Monday, July 26, 2010

Too cool for school

Back to school sales are popping up galore this week!  When I was a kid I loved it when my mom would declare that we were going shopping for school clothes, it meant we got to go to the mall that is 2 hours away (remember, we live in "fly over" country) and make the day of it.  My girls will probably need therapy one day to reconcile the fact that unlike millions of other kids they don't get to experience this every August. 
One of the reasons goes back to my childhood memories of these trips:  After loading 3 kids into our spaceship like Chevy Lumina van, driving 2 hours, then shopping for hours to find clothes that fit (one of my bros is super tall and skinny which caused many pant shopping issues) my mom was completely frazzled.  By the end of the day it seemed that price became less of an issue so my mom always seemed to spend more than she intended.

The other reason I am robbing my children of this yearly rite of passage is simple: it doesn't fit in our budget. Don't worry though, my girls aren't wearing outdated,wrong sized hand-me-downs, actually we get tons of compliments on their outfits.  I'm going to let you in on a little secret, do you promise you won't tell?  Ok, here goes : My kids wear used clothes, wait, pre-owed clothes,  that sounds better.  Yes, my kids wear pre-owned clothes! I'll let you in on another secret, we save lots of moolah wearing pre-owned clothes! 

Whew! Glad that is off my chest!  If you know me it's not really a big secret though, I can't keep a good deal to myself so I share my frugal ways with anyone that will listen.  I have 3 sources I typically use to score cheap threads,, 2. Goodwill or thrift stores and 3. Good, old-fashioned yard sales. 

Ebay is a gold mine for quality, name brand, pre-owned kids clothes.  The younger the kid the better the deals! Much like my Pottery Barn decor style and Wal-Mart budget, I yearn for my kids closet to be filled with cute pieces from Gap, Gymboree, Ralph Lauren, 77 Kids...ect.  My budget, however, just doesn't stretch that far. Ebay is a different story though!  I often find a lot of clothes with these name brands for a fraction of the new stuff.  But, with anything, you make mistakes at first and I made more than a few.  In order help you get ahead of the curve here are my Ebay buying tips:

1. Narrow your search by size, then brand if it matters to you.  If you are looking to score a bunch of items look in "lots" or "outfits & sets".  If you are looking for a specific item (dresses, sweaters, outerwear) scope out those sections.  I have great luck finding large lots of clothes (50 - 75 pieces) for around $175 - $200, between $3-$4 an item, whereas one pair of jeans at any of the previously mentioned stores will set you back $20-$30 bucks.
This Ebay outfit was worn by my oldest on her first day of school

2. If you find an item you like check out the sellers feedback first and comments. This is found in the upper right part of the screen under "Seller Info". I typically like to stay with more established sellers but will purchase from a new seller if it is an inexpensive item.  If a seller has less than 95% feedback I would be hesitant to do business with them.
Here is my youngest in an Ebay outfit at Christmas
3.  Make sure you take a look at the shipping costs. A $5 sweater with $10 shipping isn't a great deal.  Some sellers like to tack on extra shipping costs to increase their revenue.
Here are my girls at a family reunion in some deals I grabbed on Ebay from Gymboree and Gap

4. Don't get caught up in the bid process! Go in with a set price for that item and don't get in a bidding war then forget all about your price. It is easy to fall victim, so before I log on I make a list of what I am looking for and what my max is for each item.

My oldest getting ready to head off to school, I got this 5 piece Gymboree outfit (tights not shown) for $12
 5. Don't rush.  I typically look around for a few days before I make a decision just so I know how much typical items are going for.

Our girls at a TN resort in some Ebay duds, my youngest is in a Gap 3 piece set that I got with another outfit for $10! 8 pieces for $10!!! The older one is wearing part of a Gymboree lot that had 15 pieces for $45!

6. Shop Monday - Thursday.  Just like the mall, Ebay has less people browsing the items during the week so it is best to look for auctions ending those days.  Wednesday and Thursday are better than Monday and Tuesday because many people will look over the weekend and may place a bid on an item ending within a day or two.  If you decide to start selling your kiddo's clothes on Ebay you want to do the opposite and have auctions that end on Sunday afternoon - night.
Here is my baby Halloween of 2008 in her costume from Ebay that I sold for more than I paid for it last year. Have you ever seen a cuter lion!

Now, I know some of you are saying, that's great but I don't have hours to spend on the internet looking for clothes.  But, think of how much time you spend shopping with your munchkins in tow looking for clothes, even if you don't drive 2 hours.

As far as Goodwill and yard sales, I always check the item to ensure it is in good quality without any rips, tears or stains and that it is a good price.

After 7 years of ebaying to fill my kiddo's (and mine and my hubby's) wardrobes I am a pro so feel free to hit me with your questions. Happy bidding!

1 comment:

  1. Great post! And I will attest to your girls super cute outfits !