Halloween is coming up so the pressure is on to find the perfect kid's costume. There is no shortage of adorable choices, but most store-bought costumes come with a hefty price tag that is hard to justify for one-time use. (It might actually be cheaper to rent an actual pachyderm than to buy an elephant costume from Pottery Barn Kids. Who are they kidding?)
Sure, DIY is an option, but that gets harder for those without seamstress skills and as kids get older and have very definite opinions about their costumes. (You can slap a hard hat on a baby and call him Bob the Builder and he won't care. An eight-year-old will call shenanigans on that.)
For those who don't want to dip into the 529 account to pony up for a Halloween costume, resale is a great (and green) option. Craigslist and eBay are worth a try, as is swapping among friends.
I've put together a resource guide of costume swaps, kid's consignment shops and resale events that all carry costumes to ease the search. (Caveat on consignment sales: The size of the costume section varies, so don't hit these up exclusively for costumes. Only check them out if you have other items on your list or have the time to pop in and out quickly.) Happy hunting!
Maya Papaya & Tony Macarony 1917 Central St., Evanston, 847-866-6292
This upscale kid's boutique in Evanston, is hosting a costume swap event on Saturday, Oct. 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Bring in gently used Halloween costumes between now and Oct. 11 and receive a voucher for each costume dropped off. Bring the voucher to the swap and choose a "new to you" costume. (Costumes must be in new or gently used condition and between sizes 0 to 12.)
Sugar Cup Trading 110 N. Marion St., Oak Park, 708-524-5336
This shop that encourages kids to trade in designer duds and clothes for new (and used) threads, is holding a Costume Swap Event as part of Oak Park's Green Halloween on Oct. 19 from noon to 4 p.m. Drop off costumes now through October 19 and receive a swap token to use on the day of the event to redeem for another costume. Sizes 0 to 16 accepted. (Costumes must be clean, complete and without stains or rips. Kids should be ready for public try-ons the day of the event so bring something to cover up those Underoos.)
Consignment shops carrying secondhand costumes:
Second Child 954 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, 773-883-0880
This Lincoln Park children's shop has been in the consignment biz since before it was cool - first opening its doors in 1987. Children's consignment items run infant through size 14 and include high-end lines such as Lilly Pulitzer, Ralph Lauren, Janie & Jack, and Baby Lulu, as well as gear, toys, and books. It requires climbing stairs to get inside, so the shop provides stroller locks to secure your wheels outside.
Kangaroo Kids 2071 N. Clybourn Ave., Chicago, 773-327-2620
An upscale consignment shop that carries size infant through 14 in brands such as Mini Boden, Flowers by Zoe, Gap, Ralph Lauren, Hanna Andersson, and Gymboree. The shop is well-organized and clearly labeled by size, with plenty of room to maneuver. And it has a parking lot, achieving the impossible Lincoln Park dream.
My Sister's Closet Resale 5413 W. Devon Ave., Chicago, 773-774-5050
A Devon Avenue institution since 1981, My Sister's Closet carries all manner of resale-women's clothing, toys, furniture, and more. Come for the children's clothing, which not only includes consignment from newborn to teens, but current season samples at wholesale prices, and Melissa and Doug toys at reduced prices.
7246 W. Foster Ave., Chicago, 773-594-1705
1600 W. 16th St., Oak Brook, 630-468-2330
9900 Ridgeland Ave., Chicago Ridge, 708-499-7035
9520 W. 159th St., Orland Park, 708-364-6333
552 S. Route 59, Naperville, 630-416-9344
2108 Plainfield Rd., Crest Hill, 815-744-0202
4616 N. Harlem Ave., Harwood Heights, 708-867-8651
These franchise-owned resale shops carry gently used children's apparel, shoes, gear, equipment, furniture, and toys, all in very good shape. Prices are reasonable and sales (which differ at each location so sign up for the mailing list for alerts) are excellent times to stock up.
