This topic was inspired by one of my confessions on RVANews’ “Parenting Confessions” post: I have wardrobes for my toddler in the next three sizes. (He’s asleep right now, otherwise I’d snap a pic of some the Rubbermaid bins in his closet.)
Bargain buying ahead is really two challenges: getting great deals on clothes, and then managing inventory efficiently. So I’ll cover the first half right now, and the second… soon 🙂
The myriad methods of getting cheap clothes really merits many posts, so I’ll just do a quick overview, starting with the cheapest. (Some of them aren’t buying ahead-specific, but involve shopping limited inventory. If I’m shopping for several sizes at once, I can take advantage of more bargains)
Hand-me-downs – FREE. Works great if you know people who have older kids of the same sex, and who just want to get rid of clothes.
Freecycle/Freepeats – FREE. Glorified hand-me-downs. You might just find a great grab bag! Here’s the place to sign up for Richmond’s Freecycle email list. (You have to post an offer before you can claim something offered.) Freepeats specifically focuses on free maternity/kid stuff. We don’t actually have a Freepeats group here yet – go here to tell Angie you want one started in Richmond!
Yard Sales – Can be so hit-or-miss. My best bet is to hit neighborhood sales in areas with lots of children
Craigslist – Like Freecycle, minus the free
Thrift and Consignment Stores – List of local thrift stores at the Thrift Shopper. End-of-season clearance sales at Once Upon A Child and Kid To Kid can yield bargains; get on the email lists to find out when they happen. I got some good GAP, Ralph Lauren, Talbot’s, etc stuff at Once Upon A Child’s $1 sale this month.
Kid’s Consignment Sales – Look for my updated spring sale post soon (Here is last year’s). Volunteer to shop early, or hit the 50% off clearance that many have in the final hours
Retail Clearance – A lot of Henry’s future wardrobe items are actually new, because selection of 3T and up boys clothes can be sparse second-hand. I love Old Navy, Target, Children’s Place, and even Gymboree for end-of-season bargains.
Old Navy – Combine OldNavyWeekly coupons with “extra 50% off clearance” promotions
Target – Wait til 75% off markdowns. Works especially well for kids shoes!
Children’s Place – Wait til Monster Sale is additional 50% off marked-down prices. Also, sign up for birthday club to get coupons in kids birthday months, and ask about joining the Place Perks rewards program to get $10 in savings for every $75 spent.
Gymboree – Requires periodic browsing of the sales racks. 20% off coupons show up in family magazines frequently, like Parents and Family Fun. There’s an entire discussion board GymboFriends where you can hear about some of the best upcoming sales.
Outlet Clearance – Prime Outlets Williamsburg has Carters, Osh Kosh, Gymboree, and Children’s Place, as well as a number of other stores with children’s departments. Sign up for the outlet emails to hear about sales, and also call individual stores to ask about getting on mailing lists.
Having all these clothes is a waste, though, if I don’t keep track of what I have and use it when it fits. So Part II will be my thoughts on and system for buying ahead.
How do you save money clothing your kids?