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5 Kids Items to Buy Used (and 4 Items Not To)

You can save a chunk of change by opting to buy children's items secondhand. Here are some buying tips plus a list of items that you should never buy used.

Springtime is resale and consignment time in Denver, and with a bevy of resale events, garage sales and brick-and-mortar secondhand stores around town, now is the perfect time to stock up on children’s items and weed out your own child’s closet and toy bins. But navigating a massive children’s secondhand sale can feel a bit overwhelming. Fear not, bargain shopping enthusiasts—we consulted with a few of the area’s resale experts to bring you tips and tricks to become resale shopping experts.

5 Children’s Items to Buy Used

  1. Clothing. Children outgrow clothes quickly, and oftentimes items were only worn a few times and are still in good condition. “There’s so much life left in clothing that it doesn’t make sense to shop retail,” says Tracey Gifford, owner of Just Between Friends Denver. Todd Rick, owner of Kid to Kid in Aurora, agrees, adding, “Kids don’t need brand new apparel (because) they’re just going to lose it, stain it, or put holes in the knees.” To save money he suggests buying kid’s clothing items used and putting that extra money towards something more beneficial, like a college fund.
  2. Baby Gear. Babies grow so fast and you can typically find gently used, quality baby gear at consignment sales. “Baby gear gets used for such a short period of time that it just makes sense to pass it along or resell it,” says Kerri Radicella, owner of Childish Things Boutique in Boulder. Gifford says you can often find secondhand items like swings, bouncy seats and Pack-n-Plays in good condition.
  3. Toys. “Retail on toys is expensive,” says Gifford, and Just Between Friends has thousands of toys in great condition that have all been checked for safety recalls, so parents know they are getting quality products at good prices. Since kids tend to lose interest in toys quickly, consignment stores like Childish Things—that are open year-round—can save parents a lot of money. Radicella says it also teaches children that buying used things can be fun.
  4. Outdoor Equipment. Most outdoor products have a long lifespan, yet typically only get used for a short time, so Frick suggests picking the best, cleanest, most useful items for your kids. Gifford says to look for items like slides, basketball hoops and climbing structures, which can save you anywhere from 75 to 80 percent off retail.
  5. Books. Kids love books, but they are often expensive and the cost can add up quickly. “Buying them used saves paper, helps parents save money and allows children to have more books in their ‘library” at home,” says Radicella.

Children’s Items NOT to Buy Used

  1. Underwear. The ‘ick” factor alone makes this one seem like a no brainer, but underwear is simply one of those everyday wardrobe essentials that should always be bought new.
  2. Cribs. Make sure to check the manufacture date on a crib you may be consider purchasing—either on a tracking label or registration form. If a crib was manufactured prior to July 2011, Gifford says, don’t buy it because “it doesn’t meet safety standards and can’t be resold anywhere.” Radicella also says to avoid buying used crib mattresses that have holes in them because bacteria can grow inside the mattress. If there are no holes and the mattress is covered with a waterproof outer cover, then she says they are fine.
  3. Car Seats. Car seats are one thing that should always be purchased new. “Any time a car seat is involved in even a minor accident, it may get damaged even if we cannot see it,” says Radicella. “Since we don’t know the history of a car seat that is being sold as used, it’s not safe to put a child in there.” Gifford adds that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) only approves car seats for a certain lifespan, and you should avoid buying a car seat that is older than four years. Although we don’t advise buying a used car seat, if you are considering buying a second-hand seat, the NHTSA has a checklist to help you determine whether a seat is safe or not.
  4. Recalled Items. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) maintains a list of products that have been recalled for hazards to children and those are the items you”ll definitely want to avoid—in fact, it’s illegal to resell them. Luckily when shopping at a reputable consignment store, the store will have already done the due diligence to make sure items are safe for resale. “At my store, we look up all the pieces of baby gear and any toys we are not completely familiar with,” says Radicella.

When to Sell Your Child’s Items

Deciding what items to get rid of can be challenging, but if an item no longer fits or your child simply doesn’t use it anymore, it’s safe to say you can consign it—as long as it’s still in reasonably good condition.

Gifford’s kids cycle through toys all the time and she suggests putting away any toys kids haven’t touched in three months. “Bring them back out two months later and if there’s no interest, sell it,” she says. She also suggests tagging outgrown items, like clothes and shoes, right away to get them out of the house.

As Flick says, “your house if full of money—you have closets, dressers and boxes full of money.” Kid to Kid is always looking for items to take off your hands. He suggests collecting all the items that your kids aren’t using anymore, like toys that aren’t being played with and apparel that has been outgrown, and selling them to put some money back into your family’s budget.

But before you try to sell anything, make sure it’s in good condition, clean and safe. “No one likes to buy a game only to get home and find that it’s missing pieces, and it’s not safe to try to sell a highchair that is missing the safety straps or a crib that’s missing screws,” says Radicella. “The safety of another child is not worth the money you”d make.”

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