I grew up in a two-income lower middle class family. I don’t remember going out to eat very often, and we never got brand new name brand clothes or shoes unless we earned the money and bought them ourselves. Almost every Saturday, my mom, my sister and I would look at the local newspaper scouring the Yard Sale Ads for the ones that advertised teen clothes. We would circle the ads, plan our route, and head out for a morning of shopping. It wasn’t until I was in high school and got a part-time job that I remember going to the mall (a 45 minute drive) and picking out brand new clothes.
Fast forward 15- 20 years when I became a mom of two quickly growing boys. We got a lot of clothes at baby showers and when our oldest was born, but babies grow so fast and outgrow each size in the first 18 months to 2 years so quickly. That’s when I revisited the idea of yard sales. Thankfully, babies and young children don’t care where their clothes come from or what they look like. At this stage, it’s all about what mom or dad wants so it’s the perfect time to take advantage of the savings. Why pay $15-$20 for an outfit when you can get it second hand at a yard sale for $5 or less? And, sometimes the clothes look brand new!
Here’s how to save on kids’ clothes and toys at yard sales:
- Decide what you are shopping for. What size clothes? What season? What toys? Does your kiddo have an upcoming birthday or Christmas? (Yes, I have given my kids multiple used items for their birthday and Christmas! Guess what? They don’t care! It’s new to them. And, there is no guilt when you pay a couple bucks for something that they only play with for 15 minutes.)
- Search the ads in your local paper (in print or online) or Gsalr.com (the internet’s largest garage sale, yard sale & estate sale listing service) for the items you need and plan your route so that you aren’t driving back and forth across town. I love to find neighborhood sales where you can park and walk to multiple houses. FYI – If sales are multiple days, I like to visit them on the first day of their sale when the selection is the greatest. Also keep in mind that a lot of sales are on Thursday or may start on Thursday. This is the case for my area.
- Set a budget. Yes, you can get a lot of stuff for pretty cheap, but it isn’t a real savings if you buy it and don’t need it or won’t use it. Have an idea of what you are willing to pay per piece of clothing. When my boys were younger, I would only pay $1 or less per item. As they have gotten older, I’m willing to pay a little bit more as bigger sizes and jeans without holes are harder to come by.
- Have cash. Stop by your local bank and get small bills ($1 and $5) and coins. Most yard sales will have cash, but if everyone comes with a $20 bill for a $0.50 item, they will quickly run out of singles and change. The people having the sale will appreciate it.
- Go shopping!
Let me give you two more secrets if you find a yard sale that has a lot of kids’ clothes that you like in the perfect sizes.
- If you are going to purchase a large quantity of items, ask for a discount. Instead of pricing every single item out, maybe she will give you an entire bag for $10, $15 or $20.
- See if you can make a connection with the mom. Maybe you can buy their clothes in lots as soon as her child outgrows them instead of individual pieces! This will not only save you money, but it will also save you time and energy if you know you have a source for the next size up. This is also nice for the person selling the clothes as they know they have a buyer.
You may also want to check out ThredUp and Schoola – two online sources for used children’s clothes. Right now, you can get $10 FREE Credit when you sign up at ThredUp through this link. And, get save 50% on your next Schoola purchase when you enter promo code SPRINGBRK at checkout plus $20 in FREE Credit when you sign up through this link.