FORT WAYNE – It was a Christmas celebration with the extended family, including grandparents, when little Jack Brandt uncovered one of his presents, which happened to be a drum set that wasn’t on his list to Santa.
With complete honesty and a 4-year-old’s innocent absence of discretion, the tyke announced that he didn’t like it.
You can sell it at Lucky Duck, he told his mother in front of her in-laws, who provided the gift.
It was embarrassing, Karen Brandt says.
Though years away from learning social mores, the brazen young Jack has already grasped the concept of the Lucky Duck Children’s Consignment Sale that begins a three-day run Thursday at Ceruti’s Banquet & Event Center, 6325 Illinois Road.
While the sale has grown far beyond the expectations of Brandt, its founder, there are other elements at work. Fort Wayne charities benefit, as well as children in another country.
Racks and racks or rows and rows of children’s used clothing, furniture, shoes, books and yes, toys, will go on sale, beginning Thursday when volunteers and consignors get their first crack at the merchandise. At 7 p.m. Thursday, the public will be allowed to get a pre-sale jump for a $10 admission, 100 percent of which goes to charity. Admission is free Friday and Saturday.
It’s like a week of major adrenaline rush, Brandt says. Saturday night, I go sit on the couch with my babies and cuddle, and then clean up the next week.
Consignment agreements provide individuals to have their merchandise displayed at a store or sale, with each party dividing the profits at an agreed percentage. Consignors at the Lucky Duck sale earn a base 60 percent and can get an additional 5 percent by working a three-hour volunteer shift, up to an additional 15 percent.
Brandt, married and also the mother of 10-year-old Karsen and 2-year-old Kamryn, admits the sale has grown as fast as her children. What began four years ago as a search to resell some of Karsen’s used, but still wearable, clothes has evolved into a twice-yearly sale with 200 consigners, 25,000 items and 1,500 shoppers.
Instead of tagging her children’s clothes for a garage sale, Brandt looked into consignment shop possibilities, but those places didn’t offer much of a profit, either. That’s when Brandt set out on her own.
Through friends, networking and social media, she found about 50 others who would consign their merchandise. Each time there was a sale at Dupont Downs on Dupont Road, whether spring or fall, the event grew. Now it’s to the point where the sale has moved into the 15,000-square-foot Ceruti’s location.
What began as a few boxes of her daughter’s clothes has developed into a monster, Brandt says. Even maternity clothes are offered.
But it’s been a fun monster, she says. I knew it was going to be big, but I didn’t realize how big and how fast it was going to grow. But I’ve been very faithful at being clear in how I’m doing things, and I have high standards in what we accept. When people come shopping, they know they’re going to be getting good stuff.
We get a lot of nice, high-end boutique items. Every piece of clothing that comes in is hung and organized by gender and size. So you know if you’re looking for a boys’ size 4, that’s the section you go to. You don’t have to go searching through piles of clothes on a table.
Brandt said consigners average a $400 profit.
When the three-day event is completed, consigners can choose to either reclaim their merchandise or donate it to The Treasure House, which benefits Charis House of the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission. A tax form for the donation will be provided.
Last year the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission’s truck left entirely full, Brandt says.
But the sale serves another charity.
Brandt’s younger sister, Julie Larame, and her husband, Fan Fan, are missionaries who visit his native country of Haiti. Because they have a 6-month-old son with special health needs, she cannot travel. Her Haitian husband must pay his own travel expenses.
We are 100 percent missionary supported for our ministry in Haiti, Larame says. It’s hard to raise support, because you’re basically asking people to give monthly to your cause. That can be a hard thing to do. Being able to get this big chunk from Lucky Duck is a huge, huge help for us.
Brandt said roughly $2,400 was raised primarily from the $10 pre-admission fee – all of which went to benefit Open Door Haiti, which supports an orphanage, school and church ministry in Cap Haitien.
It’s a giant blessing for us to be able to get that, because it’s something we know we can count on, Larame says. It’s been growing with each sale. As the sale gets bigger, more people come and do the presale and pay $10 at the door. Each sale has been bigger each time.
To avoid congestion around her home, Brandt had to organize appointment times for people to drop off their items.
With an estimated 200 volunteers, including several family members, it’s turned into Brandt’s twice-a-year monster, with the next one coming in September.