I’m a die-hard thrifter: my first stop for any item I need for Cub (or myself) is a second-hand shop. Even better than finding what I want second-hand is finding what I want without having to spend any money. I’ve come to treat Cub’s clothing and toys as a type of currency. How can I use what he no longer needs to get him what he does need now? I’ve come up with four ways to save money and seriously reduce our environmental paw print when it comes to dressing my son.
1) Thrift shops (Value Village)
I shop at Value Village every month, and I highly recommend joining their Super Savers Club. This loyalty card program gets you 50% off one Sunday per month, a discount on your birthday and other “surprise” discounts announced by email every so often. Most children’s clothing items are under $5 at VV, so when they’re 50% off, the prices really can’t be beat. So how do I trade what I already have for “new to us” stuff at VV? I wait for my location to hold a promo offering a coupon for donated items. The location nearest me, on Pie-IX & Ontario in Montreal often offers a 25%-30% off coupon whenever you drop of a donation. This means I can bundle up the stuff Cub no longer needs (or other household items, for that matter) and use them to get a discount on “new” stuff. During their stamp card promotions, you can also get stamps towards a 30% off discount for bags of items donated.
2) Online second-hand shops (Flipsize.ca)
I love Flipsize and am working on a post all about my great experiences with this Surrey-based online thrift shop. If you don’t have a consignment/thrift shop local to you, you can still trade in your children’s old clothing for Flipsize inventory, cash or even gift certificates. You simply request a bag, fill it up, send it back, and away you go! [Update: I am now a Flipsize Affiliate, so if you’re looking to shop, use my links!]
3) Consignment shops (Once Upon a Child)
I recently brought in a small bag of items Cub no longer needed and walked out with a toonie plus a bunch of “new to us” clothing from the Langley franchise of Once Upon a Child. (Detailed post is in the works!) I love that at Once Upon a Child they give cash and trades up front. Smaller consignment stores will take your items and only pay out in cash or credit once things have sold. Once Upon a Child is a chain of thrift shops that will give you the cash or the trades right away for the toys and clothing you bring in. Unfortunately there are no locations in Quebec, but I have a Pinterest board for other consignment stores in the Montreal area!
4) Community Clothing Swaps (Troc n’ Roll in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve)
I’ve saved the best for last. I recently discovered the concept of clothing swaps thanks to some wonderful community organizations in Montreal. They all work a bit differently, but the formula I’ve most appreciated involves dropping off your swap-able items in advance of the swap date. The organizers go through all swap items and attribute “tickets” to each family in exchange for the items they have brought. The most recent swap I attended gave 1 ticket for most clothing items and anywhere up to 4 tickets for larger items such as strollers. On the swap day, you get to go “shopping” with all of your tickets. No cash has to change hands. This is by far my favourite way to turn Cub’s old clothing and toys into cash. I now look at the things he outgrows or the toys he no longer loves as a kind of currency, putting them aside for the next swap! If your community doesn’t have a swap program, start one yourself! I’ve also attended a swap for Moms, and scored some great new items for my own wardrobe thanks to La Tasse Gamine in Montreal.
When you trade your children’s clothing and toys for “new to you” items, you’re saving a lot of money but you’re also reducing your consumption, which reduces your environmental impact. Participating in swaps is a great community-building activity, and if you attend one swap per season you may get away with spending almost nothing on “new” items for your kids. As children get older, they will gain an appreciation for the value of their possessions and be able to choose what toys or clothing items they no longer need and would like to swap. Local thrift shops and consignment stores are reinvesting money in your own community and providing affordable goods to you and your neighbours. Online second-hand shops are the next-best option and help families across Canada!
I would love to hear about your most recent thrifting or swapping finds in the comments!