Cheryl Cummins of Metropolis works through seller's consignment cards for the semi-annual Kidsignment sale she holds in Marion each year.

As a mother of four, Metropolis’ Cheryl Cummins loved going every year to a consignment sale in Paducah featuring children’s items. With tables and racks filled with clothes, shoes, toys and more, she always found things for her own children.

It was just after one of these sales that the idea struck.

“We could do one of these sales ourselves,” she told her husband. “I think this would be a fun thing to do.”

When he agreed, the couple decided right away that Marion would be a perfect location for a Southern Illinois version of the now-defunct Paducah event. A few phone calls and some logistics later, the Leaps and Bounds Kidsignment sale was born.

That was 12 years ago, and now the semi-annual consignment sale held at The Pavilion of the City of Marion draws cosigners and buyers from miles away. Cummins said it has grown more than she ever dreamed.

“We have consigners from Missouri, Tennessee, Indiana, Kentucky and, of course, Illinois,” she said. “It literally reaches all across the Heartland.”

The first sale had just 24 consigners. Cummins now has 2,500 registered consigners on her mailing list.

“We have somewhere between 500 and 700 consigners at each sale,” she said.

In fact, the sales have grown so large, she uses every bit of the building’s 34,000 square-foot exposition hall.

“We’ve grown so much that there’s not hardly any area in the expo area that doesn’t have something for sale. For new people coming in, it can be quite overwhelming. They just don’t expect to see the amount of things that people have brought in for sale,” she said.

Items range from clothes and sports equipment to baby gear of all sorts, children’s furniture and toys.

“We have almost anything you can think of related to children,” she said. “All the way from infants to things like junior misses sizes and strollers, car seats and even some maternity.”

Cosigners adhere to a defined tagging system to make shopping and checkout simple. Sellers set their own prices, but, if asked, Cummins will give pricing advice. She earns a small commission on every item to cover overhead and promotional expenses.

“Most consigners price their own things and that way they’re happy with what it’s selling for and they are getting a fair price. Shoppers are excited because they are getting things that are pretty much brand new at a great discount,” she explained.

Cummins handles all of the arrangements, advertising and planning for the sale and is assisted by hired cashiers who work the entire two-and-a-half-day event. She also recruits a small army of 40 to 50 volunteers to assist, drawn in by the promise of a special volunteer-only pre-sale. Post-sale, she said it takes several weeks to tally everything and close out the sale.

“I think it has grown so large because it’s just so beneficial to everyone,” she said. “When you’re trying to live on a budget and you want to have your children look nice, it’s great to have a place where you can come and shop and get good quality items for way under retail. You really can get your child’s entire wardrobe for the season.”

Cummins said the next Leaps and Bounds Kidsignment sale is set for mid-March and will feature spring and summer clothing items.

“Then typically in October, we’ll do another sale that features fall and winter items,” she added.

She said information on the sale as well as how to shop at the sale is available online at www.kidsignmentexpo.com.

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