Twice a year, the pink cow rises. Like a welcome beacon; a bat signal of sorts, for moms and dads, vendors, aunts and grandmas all across the Inland Empire, a call to arms- an experience like none other.
Twice a year, people who have never heard of it wonder… “did I really just see a flying pink cow?”
Well friends, you weren’t dreaming… that was the mascot of Moo La La Boutique- one of the best and fastest growing consignment events in the Empire and they need your help this year.
If you have never heard of Moo La La, it is likely you don’t live within 80 miles of Redlands, California but you have children or know people who do, this article will be worth your time.
What is it?
Moo La La is a bi-yearly consignment event for families. They accept toys, games, books, clothing, motorized and push-pedal cars, bicycles, baby gear, nursery items, furniture, bedding, even maternity and nursing equipment, clothing and gear and a TON more, all to be sold under the Moo La La roof.
They advertise “quality items at 60-90% off retail” and that is absolutely true, if not even a little modest.
There are thousands of items for sale, this year’s spring sale’s item total rounded around 45,000 on pre-sale day.
After the sale, consignors can come and pick up any unsold items and take them home, OR- they can allow Moo La La to donate them. Here’s how that works, as stated on their website:
“**All unsold items marked for “donate” will be given to local charities directly after the sale closes. We pledge that we will not keep or resell any merchandise that has been donated or retained after our sale.**”
After the spring sale this year, they donated all unsold items to San Bernardino Pregnancy Resource Center and Loved Twice Inland Empire.
Who are the geniuses who thought of this?
The women who created the concept, Carrie and Amy, were two, stay at home moms looking for a way to supplement their income while never having to leave their babies. They came up with an amazing plan to hold a seasonal, consignment event. When asked, they always say they do this “because it’s a great way for every mom to make some extra Moooola!!” and man, are they right! Not only does it help mommies save money by being able to buy items second hand at great prices, but it also helps mommies make money as cosigners AND as vendors.
What is in it for the sellers
Consignors are responsible for cleaning, hanging, pinning, pricing and tagging all items for the sale. They then bring the ready to sell items to the Moo La La doors, where their items are inspected and approved according to the rules provided in their FAQ’s online. Once they pass inspection, they are shelved and hung, ready for public sale.
Consignors are automatically given 65% of the sale prices, determined by the consignor. If the consignor wants to volunteer her time during the sale, she will receive another 5% if she offers to take on 2 or more 3 hour shifts. If she agrees to donate all unsold items after the sale is over, she is given an additional 5%. So, it stands to reason a consignor could make up to 75% of the total sale price on all items sold.
This is a pretty standard percentage and is extremely fair. The cost removed goes into the intense work these ladies, and their families do throughout the year, but especially the month of the sale in promotion, marketing, renting the building, the time and energy it takes to put the sale together, electronic equipment to sell items, permits to host the sale, the expense is not cheap and while they do make profit, their output is pretty high and as a consignor, we are paying that 35% to NOT have to deal with that on our own.
When does this amazing event happen?
They host two sales a year, one in spring- usually in March to get ready for the warmer months, the other in autumn, around early September in prep for school, the holidays and cooler weather.
The spring sale is a great time to stock up on Easter clothes, dress shoes, Easter basket trinkets, summer dresses, play clothes and bathing suits.
The autumn sale is a great time to stock up on school clothes, jackets, snow gear, Halloween costumes, Christmas gifts and holiday wear.
I hear it’s a lot of work- how much time do I have to invest to pull this off?
Well, that’s no lie. It’s hard work to get ready, but how much time depends on how many items you sell and what condition they are in when you begin preparing. Here are a few pro tips to make your life as a consignor easier:
1- When your child outgrows something, wash it, press it, hang and pin it as you would for the sale, then store it for later on the hanger ready to go.
2- Invest in hangers and safety pins EARLY and stock up throughout the year. Local discount stores do carry them, but as the sale approaches, they are almost consistently out of stock.
3- Invest in a tagging gun. They are relatively inexpensive and can save you TONS of time.
4- Consider investing in a clothing steamer. This will allow you to easily freshen up items while on the hanger without having to get out the ironing board for each item a second time.
5- Store toys that will go to the sale without their batteries. This way, when you go to get the toys ready, you can pull out their batteries and put them back in without worrying about them having gone dead over the year or ruining the device altogether.
