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!
4546 N. Western Ave., Chicago, allnewtome.com, (773) 506-1333
The basics: Kim Huster bought the business from the former Thrifty Baby owners and reopened it in February 2010. "We have pretty much anything a parent would need for their child, from clothes and gear to books and toys. We take everything on a 50/50 consignment and return any unsold items back to the owners after one season," says Huster.
Store highlights: The store tries to have something in everyone's price range-from brand new Radio Flyer toys to Carter's and Hannah Andersson.
Best tip for buyers: Always ask if there is a better price. No price is firm.
Best tip for sellers: Sort your items into outfits, rather than separate bags of pants and shirts.