ELMHURST – When faced with a common dilemma of whether to work or stay home full-time with kids, Leslie Schlesinger decided to create a business that would only take her away from family a couple weeks a year: the biannual Savvy Sister Sale, which gives shoppers a chance to buy gently used designer clothes and accessories for deep discounts.
The sale will be from May 18 through 21 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Elmhurst.
“The motivation was just to do something that was part-time and I enjoy,” said Schlesinger, who moved to Elmhurst in 2015 from North Carolina because of her husband's job. “I wanted to get into the community and be able to make an impact on people’s lives. We have three different types of people who receive a benefit. Consignors are looking to clean out their closet and make a little extra money. Our shoppers are looking for a good deal. Our vendors are really happy because it puts them in front of people already shopping."
In June 2016, Schlesinger teamed up with co-owner Sarah Link, another mother she met at her children's school, to present the first pop-up Savvy Sister Sale, which she said attracted 62 people selling dresses, pants, shoes, handbags and more through consignment, where sellers are only paid for what sells during the four days. Schlesinger offers consignors the option to either donate or pick up the items that don't sell after the event ends.
Kristen Hutchinson said she liked the idea that the unsold portion of her 300 pieces consigned at the last sale would go to charities that give the clothes and accessories directly to those in need.
“I never consigned before. I honestly have not ever gone to a thrift store," Hutchinson said. "I think this is fun. I like finding a good deal."
She said she also was a shopper and a vendor selling new Keep Collective jewelry, in addition to being one of 75 consignors at the second Savvy Sister Sale in fall 2016.
“It’s impossible not to shop when you drop off your items,” said Laura Gibson, who met the Savvy Sister Sale owners through Edison Elementary, the school that all of their children attend.
Gibson was a consignor and shopper at the last event and liked the social aspect of it.
“I remember talking to others and admiring other things people had picked out. It's fun to see what other people were showing their friends,” Gibson said.
She said she appreciated the time and energy Schlesinger and Link put into the sale to make it as nice as they can.
"It’s definitely a step up from Savers or Goodwill because they have taken time to screen things," Gibson said.
Schlesinger said their upcoming third sale has grown to 100 consignors, but the business is not profitable yet.
“You have to start somewhere,” Schlesinger said. “We hope going into our second year we could break even on our initial investment.”
She said she does not plan to expand the Savvy Sister Sale beyond twice a year because of the time commitment required by the two owners, who each have three children all younger than 12 years old.
“It's like planning a wedding for your closest 5,000 friends in six months,” Schlesinger said.
She said the first day of the sale is only open to consignors and vendors, and the last day of the sale features half-price on most items – on top of the already deep discounts that Schlesinger described as 50- to 90-percent off retail price for top designer brands like Tory Burch, Ann Taylor, Madewell, Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister and more.
If you go
What: Savvy Sister Sale
When: May 18 through 21
Where: Knights of Columbus Hall, 537 S. York St., Elmhurst