rental fees. Decker said the average consigner grosses $400.
Shoppers become staffers
Decker staffs the events with mothers who work one-and-a-half-hour or four-hour shifts. Decker offers early shopping benefits for those who work.
“We encourage the four-hour shift, and those ladies get to shop earlier than the other consigners,” Decker said.
Consigners who work longer shifts can shop at 3 p.m. on the Thursday before a sale, and those who work the shorter shifts can shop at 5 p.m. Other consigners may attend a private sale later that night.
The public hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
A different approach
Stephanie Pfeifer, of Louisville, is sold on KidStuff’s approach. She started selling consigned goods through KidStuff 10 years ago because she prefers its approach over that of traditional consignment shops.
“I tried to take stuff to consignment shops, and they’d go through it and want this and that,” said Pfeifer said.
Decker manages the sale by providing sale racks and advertising and hiring a cashier, but she gives the consigners control over pricing.
“With us, you’re responsible for the price. If it’s overpriced, you’re going to carry it home.”
Consigners deliver and tag their own items through My Consignment Manager software. Consigners register the merchandise with information such as pricing and size, which is printed as a barcode.
At the conclusion of the sale, consigners may transfer the unsold items to the next location, keep the items or donate them to a charity.
Helping the community
Suzette Decker arranges for leftover items from the KidStuff sales to be donated to area charities.
She works with Life Bridge Ministries, which delivers the items to such local charities as Necole’s Place and the Woman’s Choice Resource Center. Consigners who choose to donate their remaining items leave the merchandise to be donated to charity.
Decker said the sale that was held Sept. 12 to 14 filled two-and-a-half trucks with children’s clothing, accessories and toys. In Indiana, Decker will partner with several charities, including Choices for Women Resource Center and Noah’s Ark, both of New Albany.
“It’s their sale, and I want the leftover items to stay in Indiana,” Decker said.
Decker also organizes fund-raisers for preschools, Scout groups and other nonprofit organizations. One school, for example, will set up a concession booth, and a Boy Scout troop will help shoppers load their vehicles for tips.