Strollers, bottles, books and clothes — every mother needs them. Whether she's a first-time mom or already has children, she knows taking care of a new baby isn't easy, and the troubling economy hasn't made it any easier.
A little over a year ago, Lauri Davenport, a local mother of three, thought the same thing and asked herself: What if moms in any financial situation could connect with other moms and swap new or gently used items for a fraction of the cost?
So, while watching "Good Morning America" one day before heading off to her day job at a computer software company, she found a way to make that thought a reality.
Looking for a job in building camaraderie among moms in Central Florida, Davenport bought a franchise of Just Between Friends, an organization that allows moms and families the opportunity to sell their children's items, set their own prices and be bargain shoppers of other consignors' items.
"Moms want a one-stop shop," Davenport said. "They want the best for their children. It's for young moms looking for ways to save money and be better stewards for their family's finances."
Just Between Friends started in 1997 in Tulsa, Okla., by two women and has since spread to all parts of the U.S.
Davenport's franchise is the only one in Central Florida, making a total of seven in the state.
The large-scale swap meets happen twice a year, one in the spring and one in the fall, and the next sale is just in time for back-to-school on Aug. 10-14.
Growing every time a sale comes around, she said there are about 26,000 items in the Just Between Friends' database, but that she expects a little more than 20,000 items at the actual sale.
The way it works is that families tag/price their items online, print barcodes indicating the price they set for each item and then bring their items to the drop-off location. Parents don't have to be present while their items sell.
Davenport said all items then go through a hand safety inspection by volunteers to ensure they are quality goods before they ever make it to the shopping room floor.
She said as consignors, individuals earn 65 to 70 percent of the sale, a much higher percentage than other consignment sales, Davenport said, while the other percentage goes toward venue cost, marketing, equipment, incentives, personnel costs, insurance, royalties, etc.,
Items that don't sell, however, go to the Mustard Seed of Central Florida, a non-profit furniture and clothing bank established in Central Florida in 1984, so that "everything stays right here," Davenport said.
Michelle Lyles, Mustard Seed of Central Florida executive director, said Just Between Friends is a great service and opportunity for families to get a wide range of items for children and teens. Lyles said Davenport is "doing an amazing job in serving the community."
Just Between Friends takes most everything for infants, children and teens, with the exception of baby cribs because of so many recent recalls, Davenport said.
She said word of mouth between moms is the biggest marketing tool.
Ginger Bailey, a first-time mother of a 5-month-old baby, is no stranger to consignment sales, but said she heard about Just Between Friends from none other than her own friends.
Having been to other consignment sales, Bailey said she's looking forward to seeing what Just Between Friends has to offer. And for those who have children that have outgrown things, Bailey said it's the perfect place to benefit others and make back some of the money they spent.
"Most of the big items I have, I've gotten through consignment sales," Bailey said.
"Paying half the price for gently used items that children outgrow — what's not to love?"
Just Between Friends of Central Florida's Back-To-School sale is Aug. 10-14 at the First Baptist Church of Altamonte Springs, located at 900 N. St. in Longwood. Visit www.jbfsale.com for information on how to become a consignor and if your interested in expanding the Central Florida franchise.