Spring is finally here! Delighted to weed out the turtlenecks and sweaters, I’ve been combing thru my kids’ wardrobes to pull out their short-sleeves — only to realize that they have outgrown almost all of last year’s clothing.
Growth is a good thing, of course. But to buy an entirely new wardrobe can be costly — especially when you are buying for more than one child.
When I “inventoried” my daughter’s closet a few weeks ago, for example, I realized that she basically needs everything new for summer – from PJs to play clothes to Shabbat dresses.
Rather than head online, though, which frankly is my first inclination, I decided to grab my keys and head over to Savers, one of my favorite second-hand stores in town. It tends to have “higher end” items – and time and again, I find pieces that are in brand-new condition.
I picked up everything pictured above for just under $18.
While there were some great bargains to be found that day, there were many more that I passed over – since I didn’t think the savings were “worth it”.
If you’re interested in saving money by shopping for your children’s clothing (or your own) at second-hand shops, I wanted to share a few tips.
#1. Shop against season.
Second-hand and consignment stores are dependent on donations, which means most of their inventory runs on the opposite season.
When do we clear out our out-grown winter clothes? In the spring.
Which means, in the spring, you can expect to find an abundance of deals on next winter’s clothing. But if you’re looking for spring clothing, you may not find as much.
#2. Shop one size up for children.
Even if you are shopping for the current season, I suggest shopping one size above your child’s current size.
We all know that kids’ clothing shrinks the moment you put it in the dryer. The items at the second-hand store have been in the dryer dozens of times.
The size 4 that would normally fit my daughter looked like it was a smidge too small at Savers. I shopped the size 5s – especially since many of these items will hopefully still work for her in the fall.
And in fact, I picked up one dress in a size 6, which won’t fit her for at least a year. It was a pristine condition Lands’ End play dress, which are my absolute favorite. The dress was priced at $3.99 and I had a 20% off coupon (see #4). At $3.20, I’m happy to store the dress.
#3. Shop the “value” brands.
One thing I have noticed about second-hand stores, especially in the clothing section, is that they tend to price by item “type” rather than brand name.
This means that all t-shirts were $1.99. All dresses $5.99.
It didn’t matter if the dress was Lands’ End or Circo-brand (which by the way, apropos to #2, runs small anyway – so shop up two sizes).
I was able to score Gymboree dresses for $5.99 each — and the Lands’ End dress was mysteriously marked down to $3.99.
$5.99 for a Circo-brand dress, on the other hand, is a “pass”, since I could do at least that well when they hit 50% or 70% off at Target.
Get the best bargains by shopping the value brands.
#4. Shop on Bonus Savings days.
Most second-hand stores run sales or offer coupons on their already low-priced inventory. If you can save an additional 25% by shopping on Tuesday, shop on Tuesday.
Find out if your favorite store has a loyalty program. Mine gives you a stamp for every $5 you spend — spend $50 and get a coupon good for 30% off your next purchase.
And they give you a 20% off coupon when you make donations to their collection center — which I did before shopping. I love saving money for something I was going to do anyway.
Do you like to shop for clothing at second-hand stores? How do you get the best deals for your kids — or yourself?