Brooding On

How to Clothe 3 Kids on the Cheap

I have 3 kids -- Girl 1, Girl 2, and Boy.  You might think that Girl 1 can just pass her stuff down to Girl 2, so I'm only ever shopping for 2 kids.  Those who think that need to look again at how the two of them are built and reconsider.  Last year, I tried to put a pair of Girl 1's old jeans on Girl 2.  Sure, they were more than a little bit too long, but I'm resourceful enough to cut them off and re-hem.  The problem was that Girl 1 had worn holes in the knees (that's fashionable, right?), which hit Girl 2 about mid-shin.  They looked absolutely ridiculous.  So, while a few items can be passed down each year, we are still left with mounds of outgrown clothes and nearly bare closets as the new seasons roll around. 

Those who know me best know the following:
1.  I am an anti-hoarder.  In fact the show Hoarders is nearly enough to give me an anxiety attack.  I haven't always been this way.  I blame Hurricane Katrina, which taught me many things, one of which is that stuff is just stuff.  If I haven't got a good use for it, why would I keep it?  This is especially true if I can think of someone else who might be able to make use of it.
2.  I am cheap.  If it's not on sale, I'm usually not interested.  I make exceptions, of course.  But it is the exceptions that prove the rule.
3.  I have very few options when it comes to shopping for adorable kids' clothes.  We live 1.5 hours from a Children's Place, Old Navy, or GAP, for example, so the quick little jaunt out to grab a new outfit for a special occasion is usually not an option.
4.  I'm a planner.  I am borderline crazy when it comes to organization and planning. 

For all of the above reasons, I'm the perfect candidate for the Kids Consignment sale circuit.  If you haven't already discovered the beauty of these amazing sales, hear me out.  Based on conversations with countless others, I think the best sale close to me is the Popsicles Sale in Jonesboro.  This sale, held twice a year, provides me with the opportunity to sell my kids' outgrown things and score them entirely new wardrobes in the process.  I do all the sorting, washing, ironing, hanging, label creating, tagging, and hauling to Jonesboro.  In return, I sell my old, unwanted stuff, get 75% of the sale, and get an early shopping pass so that I can turn around and spend that money outfitting my crew for the upcoming season. 

I inventory my kids clothing needs before I go shop, so that I will stick with the plan and get just what's on the list (mostly).  Then, if the sale doesn't provide me with everything they need (usually, I still need shoes and pants for my hard to fit oldest), I can fill in the holes later.  Last season, I made enough money on the sale to cover everything I bought at the sale and a giant Old Navy order that filled in the rest of the wardrobe gaps.  Voila, 3 kids outfitted for the upcoming season, and it was all accomplished in the course of one (albeit intense) shopping trip and an online order. 

I know that some of these sales either don't have enough inventory to  justify the trip or are loaded with items that are stained or terribly dated.  I think that Popsicles is great because it is HUGE, well-run, and having a consignor pass allows me to shop early before it's all picked over. 

Just for further explanation, because I don't want you to miss how great this is. . . Take a look at this cute little tank top. 

Sure.  I could've bought it at Old Navy for probably $10, but instead, I bought it at the Popsicles Sale a few years back for $6.  Girl 1 wore it through 2 summers then handed it down to Girl 2 (it happens sometimes) who wore it a year.  Now, 3 years later, it's going back into the sale to be sold for $6 (again).  I'll make 75% of that sale ($4.50), which means that I'm out $1.50 for 3 years of use.  Are you seeing the beauty of this?

I'd love to hear from other thrify moms.  What do you do to save on cute wardrobe items for your kiddos?