One of my very first cloth diaper purchases came from a group buy site (BabySteals.com) while I was pregnant. The deal was on GroVia diapers, and before going through with my purchase I read up a bit on the brand to make sure I was, in fact, getting a good price. GroVia shells remain one of my favourite cloth diaper covers, and in the case of this brand, I did save a bit of money by taking advantage of the limited-time/quantity group buy promo.
Group buy sites like Zulily and BabySteals really prey on our weaknesses: a good deal matched with a sense of urgency. If we don’t buy it right away, we’ll miss out on a great price and the item might sell out! There are most definitely deals to be had on these pages, though I have unsubscribed from their mailing lists because a bargain is only a truly a bargain if it’s on something you need (and can afford). This post is not about avoiding group buy promotions for cloth diapers.
This post is also not about dissing so-called “China Cheapies” or even “rebranded” cloth diapers. This post is about making sure none of you get screwed by an inflated “regular” price on a brand of diaper no one has heard of reduced to a “sale” price that is still higher than what you would pay from a regular retailer.
I recently saw a post on my local cloth diapering Facebook group asking about a brand called “Awesome Blossom & Little Monster” diapers listed on Zulily. This screen capture is from December 19th, 2013 on Zulily.com:
The prints are adorable and when you look at the regular retail price listed, it seems like a very, very good deal:
The regular retail price of $26.22 slashed down to $12.47?! That’s more than 50% off!
Except that if you check the company’s website, this diaper sells for $19.99. I know the Canadian dollar is lagging… but not that much!
Boxing Day and Black Friday sales will get you major (top quality) brands such as BumGenius and TotsBots for less than $19.99, so I feel like this China-made pocket diaper is awfully expensive. It’s also kinda sketchy that on the Awesome Blossom/Little Monsters website, you see two very different models (check out the wing snaps) in the set of pictures for the same diaper… Notice the one on the left looks exactly like an Alva.
I think the regular price listed for the wet bag is what I find the most offensive: nearly $30! My Mom sews custom wet bags and charges under $20 (including shipping) for this size!
Here’s another Zulily “deal,” this time from MG Baby Diapers: (Never heard of them? Me neither!)
You can purchase cheap cloth diapers and accessories manufactured in China for $5 each if ordering directly from Alva (shipping from China) and about $8 each from Kawaii (shipping from Richmond, BC). You can also deal with WAHM retailers like Hunny Bunny Fluff ‘n’ Stuff and Hip Huggers Cloth Diapers who sell imported diapers at prices still lower than the Zulily “sale” price (and with exceptional customer service).
WAHM retailers like Joanna at HB and Angela at HH obviously charge more than if you are buying straight from the manufacturer, that’s how retail sales works. But drastically inflating the regular price of a diaper on Zulily to make the “sale” price seem more attractive seems very dishonest to me.
If you want to save on tried and tested brands, I recommend watching swap pages and Kijiji, and “liking” your favourite online retailers to keep on top of sales. Most major brands (BumGenius, TotsBots, AppleCheeks, etc.) only ever get 20% off unless it’s a store-closing sale or seconds sale. For so-called “China Cheapies,” you should be paying around $10 regular price if purchasing from a reseller (the Mama deserves to make a profit, after all) or less than $5 directly from the manufacturer. (Alva even has a $1 diaper promotion from time to time.)
How to tell if you’re getting a good deal on a group buy site:
- Google the brand and check out its official site (if it has one) to see the suggested retail price;
- Ask about the brand in your favourite forum/Facebook group;
- Compare the price to established brands with proven track records such as BumGenius or TotsBots (around $25 CDN);
- Factor in any shipping costs as many retailers offer free shipping for larger orders while many group buy sites do not.