The crowd of shoppers and the abundance of children's toys and clothes at the Lil' Lambs Closet children's consignment sale Friday was not surprising to organizer Lisa Barber.
"In our economy, it is a blessing for families to be able to clothe their children in things that are really nice at such bargain prices," said Barber, who helped start the sale 16 years ago. "It's a win-win situation,"
Early Friday, it was hard to predict whether business would top the records set last March at the wildly popular sale, which routinely books vendor spaces via the Internet in a matter of minutes. But Barber felt the tight economy this year was likely to drive up sales even more.
"Clothes, toys, strollers, beds, winter coats, you name it."
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Jenny Tyler of Versailles was shopping with her 16-month-old daughter Loralei, who was so excited she couldn't stop pushing her stroller back and forth as she sat in her mother's lap.
"She's a true girl, and she loves getting stuff. We've found a lot of things for her for Christmas, and when she gets bigger."
"There are even more people here now than there were this spring. I think people are really looking for bargains now with the economy being tight," she said.
Virginia Fairchild, advertising chair for the sale, said that because of the weak economy, sellers this year might be more willing to lower their prices.
"This year people are more motivated to sell, so some of them are pricing items lower," she said. "This means consumers are getting a better deal, because whatever your level of income is, everyone is very much aware of what they are spending right now."
Fairchild said people shopping at the sale have also changed their outlook slightly.
"People who might have come to look around and buy some play clothes are realizing that they can buy church clothes for their children here too," said Fairchild.
The large white church was filled with people who were busy looking for bargains with their children. Toddlers climbed around row after row of clothes racks in a large gymnasium, or examined bins of shoes.
Fairchild pointed out a box filled with toys and board games going cheap.
"This is a place to stretch your dollars," Fairchild said.
Jennifer Taylor, another shopper, agreed. "This is a great place to get a bargain," she said. "I have four kids and I can find something for everyone."
"The sale is good for people who want to dress their kids nicely for much less than retail price," said Ashley Siskar, who was in the checkout line with 5-year-old Sam and 3-month-old Liam, carrying clothes for both.
Everyone who sells items at the sale receives 70 percent of their profits. The remaining 30 percent is divided evenly between Centenary United Methodist Church, where the sale is held, and Christian child aid organizations, including the AA Pregnancy Help Center, Step by Step and the Appalachian Mission of Hope all in Kentucky. Organizations benefiting outside the state includes the Good Samaritan School in Delhi and the Good Shepherd Orphanage in the village of Nyahururu, Kenya.
The first sale, in 1993, garnered a total profit of $7,865. The profit from the sale last March was $167,209, of which $50,000 was split by the church and other charities.
Wade Van Meter, who was pushing his children Cate, 1, and Miller, 3, in a stroller, agreed the sale was beneficial to all.
"It's good for the church, and it's good for everybody," he said.
The sale's hours today are 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.