Back in 1979, Redmond neighbors Susan Swanson and Jeanne Bolton launched a children’s used clothing store called Tree House in one of Redmond’s original downtown strip malls, where the British Pantry now stands.
“Our kids were in first grade, women were just re-entering the workforce. We started small and were booming within a year,” Swanson said.
This was long before Redmond Town Center or Target were around, they pointed out. Shopping in Redmond was scarce. And young kids outgrow clothes very quickly.
Tree House’s earliest inventory came from snatching up finds at garage sales, which the clever moms meticulously laundered and pressed.
“We made everything so crisp and nice, people didn’t realize it wasn’t new,” said Bolton. “People would ask, ‘Do you have this in a bigger size?’.”
Today, 30 years later, the Tree House Consignment Shop operates in a busy, 3,000-square- foot building at 15742 Redmond Way. Some of the merchandise is new, but consignment is their main business, Swanson and Bolton said.
The key to their success is stocking lots of specialty items that you can’t find at places like Target — things like First Communion dresses, little boys’ tuxedos and little girls’ bridesmaid dress, dance wear, rain clothes and ski gear.
Tree House is also the main Girl Scout USA clothing and accessories supplier for this area.
“Whether the economy is good or bad, business is about the same,” Swanson noted.
There have always been, and will always be, parents and grandparents who love a bargain. Most pieces of clothing here sell for one-quarter to one-third of their original cost.
Items that don’t sell within 60 days are marked an additional half-off the consignment price or donated to a clothing bank.
Tree House also carries some used toys and baby furniture — not more than three years old because of safety standards.
Parents looking to unload kids’ clothes or accessories they no longer need can bring in a maximum of 10 items per week for consignment. Only current and seasonal styles are accepted and all items must be clean and in good repair.
Bolton and Swanson are currently seeking short-sleeved shirts and tops, spring dresses with sleeves, Easter outfits and lightweight jackets, in children’s sizes 0-14.
For more information, call (425) 885-1145.