Monday, September 19, 2011

Live Simply: Buy Used

This weekend I nursed up the baby, handed him to his Daddy and rushed off with my Mom for a quick shopping trip.  Jonah had completely skipped a size over the summer and needed pants for Fall. We headed to one of our favorite places in the world to shop.  A second hand store.

When I was growing up, my Mom dressed us almost completely on things she found here.  Buying used does not mean wearing worn out clothing.  Buying used, for us, means buying high quality, excellent condition clothing at a fraction of the price.  And, with a family of 7 (her case) or 5 (my case) children, spending a fraction is a very good thing.

We were gone for one hour.  She brought home about 6 shirts.  I bought 4 pair of jeans for kids, 2 pair khakis for kids, 1 dress for Fiona, 1 shirt for me and 1 dress for me.  All "good" name brands. Altogether, I spent $30.

Buying used can be very overwhelming if you are not careful.  Sometimes these stores are hard to navigate and searching through rack upon rack of clothes for something in the correct size and condition can be daunting.  Here are some tips that help me when shopping for second hand clothes.

1) Know what you are looking for.  Just like going to the grocery store with a list, shopping a second hand store with a list helps cut down on random impulse buying - and ensures that you keep on track.  I like to write down a list of clothing articles and the sizes I need.  I noticed this last time that the boys' jeans had tags telling their waist and inseam measurements, so having your kids' measurements on this list could also be helpful.

2) Have a designated time limit.  These stores can be a bit like a black hole - sometimes you can be there for hours just to come home empty handed to a less than pleased spouse.  Set a time limit and you will move quickly and make decisions.

3) Don't limit second hand buying to specialty shops.  Stores like Once Upon a Child or other resale shops can charge double what you could find the item for elsewhere.  I once went looking for jeans for my daughter at OUAC and the brand I was looking for cost almost as much as the jeans new.  The owners of these shops frequently buy merchandise from other second hand stores and then mark them up.  Cut out the middle man and save some money!  At OUAC, Children's Place jeans for my daughter were $8.  I bought them for $2 at my local second hand store.  Yes I had to dig for them, but I found 2 pair in excellent condition.

4) Don't over-buy.  Its not a good deal to buy 10 pair of jeans for $2 when you only needed 2 pair of jeans.  Don't let bargains turn your head.  Buy what you need and leave the rest.

Buying used clothing is just another way that my family lives simply and frugally.  Do you have any tips for successful second hand shopping?

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  1. I wish our little town had something like this. When we first moved here, there was a consignment store. I took all my children's gently used items there, and picked up new ones for them. but it closed and moved to a bigger town :(
    With 3 children to clothe and only 1 doesn't go to far sometimes.

    However, our town does have a "Give Away Day" twice a year: Spring and Fall. You put any items you no longer want at the end of the driveway, and people can just come and take them. We have gotten a sofa table, bed, desk, dresser.....all kinds of things. I just paint and buy some new knobs if necessary.

  2. This is great advice. I love our second hand shops. There are four in the area and when I'm on a hunt, I visit them in a certain order, from cheapest to most expensive. If I STILL can't find the item, I finally consider buying it new (depending on if we can wait or not).
    I am certainly grateful that my teenage kids are happy to buy things second hand. I think that making them buy some of their own clothing with a limited amount of money, has kept them from getting snooty about it! :)
    It can be a trap, and I find I am tempted to get greedy when I see things at a good price. One can't imagine that shopping second hand will keep one from becoming materialistic, or from shopping for 'therapy' reasons.

  3. Ashley - I do the same! Work for the least expensive to the most. Always look second hand first,you never know what you may find! I remember being a teen and wanting a very specific style/brand of jeans. I saved up and bought them myself, new. I think being raised that way also helped keep me frugal as an adult.

  4. Rory - love the idea of a Giveaway Day!

  5. One of my favorite things about second hand clothes is that I generally don't have to worry about clothes shrinking, which often happens when you wash a new item for the first time. I love when Goodwill stores have 50% off Saturdays. Depending on where you live, they do this either once a month or once during each of the 4 seasons. Those half price days are when we try to buy any clothes that are needed for our family of 7. I am very picky to buy only things that fit and look flattering.

  6. Looking over each item thoroughly in the store to make sure I haven't missed a small hole or stain that won't come out has helped me not buy useless things.

    Also being able to sew enough to do small alterations can be extremely helpful too, as you can always find the exact style or size you are looking for if you need something soon.

  7. I always buy my children's second hand clothes on ebay. It's a bit tedious but you can look for exactly what you want - designer, colour etc. I have found the best bargains for beautiful clothes!

  8. Sounds like a good trip! I recently went on a thrift store trip to stock up for our little ones (and me), and was able to bring home a cart full for $35 (some things to use now, and some to grow into).



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