This past weekend I heard from my sister in law about a “Cluster Sale” in Tinley Park. The only thing I knew was that she would be going at 7:30 to wait in line, although the sale didn’t start until 9AM. A friend she was going with had been to the sale the prior spring, and let us know that if you wanted particular big items or the best choice of clothing, it was a good idea to get there early to be one of the first to get in.

cafeteriaThe sale was all baby items, many sold by members of a multiples club. The sale included high chairs, strollers, swings, bouncy seats, and all the typical large baby gear; toys and books; and a huge high school cafeteria full of clothes sized infant to preteen. Sellers pay to participate, set their own prices, and all use the same tags so it’s easy to identify the size and price when shopping. The clothing was all Fall and Winter season, and organized according to boys and girls  by size. They take care of your entire purchase in the checkout area (and I assume they save the tags to reimburse the sellers later). They encourage shoppers to bring laundry baskets, as they anticipate you to find a lot to carry around and won’t let you bring in bags.

I pictured designer wedding dress trunk sales, where Bridezillas scream at eachother and wrestle back and forth for the first dress they can get their hands on. Although this sale would be moms, which, when fighting for their children elevates the anger to a whole new level, so we may be in for witnessing some broken limbs. I was intrigued.

My mother-in-law and I decided to show up at around quarter to 9, to avoid the hour and a half wait, since we didn’t have anything particular in mind we wanted to purchase. We waited in line until around 9:15, so we didn’t miss too much by getting there later, although several people were in line with larger items and toys were largely picked over already.
Armed with a large Dunkin Donuts coffee with cream and sugar and my laundry basket, I headed straight for boys winter clothes, size 18 months, and tore through as fast as I could, pulling any clothes I might consider and putting them in my basket. I could tell I was one of the first to go through that size, as I found a lot of great items. We were surprised at some of the prices—outfits for $10. We passed those right up—why not just go to Carters! A lot were priced more reasonably—$2-5 per item or outfit—slightly better than the clearance rack at an outlet store.

My mother-in-law was like a personal shopper. She held my basket while I went through some racks and sorted my finds, helped pick out some clothes, and pointed out other parts of the sale we might want to check out, like the coat rack at the other end of the room. I recommend bringing help if you’re serious about buying!

ClothesIt (sort of unfortunately) wasn’t like a Bridezilla sale. Everyone in the Boys 18 months section, anyway, was super polite even though we were at times crammed like a one-month-old in newborn sized clothes. Then again, I figure most of those moms have a 9 or 10 month old son, and that is the best baby age yet. (Personality shining, curiosity piqued, not quite tantruming yet.) I didn’t get a chance to check out possible momzillas in the 0-3 month section.

I ended up with a whole winter wardrobe for WV—about 5 each of pajamas, jeans, play outfits, and shirts. I also got a lighter jacket, a down winter coat, and an adorable vest. All for only $44.50! Another one of these sales is happening in Crystal Lake on September 18 and another in Elgin on March 12. Can’t wait!