It’s time again. The time of year children dread all summer long and the time that makes moms and dads everywhere clench their debit cards just a little tighter. Neon “sale” signs flash around every corner and the mall is as packed as a Justin Bieber concert. It’s back-to-school shopping time.
Outfitting your backpack-toting munchkins doesn’t have to be comparable to a trip to the dentist. Your bill, and sanity, can bare a much lighter load by taking a savvier approach this year. We’re talking about shopping, secondhand style.
“I have really expensive tastes and love fashion, but have a really small budget,” Misty Bedsole, a mother of two in Benton, says. “I love to dress my kids in boutique clothing or in certain brands that are maybe favorites of my husband and I, but I cannot, and actually do not like to pay large amounts of money on these items. I actually shop secondhand for myself too.”
Bedsole isn’t alone with her brand-name dreams. Popular kid brands including Gymboree, Gap, Mudpie and Ralph Lauren sell quickly for just a fraction of the cost. She says that while she doesn’t know exactly how much money she has saved on shopping secondhand for her young ones, she has snatched up several steals including a boutique outfit with her daughter’s initial already monogrammed on the front.
“It’s hard to say for sure because I’ve shopped this way for them for so long,” she says. “But I know that retail on Ralph Lauren boys’ Polos and girls’ dresses are $35-$60 usually and I’ve gotten shirts and dresses in perfect condition for as little as $10.”
And it isn’t just these savvy shopping moms that are snagging all the best deals. Kerri Sangalli, a Little Rock mom of two has become a pro at selling her children’s clothes. She is in her seventh year as a consignor with Duck Duck Goose Sales.
“On average, I typically generate $400-$800 per sale for what I consign,” she says. “I love it because it’s like I’m shopping for free. I say free because I typically will spend around the same amount that I make. After seven years of shopping Duck Duck Goose, it’s hard for me to even shop retail anymore.”
Sangalli says that her two young boys are just now at the age where their clothes get worn out, but their closets are still filled with gently worn or even new clothing with tags. While being able to make a little money to buy her boys’ clothing for next season is always a plus, Sangalli says that it isn’t always about what she receives when she consigns
“It just makes me feel good as a fellow mom to be able to help another mom out,” she says. “And in return she gets really cute clothes for her kids!”
For the record, secondhand shopping isn’t what it used to be. The internet is now filled with places to buy and sell children’s clothes. Ebay and Dirty Secrets Boutique are just two of the online treasures. But for moms who prefer to browse through clothing in person, there are two great options: the big sales and local resale boutiques. Here’s a rundown of what to expect and what to know from the pros.
The Big Sales
Moms who want a one-stop shopping experience for all things kid and baby will have the best luck at what secondhand shopping moms call “the big sales.” Sales like Duck Duck Goose and Rhea Lana’s offer large scale shopping twice a year at various locations throughout the state. Cindy Brantley, founder of Duck Duck Goose Sales, says retail just can’t compare to one of their consigning events.
“Moms love to shop at Duck Duck Goose because our selection is incredible,” she says. “You cannot go to a retail store and find more brands, styles and variety on a rack. You will rarely see the same item twice.”
Items range from baby gear, toys and bedding to clothing and shoes for baby through teenagers. All items are priced by the consignor and moms can pick up new and used clothing for next to nothing.
“Prices are incredible,” Brantley says. “Our price point starts at $2 and moves up. As a result of our amazing low prices, the bargains get even greater when shopping our Half Price Sale. Moms can literally get great children’s items that cost as little as $1.”
But the prices aren’t the only thing bringing moms back to the big sales. Both Duck Duck Goose and Rhea Lana’s offer their consignors 70% of the sale price, which is standard at most consignment stores.
For the mom looking for school uniforms, Brantley suggests shopping early to get the best items. The Back to School events will have uniforms in every size, including some with school logos.
“The best deals are in the eye of each shopper,” she says. “There is something for everyone.”
For the consigning newbies, Brantley says to be picky. Stained items will not sell. Also, remember to price it right and present it well. For those new to shopping a big sale, her advice is a bit out of the ordinary.
“Your best friend will be something with wheels,” Brantley says. “Bring something with wheels to carry your treasures in.”
Taking it Local
“If you haven’t shopped resale before, I would tell you to come in with an open mind,” says Ginger Bush, who owns Black Dog Boutique in Bryant with her husband, Mike Bush. “Children’s clothing has a very short life cycle usually because the child outgrows it so fast. Yet the name brands can be quite pricey. Resale is an avenue for parents to have some return on their clothing investment.”
For the moms who prefer to avoid the crowds that large sales can bring, consider taking a walk through some of your local resale/consignment shops. Many offer only children’s clothing, and only quality name brand clothing at that. Black Dog Boutique pays cash for clothing or offers store credit. Shops such as these tend to be a bit pickier on the clothing they choose since they are ultimately risking a bit more by buying outright.
“We are always looking for name brand items in excellent used condition,” Bush says. “It isn’t uncommon to find a boutique outfit that retails for $80 in our store for $19.99.”
A quick way to find quality used clothing boutiques is to ask around. Other moms are often the best source of information for deal seekers. Ask if the shop has a website or Facebook page where you can see the merchandise they offer. It might save you some time shopping around at secondhand stores that sell lower quality clothing.
“Don’t let resale phobia get in your way,” Bush says. “The first week we were open, two women were in our shop and one kept telling the other to just touch the clothes because her friend obviously had a resale phobia. The lady finally touched the merchandise and got past this issue to realize the great bargains to be had.”
For newbie moms looking to shop locally, take Bush’s advice to keep an open mind. Don’t assume that used means lesser. Leave your secondhand fears at home, and go out on a limb. The deals you can find might just turn you into a savvy secondhand shopper.
Shop Like a Secondhand Pro
Here is a sampling of the many places to buy and sell children’s clothing in central Arkansas.
Black Dog Boutique
3411 Main St., Ste. 3, Bryant
Caroline’s Children’s Consignment Boutique
1917 N. Grant St., Little Rock
Duck Duck Goose
Visit DuckDuckGooseSale.com for sale dates and locations
Visit RheaLana.com for sale dates and locations
Simon Says Wear It Again
920 Edison Ave., Ste. 5, Benton
10720 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock