Back in August I committed to doing back to school clothes shopping at a consignment store or Goodwill. You can see above what I picked up for $47.50 on two trips to a local consignment store. The child already had enough jeans, t-shirts, socks, and underwear, plus a pair of tennis shoes, a light jacket, a couple of hats, and mittens that fit. Aside from snow pants and winter pajamas, I may be done shopping for him until the weather warms (May) or he grows significantly.
If you don’t live near a good consignment store or if you are comfortable shopping online, check out thredUP, which buys and sells kids, juniors, and women’s consignment quality clothing. You can search with all the filters you’d expect on a good clothing site, like category, size, price, and color, and you can zoom in on thumbnails. I haven’t tried it yet, but a friend of mine vouches for it.
My tips for consignment shopping:
- know what you’re looking for, so you can focus your search and avoid coming home with something you already have or otherwise don’t need
- call ahead to see if what you’re looking for is in stock, especially if it’s a seasonal item; if you find a consignment store you like, consider joining their email list so you get notices about buys and stock changeovers
- most of the shopping tips I found recommend buying ahead for children in order to take advantage of good deals; I disagree—I only buy what my son can wear in the next few months because I can’t predict his growth rate and I don’t want to store things that aren’t being used
Shopping at Salvation Army/Goodwill/DAV/St. Vincent de Paul can require additional techniques. A Goodwill clerk broke it down for me: there are senior days and tag days when shoppers can get serious discounts. People who know the system show up early on the most advantageous days and buy up the best stuff. This is probably not a system that will work for me.