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6 Ways to find great secondhand clothes for kids

Maria Mora is a freelance writer and single mom fueled by coffee, questionable time management skills, toaster oven waffles and the color orange. She lives in Florida with her two young sons. If you see her on Twitter, tell her to stop p...

Quality clothes on a budget

Your child seems to grow a size every season. How do you keep her clothing updated without spending a fortune?
Mom at thrift shop

Whether you buy exclusively secondhand or you mix and match, you can save big. It doesn’t take much effort to find great deals and adorable, modern fashions for less.

Learn how to find quality secondhand clothes for kids with these tips to help you get basics for less.

Church and community swaps

Churches and other community groups often hold seasonal clothing swaps and sales. You don’t need to belong to a local church to take advantage of community events, though it helps. Check local event directories and church websites to get the dates. Before the swap, wash and fold your clothes and keep them organized by category and size. Arrive early and know what you’re looking for.

Learn how to establish a no-spend month >>

Private Facebook groups and mailing lists

Mom Stacey Bonivtch estimates that up to 90 percent of her son’s wardrobe is secondhand. In addition to checking out local swaps, she trades and buys clothing via local Facebook groups. Stacey discovered local groups through word of mouth, Meetup groups and local mailing lists. "When I joined both [groups] a year or two ago they were just getting started but have grown tremendously since then," she says of the two groups she currently participates in.

Clothing exchange websites

Got something to sell?

You can head to your local thrift shop, hold a garage sale or try to sell your clothes online. When selling over the internet, follow these tips:

  • Photograph clothes on a clean surface with natural light.
  • Put together coordinated lots of clothing instead of selling one item a time.
  • Use your Instagram account and PayPal to sell your kids’ clothes.
  • Remember that popular brands in great condition sell the best.

If you’re looking for more structure and facilitation, check out kids’ consignment and swap websites. The thredUP, site — which formerly allowed parents to swap lots of clothing — now offers high quality consignment. FlipSize lets you turn in your kids’ clothing for credits that you can use to shop on the site. These sites are especially helpful if you’re looking for a specific brand or item of clothing.

Local consignment shops

The best part of finding a reliable local consignment shop is the ability to easily earn credit. Bring in gently-worn clothes, baby furniture and clean toys and you can earn credit to pick up the essentials you need. Mom Michelle Campbell found this helpful for finding specialty items. "We went up north for Thanksgiving so we needed some cold weather items like sweaters and a heavy coat for Abby but obviously we won't get much use out of them here," she says, "and she grows so quickly that I bought everything we needed from consignment shops for a quarter of the price."

Discover these baby items that pull double duty >>

Yard sales

Perhaps the most hit or miss way to find secondhand kids’ clothes, yard sales are still a viable option if you’re willing to do some legwork. Check Craigslist and your local paper for garage and yard sale listings. Big neighborhood sales are a good way to hit up many sellers in one morning. Know what you’re looking for and don’t be afraid to haggle gently, especially if you’re buying more than one item.

Make your own swap exchange

Create your own small swap exchange. "My boss, coworker, myself and my sister-in-law all trade clothes back and forth," says mom of two Natalie Ramirez. "We have all boys. Every couple months we switch clothes around." Check with moms at school, church and work. Stay organized with online tools like a shared calendar or email group.

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