Business Sense: Bargain hunter turns skill into resale business

Published on Sunday, 27 July 2014 18:59 - Written by Casey Murphy, cmurphy@tylerpaper.com

Tara Berry always has been a bargain hunter.

When she was pregnant with her first child, she was introduced to Just Between Friends, a seasonal sales event where communities come together to buy and sell gently used children’s and maternity items.

Mrs. Berry, 38, of Canton, attended a Fort Worth sale and was amazed at the great children’s items she found for about half of the retail price.

“I’ve always been the kind of person looking for a great sale,” she said.

By the time she was having her second daughter, Mrs. Berry knew what she wanted and started bargain shopping, again visiting Just Between Friends. She began thinking it would be great to get into the franchise, which was started in Tulsa, Oklahoma, by two moms in 1997 and has since grown to 132 franchises all over the U.S. and Canada.

“I looked at it from the standpoint — what kind of things would benefit my area,” she said, adding that she wanted to do something that would allow her to stay home more with her two children, Tessa, 3, and Taylin, 2. She also is expecting her third baby.

Mrs. Berry became a franchisee of Just Between Friends a year ago, after visiting several sales in the Dallas area.

Mrs. Berry held her first sale in Tyler last August, followed by one in March.

Her third sale is set for Aug. 7 to 9 at the East Texas State Fairgrounds, Building E, which houses Agriworld during the fair each October at 2112 W. Front St.

Mothers and families bring new or gently used maternity clothing and children’s items to sell on consignment. Consignors register online, enter their information, price their items, print out tags and drop them off at the location by 8 p.m. on Aug. 5.

Mrs. Berry said they inspect the items to make sure they fit their standards. They cannot be torn or stained and if anything has been recalled, it will not be sold.

Consignors can track what has sold online, and at the end of the sale, they can choose to pick up the remaining items or donate them to St. Vincent de Paul.

A pricing guideline atwww.easttexas.jbfsale.com gives consignors an idea of where to price their items. Mrs. Berry said most are priced 50 percent to 90 percent off retail, and merchandise includes higher-end boutique brands.

While her first sale had 45 consignors, about 8,000 items for sale and about 400 shoppers; the second sale had about 12,000 items and more than 1,200 shoppers, with a line wrapped around the building when the doors opened Friday morning, she said.

Mrs. Berry has had about 100 consignors sign up for the upcoming event and expects up to 200. She also expects to attract more than 2,000 shoppers, she said.

“The best benefit of being an owner is that I’m bringing this to my community,” Mrs. Berry said.

On Aug. 7, volunteers and consignors get an opportunity to shop before the doors open to the public from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday is the only day they charge for admission. If shoppers don’t get a coupon to get in free from Facebook, several area daycares or for signing up for Just Between Friends’ mailing list, they can bring five canned goods or a $5 donation to the East Texas Food Bank. To celebrate the event’s first anniversary in Tyler, there will be door prizes, cupcakes and other activities for children and adults on Aug. 7.

The sales, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9, are free to attend and the last day includes half-price items.

The August event will fall on Tax Free Weekend again, and they will honor that — any clothing, backpacks and school supplies less than $100 will be tax free. 

They offer children’s clothing, from preemies to junior sizes and offer anything for infants, such as bottles, diaper bags, bibs, unused diapers, cribs, car seats, bouncers and toys. Items for older children include baseball cleats, gloves and bats.

Just Between Friends also offers a “Valet Tagging Program” for those families that want to sell their items but can't find the time to get their items tagged. A group of designated valet taggers will tag their items for them for a portion of the sale.

Mrs. Berry’s husband of four years, Tom, takes a week vacation to help work cash registers and help people load merchandise into their vehicles at the sale.

She chose Tyler to hold the sales because of its venues and population. She believes the city draws in shoppers, such as herself, from smaller, surrounding towns.

When she is not working on Just Between Friends, Mrs. Berry works at First Choice Emergency Room in Mesquite. She has been an emergency room nurse for 14 years and said her job is “about taking care of people and their families.”