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Thrifty mom? Shop Goodwill!

June 28, 2010

My 4 1/2-year-old daughter is a fashionista in training.

She loves shoes (the sparklier the better), has a wall strung with hair bows, and believes a ballerina tutu is completely appropriate attire for just about every occasion.

But, she’s also known as Tiny Pigpen in our house. Why? Because she has the ability to thoroughly trash her clothing, reminiscent of the dirty, messy character in the Peanuts comic strip. Rips, stains, tears — Vivian is capable of inflicting one or all on just about everything she owns.

What’s a cute-clothes-loving-but-fiscally-responsible mom to do? Of course, shop at Goodwill. I can get Vivian (and her older brother Nathan) stylish, name-brand and often designer clothes at a fraction of the retail price. I simply cannot justify spending designer prices (or even full retail prices) on clothing that will likely not be wearable in a month or two.

At Goodwill, I’ve stocked her dresser with near-perfect finds from lines such as GapKids, Gymboree, Catimini, Keedo, Lands’ End, Deux Par Deux, and Cornelloki, all at $2.49 per item.

The Details:

Shop in advance. I shop a season ahead for my children in retail stores, and I do the same at Goodwill. I am not afraid to buy a size or two ahead if the quality is good. Vivian couldn’t have been more than 2 years old when I snatched up a huge lot of Gymboree size 5 items from the Cornelius Goodwill. I have had the clothing in storage since I bought it, waiting for her to grow.

Know what you need. I check for stains and signs of wear, and I have a running checklist of their wardrobe needs. I focus on basics, especially denim and simple dresses. I especially like cotton sleeveless for Vivi — if you buy a size up, you can get a second season of wear by layering with a long-sleeved T-shirt.

Don’t forget shoes! I picked up a new-with-tags pair of pink faux-Ugg boots for Vivi at the Concord Goodwill last August. They were a bit too big, but once the weather cooled, and her feet grew, they were her shoe of choice. They were so loved, they were repeatedly washed, permanently stained and frayed. But, from a cost-per-wear perspective, they more than justified the $2.49 price tag.

What tips do you have for shopping for children at Goodwill? What are some of your favorite kids’ finds?

-Rachel Sutherland


Editor’s Note: This post was written by guest blogger and Goodwill shopper Rachel Sutherland. Stop by our Contributors page for more about Rachel.

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