Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cheep Cheep Cheep

I love to brag about my thrift store finds and treasures. Everyone loves a great deal and a great find, but I think these monologues serve a different purpose for me. They serve to convince myself that secondhand shopping is okay, or even better than new shopping. Somewhere back there in my mind is a voice saying "You let your daughter run around in OLD CLOTHES?"

My daughter has very specific ideas about the ways her clothing should look and fit. It's not about fashion; she has definite specs for how her clothes should lie on her body; pants cannot be too high or too low, shirts need to be long enough for tucking because she doesn't like them flouncy, etc. These ideas change frequently, so right there is a big expenditure. It's not good enough to have one "tucking" shirt, once she has decided shirts must be tucked, life becomes a miserable hassle of laundry demands and tears unless she has sufficient "tucking" shirts. It is clear she is uncomfortable with untucked shirts, just as I am with tucked shirts, so I am not inclined to force the issue. Life is too short to have a drawn out battle with tears and screaming every morning over a tee shirt. I've solved this problem by shopping at the thrift store. She gets the clothing she wants, and I spend less than I would on one comparable item at Target.

Similarly, I reject the handwringing and stress that results from worrying your kid will dirty, rip, stain, lose, or outgrow their clothing. When we go to the park and play, we PLAY. We may come home looking as though we've emerged from a swamp walk, but we are happy. I would vastly prefer she dive cheerfully into playing and get messy than sit on the sidelines to preserve her frock. I don't have a lot of limitations on what she can play in either. If we need to dress nicely for something, we always manage to dig out something that looks presentable. Too many times I have suggested she put on old play clothes for a trip to the park only to have her decide she'd rather sit home in pretty clothes. Nope. Not on my watch.

Something I love about shopping in the thrift stores where I go (a tony neighborhood near mine) is that much of the clothing is nearly new, and is almost always far better brands than I could afford to purchase new. I might spend $5-15 on a new pair of jeans for her at Target (depending on the clearance rack) but I regularly purchase Children's Place and Gap jeans for her for literally pennies on the dollar. These clothes are better made than the discount ones and often have extras like fancy snaps, embroidery, designs, etc.

As the clothes get outgrown, so do things like bicycles. I laughed when I saw her hunching over her little bike--she had jumped two sizes of bike; from 12" to 16"--seemingly overnight. The bikes at the local toy store were long on extras like baskets and streamers and short on quality. Most of them had plastic chainguards, chintzy training wheels, and were rattling and coming apart after a few spins around the showroom floor. Rather than waste $90 on one of these, I turned to Craigslist. I found a local family selling a bike just like I needed for only $20. I picked it up and my daughter has already logged several miles on it (while I got a much needed workout trying to keep up!).

And so this weekend's tote board:
9 shirts for Maggie
4 pairs of jeans for Maggie (1 in her current size, 3 in the next one up)
1 pair of high heeled boots for Maggie, which are her current favorite thing in the world
2 tops for me
1 pair of pants for me
1 skirt for me
1 fleece jacket for me (I've been stealing my husband's for 2 years now)
1 Kenneth Cole suit off the dollar rack (yes, only $1, and exactly the husband's size)
1 16" bicycle with appropriate frills and sparkles

Total: $55.93

I spent more at the grocery store!


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