Principessa Children's Boutique 453 Roger Williams, Highland Park, 847-926-0500
Designer consignment for kiddos, newborn to teen. The selection is always changing, but high-end brands can include Lilly Pulitzer, Burberry, Flowers by Zoe, Wes & Willy, and Brooks Brothers. Check back frequently for shoes from the likes of Uggs, Bogs, and Frye, many of which have never been worn. Alongside designer consignment is new special occasion clothing for tweens (ideal for the bar and bat mitzvah-bound) and small buys like candy, wristlets, and backpacks.
Hand Me Downs 614 Dempster St., Evanston, 847-475-0803
This Evanston consignment shop is well-organized and easy to navigate. It carries clothing for newborns through pre-teens, as well as gear and furniture. It boasts one of the best toy selections of any resale store in the area, with a large section devoted to children's books, American girl doll clothes, puzzles, and ride-on toys.
Kazoom 1940 Dempster St., Evanston, 847-905-0179
Well-organized children's resale shop selling clothing, shoes, gear & toys. The shop specializes in items for kids birth to age 8. No appointment necessary for consignment.
Still Adorable 995 Waukegan Rd., Glenview, 847-729-2488
Buy, sell, or trade at this cheery resale shop, which carries clothing for kids from infants to tweens, as well as maternity clothing and a small selection of baby gear, toys, and books.
Wear and Share, Children's Resale Shop 1026 College Ave., Wheaton, 630-456-4140
A well-stocked children's consignment shop that carries clothing for boys and girls size newborn to 14 from MiniBoden, Janie & Jack, Tea, Gymboree, and Hanna Andersson. The front of the store houses toys, games, puzzles and some baby gear - all in excellent condition. A flat-screen TV keeps the kids happy while you shop.
Good Cents Children 220 W. State St., Geneva, 630-208-1115
Good Cents - the largest children's resale store in the Midwest and definitely one of the best - carries a mix of new and resale merchandise for babies, children and teens. The top floor is devoted to sizes newborn to 12, with resale apparel from Gymboree, Hanna Andersson, Ralph Lauren, and Gap that runs from play clothing and special occasion wear to snowsuits and costumes. New and resale toys, books, and gifts are also in-store (but no baby equipment). Downstairs is devoted to resale teen clothing, from brands such as H&M, Forever 21, Hollister, and Abercrombie & Fitch.
Bugaboo Children's Consignment Sale on Friday September 27 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday September 28 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the half price sale at Kendall County Fairgrounds (Route 71 and E. Highpoint Rd, Yorkville). Admission is free; cash, check and credit accepted for purchases. No large bags allowed; strollers checked on the way in. Cloth bags, rolling carts, and laundry baskets permitted for shopping.
Park Ridge Newcomers Club Spring Kids Sale runs on Saturday, September 28 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on St. Andrews Lutheran Church (260 N. Northwest Hwy., Park Ridge). Admission is $2 cash but free from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Cash or credit card allowed for purchases but there's a $50 minimum on credit cards. Bring a laundry basket to shop; no strollers or carts allowed.
Growing Cents of Style on Saturday, Sept. 28 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 22N102 Pepper Road in Lake Barrington. Admission is free; cash and credit accepted for purchases.
Babies, Tots n More (9848 S. Winchester St., Chicago) will be held on Friday, September 28 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and doors reopen from noon to 2 p.m. when most items will be half off. Large tote bags provided (no outside bags permitted).
The Moms of Multiples sale will be held Saturday, October 12 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Unitarian Church of Evanston (1330 Ridge Ave., Evanston). Admission is $1; purchases are cash only. One laundry basket allowed; no strollers permitted.
Rhea Lana's children's consignment sale runs Sunday, Oct. 13 through Friday, Oct. 18 at the Villa Oaks Shopping Center (218 W. Roosevelt Rd., Villa Park). Admission is free; cash or credit for purchases.
The Here Whee Go Again resale event runs Thursday, October 17 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday, October 18 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, October 19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday October 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (half price sale) at North Lake Commons Center (291 S. Rand Rd., Lake Zurich). Admission is $5 on Thursday but otherwise free. Purchases are cash or credit card for purchases over $30.
Rebecca Little, a native Chicagoan, loves discovering new ways to keep her two very active boys entertained lest they resort to spackling heirloom furniture or flushing toy trains down the toilet - not that those are real examples. Follow her at PinwheelChicago.com.
See more of Rebecca's stories here.