More parents turning to second hand stores for children’s clothes, strollers

Watch the video above: More parents are turning to the growing number of second hand stores. Sean O’Shea reports. 

From strollers to car seats to clothes, the first year of raising a child can cost thousands of dollars.

It never seems to end, says Vanessa Galle, mother of two small boys.

“[It is] extremely expensive.  You don’t realize it until you actually have them and you start buying for each season,” she said.  “Winter had come along and we had to invest in some new coats and some winter boots.”
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“They range anywhere from $50 and $150 for winter boots that only last for a few months.”

Brandie Weikle, Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Family Magazine, said there’s less money left over as the cost of food and housing continues to rise.

“You might be taking maternity leave or parental leave so there’s less income coming in,” she said. “I think there’s another thing going on. I think we are a little bit more mindful about  what ends up in a landfill.”

That’s why the business model of children’s resale is quickly expanding. The American Once Upon a Child stores used be the only option for gently used infant and kids stuff.

Now, independent shops like Bumbleberry Kids in Toronto and Boomerang Kids in Vaughan are creating a more competitive marketplace.

“People are looking for solutions to the high cost of raising kids, they’re looking for relief,” said Krista Thompson, President of the Boomerang Kids Franchise. “It’s becoming more popular to reuse than give away.”

At Boomerang Kids, savvy shoppers can find brand name, two-piece snowsuits for $30 – less than half the retail price.  A hot pink and black Bugaboo stroller, in good condition with parts included, sells for $599 – half of the retail price.  A Baby Einstein play centre retailing for upwards of $150 – yours, gently used, for $60.

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And if you’re the one selling these used items to Boomerang Kids, that’s money in your pocket.

“On clothing, you make 40 per cent of the price it sells for. On equipment, you make 50 per cent the item sells for,” Thompson said.

And for those who prefer to shop at home in pyjamas the new Boomerang Kids website  allows people to shop by category, size and brand.

Same goes for Perfect Threads Inc where you can mail in your gently used baby and kids items and get a cash credit to use to purchase other items found on the site.  Thrifty parents can make money by selling their gently used or brand new items to stores like Boomerang Kids.

“When it’s in style and in demand, is the time to sell it.  You’ll make more money if you get rid of the clothes instead of handing them down years later to the next sibling who may not like [them],” Thompson said.

Then, there’s the not-for-profit thrift stores like the Salvation Army.  You might have to do some digging but the finds can be worth your time.  Brand name, GAP and Carter’s sleepers for as low as 99 cents,  hard-cover Dr. Seuss children’s books are four for $5.  If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a shipment of a corporate donation that could include never used, still-in-the-box cribs.  Retail prices can be as high as $599 but when Global News visited the Kennedy Road and Lawrence Avenue Salvation Army, we found Storkcraft cribs selling for $74.99 and convertible cribs priced at $249.99.

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An added bonus? You don’t pay HST.

“We have some great corporate donations.  We have some that are frequent and then we have others that are a one-time deal:  over-runs, overstocks, company closing up shop,” Julie Sargant, Manager, Salvation Army Thrift Shop on Kennedy Road in Scarborough said. “Right now we have baby cribs that would retail for several hundred dollars.  Brand new in the box.”

But there are items – like used cribs or used car seats that consumers should shy away from said Weikle.

“Some of the car seats may be expired, there could be recalls. You just need to do your research. Luckily, Health Canada has a great website where you can simply look up any recalls that may be related to the product that you’re looking at, even if you only know the brand name and not the specific model number or brand type, you can plug that product name in and get a list of recalls related to that. If a car seat has been in an accident, then it’s no longer considered stable.”