It can be hard to keep clothes that fit on your kids' backs when they grow as fast as they do - especially when you're on a budget.

Not to mention the toys, books and other fun stuff that keeps them busy.

Buying used makes sense, but not everybody has the patience to walk into the neighborhood thrift store where everything, including the kitchen sink, is tossed on a shelf with no rhyme or reason.

But what about a consignment sale, where everything is for kids and maternity needs? Even better if it's organized by size and gender.

Just Between Friends is exactly that, and it's happening Thursday through Saturday at the Tucson Convention Center.

The event offers families the opportunity to choose from more than 25,000 items including clothes, books, movies, toys, bicycles, outdoor equipment and infant equipment - and to purchase it for a third of the cost it would be brand new.

It also gives families the chance to make a few extra bucks by selling their gently used stuff or items their kids no longer use - which, let's face it, are often practically brand new.

Another plus: sellers have the option to either pick up what doesn't sell, or have it donated to Gospel Rescue Mission, said Danny Hansen, who co-owns the Tucson franchise with his daughter, Shawna Wilfert.

The father-daughter duo started the sale in Tucson about five years ago when Wilfert wanted to start a business with her dad.

"I love special events and shopping, and I have kids," Wilfert said. "So it seemed like a natural fit.

"It was also something Tucson didn't have, and a way to help families."

Hansen said he was a youth pastor for about 25 years, so he could see how families struggled financially.

"I know how hard it is as a young family to clothe the kids as they're growing," he said. "This is a way for them to be able to clothe their children reasonably ... to not have to buy new."

The consignment sale is set up like a department store.

"All the clothes are hung by size and gender and we have a books and a movie section," Wilfert said.

The items are carefully inspected for rips, tears and stains before they are put out.

Just Between Friends also keeps track of recalls and lets consumers know about them via Facebook.

Catherine Byars has been a consignor for Just Between Friends for about 2 1/2 years.

She likes "passing the joy" of items along to others.

"If it's something your kid really enjoyed and loved but hasn't played with it for a while, why not have the ability to let somebody else's child enjoy it, and make a little money back on the purchase," she said.

Byars said it's a good way to get the kids involved and teach them about organizing and saving money.

"I tell my daughter if she sells something she's not playing with anymore she gets the money," she said.

Consignors price and tag their own items, using an online bar code system. Just Between Friends handles the sales.

Sellers make 65 percent of their sales, but are encouraged to volunteer at the event in order to make 70 percent.

Wilfert said the average seller makes more than $300.

"It's a lot of fun," Wilfert said. "The sale is coming and I'm pretty excited."

Sell Your Stuff

Here are tips for successfully selling your stuff, whether you do it through consignment, yard sale or online.

"Have fun with it. Try not to be too serious," said Byars.

Put clothing items in groups. For example, make an outfit or put two shirts together.

Just Between Friends suggests pricing items at a third of the retail price. Items may be priced less or a little more, depending on condition.

Wash and clean items. Make sure they look neat. "If you go into a store and something looks messy, you just pass by it," said Byars.

Make sure to have batteries so shoppers can try stuff out.

Get the kids involved.

If selling online, have good pictures and accurate descriptions.

Have a group yard sale.

Interact with your shoppers.

If you go

What: Just Between Friends consignment sale

When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday (most items are half price).

Where: Tucson Convention Center Ballroom, 260 S. Church Ave.

Free parking in Lot B.

Cost: $2 Thursday; free Friday and Saturday.

Contact: 861-8736

Get involved:

About Just Between Friends

Just Between Friends was created in 1997 when a mother of two and her friend hosted a sale with 17 friends as consignors and had gross sales of $2,000. The sales caught on with families and in 2003, the friends formed Just Between Friends Franchise Systems, Inc., which has 128 franchises in 25 states. Shawna Wilfert and her father, Danny Hansen, own the Tucson franchise.

Arizona Daily Star reporter Angela Pittenger, our "Centsible Mom," shares tips, ideas and news about how Tucson consumers can find value and stretch their budgets. Send suggestions, ideas or questions to her at or 573-4137. Plus, join the community discussion with Pittenger on her blog, at, where she shares her progress in trying to save more money this year for her young family.