Thrifting for Parents 101: Where and How to Find Good Deals | Kids VT | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Thrifting for Parents 101: Where and How to Find Good Deals 

Published August 24, 2021 at 4:00 a.m. | Updated September 28, 2021 at 11:04 a.m.

click to enlarge Maria Munroe and her 9-month-old daughter, Malia, shopping at Boho Baby - CAT CUTILLO
  • Cat Cutillo
  • Maria Munroe and her 9-month-old daughter, Malia, shopping at Boho Baby

Before my baby was born, I had countless hours to spare in thrift stores, and that time was often the key to my success. My first piece of advice for new thrifters used to be to go through and touch everything. But my first trip back to a thrift store after my girl was born made it pretty clear that I wouldn't have the time to do that for a while, so I had to rethink my approach.

I still like to prioritize shopping secondhand. I love the unique finds, the prices and the fact that I'm reducing our collective waste. But I've adapted to save time — and save my daughter from a meltdown in the middle of a Goodwill. If you're a new parent or one who's looking to make the transition from buying new to buying used, here are a few options to try.

Shop Online

If you're already shopping online, switching to secondhand is a pretty easy transition. I typically recommend ThredUp, a large online thrift store, because it has a website similar to large retail stores, meaning the shopping experience is essentially the same. Whenever possible, I also like to find secondhand options from fellow Vermonters. Being able to pick up locally makes buying larger items a lot easier. While Facebook Marketplace is a great option, I find I have a bit more success — and less competition — in dedicated Facebook groups. My favorite discovery so far is KiD sWaP VeRmOnT, which is a group for parents to buy, sell or trade kids' items.

Shop at Consignment Stores

If online isn't your thing, but you're new to the world of secondhand shopping, a giant Goodwill or cluttered charity shop can be a bit overwhelming. Luckily, there is a middle ground: consignment stores. These stores often curate their merchandise to fit a certain style or era. They also do the work of filtering out quality pieces for you. And we are lucky to live in a state full of great consignment options, including Boho Baby, Style Encore and Once Upon a Child in Williston; Karen's Closet in Essex Junction; and Junebug in Middlebury. Play It Again Sports in South Burlington is a great first stop for kids' sporting equipment.

Make a thrift list

I like to keep a couple of running lists of things I want to thrift. I have a list for my wardrobe, one for my daughter and one for our future home, and I add to them as I think of things. Having a list makes my trips a lot more efficient. If I know I'm just looking for a cream-colored turtleneck, for example, I can bypass any other colors or necklines quickly. A rack with hundreds of options suddenly has just three or four. Having a list has also made me a more intentional shopper. I no longer bring home things I won't use or wear simply because I thought they were cute in the store.

If you're making a back-to-school list, don't forget to include things like backpacks, composition books and binders, which you can find in larger thrift stores like Goodwill. I usually bypass those sections in thrift stores myself, but they're often full of completely usable stuff. I remember being a kid and wanting brand-new school supplies every year, but I think "new to me" would have worked just fine!

Keep the kiddos entertained

click to enlarge Maria Munroe and her 9-month-old daughter, Malia, shopping at Boho Baby - CAT CUTILLO
  • Cat Cutillo
  • Maria Munroe and her 9-month-old daughter, Malia, shopping at Boho Baby

When I bring my 9-month-old along with me to thrift stores, I try to make her feel like she's involved in the process. This is in part out of my own selfish desire to raise a little thrifter, but it also keeps her engaged. We "discuss" what we're looking at, and sometimes I'll push the cart up close to the racks to let her "shop" on her own. I make sure she's well-fed before we head out the door to buy myself time before her next feeding, and I bring some snacks just in case. Another thrifty mama gave me some advice about shopping with older kids: If there's a toy section, let them pick a couple to play with while you shop. For some reason, someone else's toys are always more fun!

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