Carrie Kirby, an Oak Park mother of three and the author of the Chicago Tribune column Frugalista, buys nearly all of her kids' clothes secondhand - including their underwear.
When it comes to searching for gently used finds, Kirby says many people confuse thrift shops with resale stores.
"I think of my shopping options as a spectrum," she says, "from the cheapest thrift stores to rummage sales, consignment events, eBay auctions, and then on up to the higher-end resale shops."
Children's resale and consignment is big business-nationally, and here in the Chicago area. According to an industry trade group, the number of resale/consignment shops has increased at a rate of about 7 percent annually for the past two years to more than 30,000 stores in the U.S. Some stores work on a straight consignment model, others buy the merchandise outright and some use a combination of approaches.
Kirby shares some tricks of the trade:
Kirby reminds sellers and consigners to keep the following in mind when they try to sell their items:
Here are five resale shops we're raving about. Do you have a favorite? Comment below!
823 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, ojoykids.com, (708) 383-3437
The basics: O Joy works on a straight consignment system. Clothing has four months to sell, and unsold items are then donated to local charities. “We have a totally automated point-of-purchase system, so consigners can call anytime and find out the exact status of their stuff,” says co-owner Andrea Mounadi.
Store highlights: “We really work to offer a full range of product for parents,” Mounadi says. The inventory is split with 50 percent clothing and 50 percent gear, games and toys. An art table is available so kids can play while mom or dad shops.
Best tip for buyers: Shop often. Merchandise changes all of the time. Use patience and take the time to look through the racks.
Best tip for sellers: Make sure you differentiate between consigning your merchandise and selling it at a garage sale. Ask yourself, “If I went into the store, would I buy this for my child?”