Heidi Andrejkovics, a working mom from Hudson Falls, occasionally seeks out items for her 5- and 7-year-old children at garage sales and thrift stores, but she makes a point of circling the date on the calendar for the Kids’ Exchange Consignment Sale.
Over the past few years, she has picked up bargains on summer and winter clothing, strollers, high chairs, baby carriers and all sorts of toys. She stocks up on board games and “manipulatives,” objects that will help with hand-eye coordination, for her job as a preschool speech and language pathologist.
When a girlfriend requested secondhand baby gifts at her green shower, Andrejkovics presented her with a gently used Pack ‘n Play portable play pen.
She likes knowing the Kids’ Exchange accepts only top-quality items that still have a lot of life in them.
“I love the selection. It’s different every time you go because it’s what people are trying to sell,” Andrejkovics said.
The Kids’ Exchange Consignment Sale, set for Saturday at the Chase Sports Complex, is a twice-yearly event of the Community Exchange Foundation. The nonprofit organization was founded five years ago by attorney Susan Englert Denious of Queensbury. Its mission is to act as a public “middleman” to connect children’s like-new and gently-used items — from clothing to furniture to sports gear — with the people who can use them.
“This is essentially a curated collection, this is not garage-sale quality,” Englert Denious said.
Those who wish to consign go to the organization’s website, www.exchange-foundation.org/, to register. First-timers are asked not to list more than 30 items, but there is no limit for repeat consigners. After sellers tag their items, they take them to the exchange, where volunteers inspect and group them by department to maximize shoppers’ time.
Consigners keep 70 percent of the sale price and 30 percent goes to the Community Exchange Foundation, which then distributes the money to other nonprofits. Any unsold merchandise not reclaimed by the consigners is donated to North Country Ministry’s Baby’s Place in Warrensburg.
Some families spend between $300 and $500 and outfit their children for an entire season, Englert Denious said. She shops for her own daughter at the Kids’ Exchange.
“I buy half of her wardrobe at the sale. We have everyone come to shop across all (socioeconomic) lines,” she said
Englert Denious, who earned an undergraduate degree in economics, said she likes to maximize utility. She said she saw a need for her organization after moving here from Colorado with her husband, Dr. Edward Denious.
In five years, the Kids’ Exchange has grown “tremendously,” she said.
Over the previous nine sales, more than $250,000 worth of kids’ merchandise has been redistributed and 10 organizations have benefited, included The Snuggery and Cindy’s Comfort Camp at the C.R. Wood Cancer Center at Glens Falls Hospital, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Crandall Public Library’s Children’s Department.
Englert Denious hopes to donate up to $20,000 after Saturday’s sale to another local cause.
“It’s win-win for volunteers, consigners, shoppers, community, the non-profits that receive the distributions from us and, especially in line with this mission, we’re saving all this merchandise from the landfill,” she said.
At least 160 families have consigned for Saturday’s event, with about 20,000 items available for purchase. More than 100 volunteers, including players from the Glens Falls Greenjackets football team, have signed on to help.
Pam Frazier, head of the children’s department of Crandall Public Library, said donations from local groups like the Community Exchange Foundation allow for the “little extras.”
“It’s so appreciated. If we can get a special music program or play or magic show, it supports all those things,” Frazier said.
Denious Englert said it has been gratifying to watch her organization grow. She plans to make an announcement in January about the launch of another project that will be in line with the foundation’s mission.
“It’s been five years of my life I’ve devoted and I’m really proud of what this has accomplished. This event has tremendous potential, it could go region-wide or statewide,” she said. “I go to sleep happy.”