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Navigating the Secondhand World

Save Big Money on Clothes and Gear For Kids.

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It’s one of the first lessons (of many) that a new parent learns: children grow, and they grow fast. You buy new clothes, remove the tags, turn around, and your child’s pants are already rising above his ankles. OK, so maybe not that fast, but close.

Most parents love to clothe their child in good-quality, seasonal outfits, but it can be a challenge to manage that task while keeping an eye on the budget. It’s no wonder that Denver is full of options for secondhand shopping. Since most children’s clothes don’t get much wear before they are replaced with the next size, thrift stores, consignment sales, and even neighborhood garage sales are packed with high-quality bargains.

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Savvy parents take advantage of the secondhand market by both buying and selling their kid’s clothes, toys, and gear through consignment, thrift stores, and sale events. If you know where to go, how to shop, and what to look for, you can score big. Here’s a guide to navigating Denver’s secondhand scene.

Where to Look

Secondhand and Consignment Stores

Tucked away in little downtown shops or suburban strip malls, secondhand and consignment stores carry a generous stock of gently used kids” clothes, toys, and gear. On any given day, shoppers can find baby strollers, toddler clothes, and youth styles, some up to teen sizes, for about 50 percent off retail prices.

Consignment stores also buy gently used items from parents to stock the store and pay the seller in cash, sometimes on the spot. Stores post their inventory needs either on their website or in the store, along with information about their buying policies. Kid to Kid, with stores in Aurora and Arvada, offers tips to increase the amount sellers will be offered on the “Earn More Cash” page of their website. Be sure to ask about a store credit option if you also shop at the consignment store. Sometimes, sellers earn more than the cash offer if they choose store credit instead.

Yard Sales

Don’t discount the idea of hitting the neighborhood yard sales; children’s clothing and gear usually attract crowds on summer weekends. The items may not be in the same condition you would find at the consignment stores, but if you are willing to invest some time to drive around, dig through piles, and examine items for wear, there are deep discounts waiting.

Aurora mom Kacey Hummel attended a large neighborhood yard sale weekend a few years back and found a family with a daughter one year older than her daughter. She made a point each year to hit that house first and scored a pile of gently used clothes, including winter coats, for a couple dollars each.

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Check Craig’s List and the Nextdoor app for yard sales advertising baby and children’s items, and map out a Saturday (or even better, a Friday) morning route to look for deals. Large neighborhood yard sales, where multiple households in the same area set up their yard sale on the same day, are a time (and gas) saver.

Secondhand Sales Events

On a cold, sunny spring morning in Denver, discount shoppers make their way into the National Western Complex for a Just Between Friends (JBF) consignment sale. The sales, held on select weekends at various venues, provide shoppers and sellers with deep discounts and a huge selection of merchandise all in one place. Inside, the sale fills a large hall with double-decker racks of clothing for children, along with maternity clothing and items, shelves filled with books, games, toys, and shoes. Large areas are set aside for big-ticket items, including riding toys, strollers, and other gear.

These mega-sales offer parents an opportunity to sell items, too. Sellers register, then prep and price their items, drop them off in advance of the sale, then receive payment for their sold items two weeks after the sale.

Denver mom Jennifer Hogle has two young children, and has been to half a dozen JBF sales. “I realized that every time the seasons changed, my kids had outgrown everything they wore the year before,” she says. Hogle stocks up at the sale, purchasing dozens of items for each child and outfitting them for the coming season. She also consigns items with JBF, earning back some of her expenses.

Business partners and moms Dawn Escarcega and Bobbie Jo Pavlich purchased their JBF franchise in 2016, after years of buying, selling, and serving as team leads at the sale. “We each have two girls who have grown up with JBF. We know kids are expensive and we love helping families, shop, sell, save,” Escarcega says. She remembers shopping with her sister-in-law, and says that “Our kids were always dressed way better than we were, and we were so proud to say we got their outfits for just $5!”

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Kelly Smith is a freelance writer and editor who lives with her family in Littleton.

Selling Tips

Buying Tips

Secondhand Stores

A Wee Bit Worn

Aurora, 720-870-1118

aweebitworn.com

Back on the Rack

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Denver, 303-355-0191

backontherack.biz

Bumps and Bundles Maternity & Kids Consignment

Golden, 303-279-9224

bumpsandbundles.net

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Childish Things

Boulder, 303-442-2703

childishthingsconsign.com

Kid-to-Kid

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Aurora, 303-752-2757

kidtokid.com/aurora

Arvada, 303-422-1000

kidtokid.com/arvada

Little Tykes Trading Post

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Aurora, 720-870-7191

littletykestradingpost.com

Once Upon a Child

Littleton, 303-973-3337

onceuponachildlittleton.com

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Arvada, 303-427-5437

onceuponachildarvada.com

Centennial, 720-464-6822

onceuponachildcentennial.com

Second Hand Kids

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Northglenn, 303-255-1944

facebook.com/secondhandkids

Upcoming Children’s Clothing and Gear Sales

Boulder County Parents of Twins and More Kids Sale

bouldertwins.org

April 22, 8am-1pm

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Just Between Friends

jbfsale.com

Denver: April 20-22,

Douglas County: April 6-9

Arvada/Louisville: April 27-30

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Longmont/Firestone: May 11-14

Colorado Springs: April 5-9

Loveland/Fort Collins: May 2-7

Watch for future sale event dates:

Mothers of Multiples Society mothersofmultiples.com

Rhea Lana’s southeastdenver.rhealana.com

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SuperTwins of the Rocky Mountains (STORM) stormcolorado.com

Twin Connection twinconnection.org

Kids” Discovery Days Preschool Sale arvadaumc.org/kids-discovery-days

Yard Sale Shopping Tips

Plan your route. Decide what area to shop in, or look up sales online. This allows you to make the best use of your time, as bargains will be snapped up quickly.

Make a wish list, and think about your budget. Remember, there are two kinds of yard sales; the ones where people want to make money, and the ones where people want to get rid of their things. Focus on finding the latter.

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Look for multi-family yard sales. Large sales, or those hosted by a community or organization (such as a church or a charity) offer more shopping options than single-family sales. If you do find a large/community sale, start shopping at the spot furthest from the entrance. Most people start shopping at the front, so this strategy may allow you to find better deals.

Start early. You will see a big difference in selection, and great deals, if you are one of the first to arrive at a sale.

Go ahead and haggle. It can be intimidating at first, but try using phrases like, “is this your best price?” or “would you accept {{insert price}}?” Some haggle ground rules: Be prepared to walk away, always smile and make eye contact, and ask for a package price if you are buying several items.

Pack snacks and water. Shopping, driving, and haggling are thirsty work!

Bring cash, including small bills and change. It’s easier for you and the yard sale host. Bring your checkbook, in case you find something larger to purchase (within your budget, of course) and don’t want to use all of your cash.

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Bring your own sturdy shopping bags, and leave the heavy purse at home. A fanny pack to hold cash, keys and a cellphone is a great solution, while tote bags make for an organized trip.

Let the kids stay home, or bring a friend. It’s tough to continually move kids in and out of strollers and car seats, or haggle with them over toy purchases.

Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. You will be on your feet a lot during the day, and sore or tired feet will cut your excursion short.

Consider less-than-gently worn items to keep on hand for outdoor, messy play.

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