By JUDY SHERARD
Spring means clearing out the clutter, and that includes children's outgrown clothes and gear.
Kansas Kids Closet might be the answer to recycle gently used children's clothes and gear such as headbands, bottles, shoes, toys and assorted bags.
It also meant bargains for those shopping the Hays sale in the Unrein Building at the Ellis County Fairgrounds on Friday and Saturday. The consignment sale business, owned and operated by Michael and Amber Gray of Sterling, started six years ago in Hutchinson.
The couple participated in sales in Wichita when they lived there. After moving to Hutchinson, they took out a small loan and opened a sale there, Amber Gray said.
"Growth was bigger and faster than we ever could imagine, and (Amber's sister, Lacey Lyne of Plainville) said, I think we should start one in Hays since that's where I live."
Lyne and her husband, Daniel, are partners with the Grays in the Hays sale, which started three years ago. The Hays sales are smaller than the ones in Hutchinson but are growing.
"We don't have a storefront; it's just a sale that we have three times a year," Amber Gray said.
Consignors must sign up before the sale and prepare their own items. They make 70 percent of what they sell minus a $10 consignment fee.
They set their own prices, but if the sisters are asked, they recommend pricing items at one-third of the price of new.
"People come in trying to barter. Unfortunately, we can't barter prices because we don't set them most of the time," Amber Gray said.
The sisters also offer express tagging.
"We do this for a lot of full-time working moms. They bring the stuff to us, and we do the work for them," Amber Gray said.
Express tagging consigners make 40 percent.
"We inspect everything that comes through the door," she said.
Items with stains and tears or holes don't make it to the sale rack.
"If it's something we don't want to buy for our own kids, we don't want to sell it," Lacey Lyne said. "We want to be able to offer good quality products for our customers."
Terri Plante, Hays, was buying summer clothes for her two daughters, Lyla, 22 months, and Jayci, 5, at the sale Friday.
"I try to make it (to the sale) every time," she said.
Hays resident Mary Ann Craig shops for her youngest grandchildren. She has 16 in all, but some are older and prefer to shop for themselves.
This is the second sale she's attended. She brought consignment items from her granddaughter at the last sale and likely will bring more in the fall.
Consigners pick up items that didn't sell, or the Grays and Lynes take them to a local charity.
Consigners' checks are issued within two weeks after the sale.
Volunteers help with flyer distribution and the day of sale. In return, they get to shop before the doors open to the public. Approximately 30 volunteers are needed, and the spots fill quickly, Amber Gray said.
Each sale usually runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, with some half-price items Saturday.
The next sale will be in August. For information or to get on the email list, go to thekansaskidscloset.com.