Most of the clothes my kids wear are used clothes.
Now, this is for a few reasons. The first being that it’s simply not cost effective for our single income family to purchase all of our children’s clothing new and full price, given how fast they grow. The more important reason though, is that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with used clothing. In fact, it’s a far more sustainable method of clothing your family. Did you know that it takes 2650 liters of water to produce one cotton t-shirt? I’ll share more on this in a future post!
But back to buying used clothing! Most of the items I’ve found in second hand stores are in excellent condition at a fraction of the cost of retail. Often they’re brand new with tags… I bet you can think of a few times your kids were gifted an outfit they didn’t end up wearing before it was too small. So it likely gets donated, tags and all. And that’s where you come along and snag it up. Things like rain and snow boots, snow suits, and rain pants often barely get worn in a season before they’re outgrown.
Here’s what I do: once every month or two, I’ll pack up the kids and we make our way to a second hand store. In addition to anything specific I’m looking for, I always check the racks of the next size up or two from what my kids are currently wearing. Then once I’m home I’ll wash it up and add it to the closet system.
The Closet System, how I keep it all organized:
I have two totes in the closet for my kids clothes: one is clothes to grow into, the other is clothes that are too small. When I find great deals on clothes that are a size or two too big, I’ll buy them and store them in the “too big” tote. During the next wardrobe overhaul, I’ll send the outgrown clothing to the “too small” tote and restock the dresser with the next size. When the tote of outgrown clothes is full, I’ll sort them to be sold or donated based on their condition.
This system works so great for us! When a growth spurt happens it’s super easy to just see what’s in the “too big” tote that will fit now.
Here are my favourite places to buy used kids clothes:
- Once Upon A Child This store is my go-to for when I need to up-size my kid’s wardrobes. They carry gently used clothing, footwear, equipment, toys and books, all at up to 70% off retail price. I’ve found tons here new with tags as well. They often have sale events where clearance items are $1, usually at the end of the season, so I stock up on the size my boys will need next year. The added bonus? You can sell it all back to them when you’re done with it.
- Thred UP I was actually just introduced to this site by a friend! I hadn’t even thought of finding an online thrift store. But the selection is amazing! You can filter your search by condition (signs of wear to new with tags), brand, size, color etc. They also have an email signup promo for 20% off your first order.
- Craigslist There’s always tons of bags of kids clothes to find here, usually for a flat rate for the whole bag. It’s a bit harder to ensure all the clothes are of decent quality but I’ve gotten entire garbage bags full of one size of clothing for $10 before, so it’s definitely worth the gamble.
- Facebook Buy/Sell/Swap group sites Basically the same idea as craigslist, and a lot of people post here instead! Search “kids stuff buy/sell/swap” with your town name and see what groups you can find.
- Local garage sales Get up early one Saturday morning and check out what the neighbors in your community have to sell!
Another tip to save you some cash:
Don’t bother buying holiday specific clothing. Yes I know the sweater with the Santa face is adorable, but you likely won’t put it back on them after Christmas. The same for Valentines Day, St Patricks… the list goes on. Just save your money!