Kids grow out of everything so quickly that seasonal shopping can be demoralizing. Short of producing more offspring purely so the clothes you bought your first kid are an investment paying off in hand-me-downs, what’s a parent to do?
THRIFT, that’s what!
I know, I know — when it comes to our precious snowflakes, we give them only the best! But hear me out: The money you save will go to field trips and college funds, Mandarin lessons and tap class. It’s kinder to your fellow humans (even the most ethical of chains find it difficult to rule out exploitation of workers entirely) and to the environment our children will be inheriting. Thrifting for kids makes sense precisely BECAUSE they grow out of things so quickly. By the time it’s in the thrift shop, it’s probably only been worn a couple times; you’ll buy it for a tenth of what it would have cost to buy new. And sometimes it IS new, with the tag still on it! And then, once YOUR kid only wears it a few times and grows out of it? SELL IT BACK TO THE THRIFT SHOP!
Allow me to escort you through my top five kid thrifting spots. All these locations have great clothes, but I’ll also clue you in to what else you might find there:
Two Little Monkeys :: Somerville
I love this place. It has a section devoted JUST to dancing clothes: leotards, tutus, tights, shoes, etc. It also has a rack of great costumes for Halloween, or just for dress-up. Summer stuff is on sale right now, and you can scoop up swim suits and rash guards for swim classes in the winter or with next year’s hypothetical size in mind. Also look for Bumbo seats, high chairs, double strollers, cloth diapers, and tons of furniture. Two Little Monkeys is also a boutique for artists, selling locally made teething necklaces, handmade soaps, wet bags, you name it! I snagged a toy John Deere sandbox digger here for a third of what it retails for.
Growing Up Children’s Resale Boutique :: Belmont
As a mom who bikes, the first thing that caught my eye is just how much this store has for cycling: tandem attachments, child seats, children’s bike helmets, and bikes for kids. This consignment shop has a great selection of nursing pillows, baby carriers, toys, and maternity clothes. They have furniture, strollers, and great deals on BEAUTIFUL toys — the big kind you see in the toy store and think, “Well, sure, I’d buy it if it were affordable.” It’s affordable here!
The Children’s Orchard :: Several locations in the Boston area, on the North Shore, and New Hampshire
The Children’s Orchard is always a great bet. I usually go to their location in Rowley, where I got my son a pair of snow boots that cost less than the two coffees I drank that day. And I found a toy piano for $20 that would retail for over $100.
The Little Fox :: Arlington
What I love most about this place is that it’s a non-profit, supporting the Fox Library! Their hours can be confusing, so make sure they’re open before you go. The volunteers who work here are lovely, the atmosphere is calm and inviting, they let your kids play while you browse, and their selection is fabulous.
Fireflies Boutique :: Gloucester
OK, I know it’s a hike, but it’s my absolute favorite. I’ll take any excuse to go to Gloucester, and with summer waning, make a day of it: Hop on the train, throw in the beach or Stage Fort Park. Last year I found a pair of 3T purple snow pants here for $8, and they’re big enough for my kid to wear this year, no question. For $2, I also got him a light long-sleeved button down to protect him from the sun; he has worn it nearly every day this summer! They also have a great selection of local and handmade accessories and clothes, and the people who work here are the best.
It’s nice to have something new, I know. So here’s my strategy: First, if you have older children, call to make sure the shop carries their sizes. Then, go and see what you can find. Make a thrift shop your first stop. And after that, if you still need something new, go for it.
You got my favorite thrift shops for the bargain price of NOTHING. The best places to eat near all these stores? That will cost you, my friend.