6- Designate a space to start piling up and tagging your items near a computer ahead of time. By making sure the space is ready, you will have a much easier time dealing with the piles of toys and racks of clothing.
7- Invest in a rolling rack. I cannot tell you how important this is and you probably won’t believe me until you get one and see the difference. It’s worth it. Trust me.
8- Hang all the items by gender and size, and THEN begin logging and tag after that. Doing it in this order will help keep everything organized and in order so you can clearly see where you are at and what is left. This also helps the ladies who are approving your items and will help everyone keep track. It also helps the ladies who put away your items when they are all in order by size.
9- Don’t stress out- know this process is going to take time. Do what you can throughout the year to make it easier on you when the time comes to get down to business.
10- Remember this sale is for YOU- not them. You are preparing all of these items so some mother or father can see them. They will hand pick your item to give it new life for another child. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that while you might make back a few bucks on an item, it will soon get a whole new life and allow a new family to make memories.
So, what’s the deal about needing our help?
This season’s fall sale is in jeopardy. The girls at Moo have outgrown the building they have used the last few years, so a new location was on the horizon anyway, but then they received word that the building had been sold and they would not be able to continue using the space. Since that time, they have been searching high and low for another location and they are having a really hard time finding anything that will work. Well, not entirely true- they have found places that will work, but no one who will work with THEM. This has become a staple for Redlands and I know all the mamas who contribute and volunteer every year want to see it stay with us here in town. They have specific needs for building rental, as stated on their Facebook page:
“We have DESPERATELY been searching high and low for a location IN Redlands for our Fall 2014 Event and have come up empty!!!! We are reaching out to YOU for your help/connection with a Commercial Real Estate broker/Space before we have to start expanding outside of Redlands . We are offering a FINDERS FEE to the person who can assist us in securing a location! Please email us at info@MooLaLaBoutique.com if you can help!”
The concern is there may not be time to secure a location for the autumn sale, in Redlands, in time. As it is, they will have to push the date back into October because it just isn’t enough time to prepare for the event to take place in September. In order to pull it off, the team may have to pull out of Redlands taking Moo to another city or worse yet, cancel altogether.
The city of Redlands has hundreds of families with small children who benefit from this event as consignors, as vendors and as shoppers. Families come from Los Angeles, Orange County, Hesperia, Palm Springs, Big Bear and more. All of those families come to shop with our community in Redlands at Moo La La and the charities they donate all the extras to are benefited in countless ways.
When the girls posted on the official Moo La La Facebook page that the location they’ve been using was no longer available, hundreds of their followers replied with suggestions; local, empty buildings scattered all around the city of Redlands that could handle the event. They have evaluated each suggestion, made hundreds of calls and come up short. Each turn they have taken, each location they have tried, they have been denied for one reason or another and it would seem that local building owners are pretty unwilling to help them out.
Now, here’s my opinion- It is absolutely unacceptable that a community event of this magnitude, something that has become such a staple for so many families in our city, our neighbors throughout the Inland Empire and beyond… that NO building owner has stepped up to offer a location. In this community that boasts a love for and commitment to families, small businesses and entrepreneurship, no one, not even the City of Redlands, has been willing to sacrifice a vacant space (of which there are MANY in this town taking up space that no one is utilizing) to make this event happen for these ladies who have given so much of themselves to create something awesome for our community. It’s an insult to the work they have done so far, and an insult to the community of parents who have come to rely upon this event to better the lives of their families.
I hope that I am wrong, that the citizens of Redlands who could help actually would and they just don’t know there is a need. I am hoping that the building owners who have had to decline only did so because of conflicts with booking and other issues that were literally not in their control. That is why I am writing this. My hope is to reach someone who has the space and can work with them and their needs to make Moo La La happen for all of us this autumn season.
Here is what they told me they are looking for;
“Moo La La needs a building in Early October for minimum of 10 days. Has to be at least 18,000 sq ft and in Redlands or surrounding area. Has to have adequate parking for shoppers. A/C is a bonus!”
If you are a building owner in Redlands or know someone who is and have a location that could be used for this event, please consider reaching out to them and allowing the space to be used for Moo La La. It is only two weeks and they are willing to pay for that time. In the big picture, their event helps all of us and I’m sure every mother in town will thank you.
Please contact them via email with any location information at: info@MooLaLaBoutique.com and thank you for helping to support the moms of Redlands keep their Moo!!