Friday, March 18, 2011

Alternatives to Consignment Sales

You've heard me going on and on about consignment sales for the past few weeks, and they are indeed one of the my favorite ways to get great deals on items for my kids.  However, what if you have no consignment sales in your area?  Or maybe you simply don't enjoy the crowds and busyness of these sales, or your husband works weekends and you can't attend.

Even if you can't or don't attend consignment sales but are still interested in finding quality used items for your children, there are plenty of other alternatives.  Here's a quick list of some ideas:

- Thrift stores - Your small town may not have seasonal consignment sales, but, chances are, it does have a thrift shop.  Merchandise at these store can very widely - since it's all donated, it can be lower quality.  The best strategy for thrift stores is to shop early and often!  You may go in ten times and find nothing, but that eleventh time you just might hit the jackpot.

- Consignment stores - These are going to be a big step up from thrift stores.  If you can find a kids' consignment store, you'll have access to plenty of gently-used merchandise.  Note that prices will probably be higher than at thrift shops or consignment sales, since there is a lot more overhead.  Your best bet for consignment stores is to watch for sales and coupons; they can also be a great source for highly specific items, like special occasion dresses.

 - Craigslist - This can be a great source for used items in your area, especially larger equipment, though it does take some work to be constantly checking for what you need.  The easiest way to shop for used clothes on Craigslist is to look for big lots, as you probably don't want to drive out to someone's house to purchase just one outfit..

 - Ebay - Ebay is great for finding specific items, since there is so much to choose from.  Plus, you can shop from your home and have your items delivered.  However, name brand clothes tend to be in pretty high demand, and I've seen them go for more than you could buy the item on sale.  Again, for the best prices look for lots of clothing, as opposed to individual items.  Also, buy mulitple items from the same seller to save on shipping.

- ThredUP - ThredUP is the newest alternative for finding gently used kids' clothes.  Basically, it's a online service that lets you swap boxes of clothes for points, so that you can then choose a box that meets your needs.  It costs $5 per box, plus $10 shipping, but you can earn credit towards future boxes by listing sizes that are in high demand.  This would be a great alternative if you have few used clothing sources in your area, or if you have trouble getting out to shop.

- Pooling resources - Getting together with friends and acquaintances can be a great way to save money in so many circumstances.  You could organize a clothing swap with friends or parents at your church or child's school.  Or what about organizing a carpool to a consignment sale several hours away and turn it into a fun day trip?  Heck, if you think there is a market for it, you could even organize your own consignment sale!

It's so easy to accumulate so many kids' items, and most parents eventually want to pass stuff on.  No matter where you live, I bet you can find a source for some good pre-loved items!

What are your favorite ways to find quality used items for your kids?

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