COLUMN: First in line for seconds

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My daughter Elise is 11 months old and I’ve already packed away three moving boxes of clothes she’s outgrown.

My little 6.5-pound newborn skyrocketed to 18 pounds by five months old, and she’s still growing.

If each of these boxes were filled with new clothes I paid full price for in stores, the dollar amount would be well into the hundreds.

To save money, I felt I had a choice: Go with my husband’s suggestion and keep her in a rotation of pyjamas night and day, or find a more creative way to spend less money on clothing.

So I’ve set myself a goal not to spend more than $10 on any item of clothing for her until she reaches elementary school.

How can I do this, you ask? By buying used.

Your gut reaction might be that you don’t want spit- and poop-stained onesies. But after going to a number of swap meets and consignment stores, I am a convert.

Since babies grow so quickly, used clothes are often hardly worn and look new (much like the clothes in my boxes, stored away for a future little brother or sister).

Picture teensy-weensy shoes with hardly a scuff. Tiny sweaters with little bows. Cotton summer dresses with the tags still on.

The first time I came home from a swap meet, in my second trimester, I proudly dumped my bag brimming with newborn clothes onto the dining room table and asked my husband to guess how much I spent. He looked at the pile warily. “$130?” he guessed. “$30!” I crowed triumphantly.

I got a bit of a thrill from finding countless items in exchange for loonies and toonies.

And now that my daughter is here, I am better at knowing what she needs and at avoiding poor purchases (i.e. all those adorable newborn shoes she never wore).

It’s become an obsession, really.

For me, perusing kiddie consignment stores, swap meets and Craigslist is as addictive as the sinful slices of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange or watching Scott McGillivray and Sandra Rinomato on HGTV.

I pop into Little Critters Outfitters in downtown Cloverdale when I receive an email telling me about a sale (buy one get two free on winter items? I’m there!).

I have the monthly Cloverdale Kids’ Swap Meets marked on my Google calendar.

I log in to Facebook almost daily to see if my favourite online consignment store has posted any new items in Elise’s size (it’s first come, first serve, with visitors frantically typing “mine” on pieces that strike their fancy).

This thrifty philosophy can extend to toys, too.

If I have a big ticket item in mind, I type my key words into Craigslist every week. My latest finds include a Fisher Price jumperoo and musical, rocking octopus – like a rocking horse, but a “rocktopus,” if you will.

But the best part? I worry about the impact our consumer culture is having on the environment and whether the things I want will simply collect dust and end up in a landfill.

By buying second-hand I can adhere to one of the three Rs, reusing other people’s unwanted stuff – and so the wannabe shopaholic in me is unleashed guilt-free.

Kristine Salzmann is a Black Press reporter on maternity leave and mom to 11-month-old baby girl Elise. She writes monthly for The Leader on parenting issues.


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