Moms and dads hoping to save money on used baby gear have long turned to kids thrift stores and baby consignment shops. Known for crammed racks and fill-a-bag offers, the thrift experience is all about the thrill of the search-and the find. The reality, however, is that the thrift experience can be hit or miss. But with a little planning and a bit of practice, you'll be scoring big in no time.
When shopping for used baby gear, plan ahead
Kids grow fast and clothing especially won't last long. When sleeves get short and ankles start showing, it's time to hit the racks. But first, take a moment to inventory dressers and closets before you leave the house. What items are needed? What do you foresee being needed down the line? Write it down! Your Thrift List is the key to successful shopping. If you're the forgetful type (no judgment, Mom Brain is a thing!) make a note of current and future clothing and shoe sizes. Shopping with a list will ensure you don't get sidetracked while browsing and forget the crucial pieces needed for your little one's wardrobe.
Try these veteran thrifter tips
Swimsuits in December? Why not? If the price is great and it's a piece they'll need, snag it now and stash it away until the time is right. Remember to edit your Thrift List so you don't make a double purchase down the road. Store your off-season items in a “someday soon” box that's both visible and easy to access. Consider using a whiteboard, photographs, or sticky notes on the outside of the box to ensure the contents are stashed but not forgotten.
Shop often, but don't overbuy
Consignment shop merchandise, especially in online thrift stores, moves quickly, so browse on the regular for fresh items. Leave room in your budget for a few hard-to-pass-up impulse purchases, but remember that overbuying quickly becomes overwhelming. This is where your Thrift List comes in handy! Stuffed drawers and closets are a source of frustration, so stick to your list to help curb excessive purchasing.
Check for quality
Thrift stores are notorious for selling clothing in less-than-perfect condition. Take time to thoroughly check your items for rips and stains before heading to checkout. When it comes to kiddo clothing, sleeve cuffs and necklines are common spots for staining. Rips are typically found at the knees and tush area of pants and pajamas. Check leg and sleeve seams for unraveled stitching or tearing. If you're not into DIY quality control, consider shopping at an online children's thrift store like Toycycle, where quality testing is rigorous and a satisfaction guarantee is part of your purchase.
Don't stop with clothes
Secondhand toys, used baby gear, and outdoor equipment like bikes and wagons are more available than ever before. The thrifting rules remain the same: plan ahead, buy what you need, and ensure quality. Check items for infants and toddlers for cleanliness and safety. Doing a quick online search for product recalls is a smart idea, especially for strollers, bassinets, and other sleep-related items. Again, if you're looking to outsource this part of the thrifting experience, Toycycle carries a curated offering of gently-used toys and used baby gear; all items are fully-inspected and we offer a generous return policy.
Thrifting is an adventure and sustainability is trending, especially when it comes to shopping for babies and kids. Saving cash on items that are often quickly outgrown is not just a win for your wallet, but a win for the planet as well.