why we don't typically buy used kids' clothing anymore.

Now, don't get me wrong.  There are so many things about used kids' clothes that I adore.  First and foremost, the price.  Obviously.  But beyond that, there's great stuff out there that has a lot of life left in it, but just needs to be passed along to a new home.  We love accepting hand-me-downs from friends and family (many of whom dress their kids way better than we do, so our kids actually look trendier in their hand-me-downs than in their new clothes).  We also love passing along what we have on hand that is in good shape, but not a great fit for our family for whatever reason.  (Atticus WON'T wear skinny jeans, which I learned the hard way after buying him like six pairs in one size.  So... down the road they went.)

We used to rely exclusively on used kids' clothes.  For the first few years of child-rearing, I would make out the year's list of clothing needs, budget about $75 per oldest kid of each gender, and garage sale throughout the summer for all of it.  It's a beautiful thing, being able to get the entire year's wardrobe for all the kids covered for less than 200 bucks.  It's a beautiful thing to pay a quarter for a shirt from the Gap that still looks brand-new.

But the more kids we had, the more overwhelming garage sale-ing became - driving around for an entire morning, in and out of car seats, trying to keep tabs on everyone while simultaneously trying to find what I was looking for... it was totally exhausting.  Then I'd get home and realize that, because I'd been distracted, half the stuff I'd purchased had stains or holes or something.  It was super demoralizing after all that time and effort.

Another thing I was finding as we had more kids was that garage sale clothes just weren't holding up through all of them.  Clothing that was already 3-5 years old, and had been previously worn by at least a kid or two, doesn't last long being then passed down the line in our family.  (I just switched out sizes for Rocco a couple of weeks ago, and came across garage-saled items that I had purchased for Atticus that are easily 12 or 13 years old at this point, and have been passed through four or five boys!)

And last, spending one afternoon a week looking up garage sales and trying to plan an efficient trip with a high yield, and then spending the next morning driving around to all the good sales, was such a time-suck.  Everything costs something, often either money or time, and as the number of V.V. kids grew, I had less and less time to spare.

What about thrift and consignment stores, you ask?  I tried these sources, but often the quality of stuff at these places is comparable to many garage sales, but the prices are higher.  And honestly, I get wayyy overstimulated in stores like this.  The sheer amount of random, individual pieces all nestled together in a sort of organized, hanging pile, triggers some kind of Bells palsy episode in myself.  Not sure why garage sales didn't do that to me, but stores set up this way give me serious anxiety.  So I actively avoid them.

So a few years ago, we just decided we were going to buy new, for a few reasons:

1. We knew everything was going to end up being passed through a bunch of kids of our own, so it would end up holding up better through that process and not needing to be replaced as frequently down the line.

2.  If we ended up somehow overpurchasing, or something didn't fit right or had some kind of defect, we could return it for a refund.  And if an item ended up being something that didn't work overall with our family, we could consign it much more easily, or pass it on to friends without feeling like we were giving them stuff that was already totally trashed.

3.  This is really dumb, but everything color-coordinates when you buy it at the same time.  Stores tend to put out clothing that all looks really good together in the store - all the colors and patterns work well together.  It's a sales tactic, and it works.  And it all still looks that good once you get everything home.  If I buy Atticus four button-up shirts and three layering sweaters for church, they will all work together, and I can mix them up in endless outfits.  Plus, whatever I put Penelope in for church will likely look good with Atticus' outfit, without being matchy-matchy, since it was also purchased at the same time and at the same store.  It's a small thing, but I really, really like this.

4.  We could easily purchase everything we'd need for the year, basically in one day.  Yeah, seriously.  One day.  Compared to the time I'd been spending before, this has been a total dream.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you more about what time of year we typically go in order to minimize how much we're spending, and I'll share with you my 'master list' for each kid that helps me ensure we're covered for the whole year.


todd said...

proactive purchasing (buying summer clothes on sale in the Fall one year in advance) saves money over reactive purchasing (oh crap, it's summer and we don't have any shorts and buying them in season)

Lissa said...

And maybe at some point fill us in on what it looks like putting away all the clothes when you do buy clothes that they are currently not in and growing out of. I have massive piles throughout our home of clothing that fit these categories plus my mom loves clothing shopping for the children and it can be extremely overwhelming! Plus I'm not usually caught up on normal laundry to begin with.