It’s a ritual that’s familiar in many families. Sometime during the last sweet weeks of summer, closets get reorganized in preparation for the school year. Clothes that have been outgrown have to make way for something that fits. This process often involves multiple trips to the mall and the local donation center or consignment shop.
If the driving and hauling don’t appeal, there are alternatives, and some of them are ecological as well as economical. The websites listed below specialize in buying—and selling—used clothes for children. In some cases, you are responsible for setting up an account, taking photos, writing descriptions, and handling shipping when a sale occurs, just as you would be on other resale sites. In other cases, you simply send off clean, gently used clothes in a prepaid mailing bag. Staff members do the sorting and photography, and you get cash or a credit on the site.
Shopping on these sites can also be a time- and money- saving alternative. Many sell high-end fashions for a fraction of what they would cost new. And most have rigorous quality control so you can be sure your items will arrive without rips or stains from the previous owners. The sites vary in style and attitude. Following them on social media might be a good way to find out if they are a match for your family.
The sites also vary in their policies. Most have detailed lists of what they will accept from sellers, but what you’ll earn varies depending on how prices are set and who does the work of posting and shipping items. Most sites offer a return policy to buyers, and many offer special deals. Be sure to look for coupons that provide an extra discount or free shipping.
Thredup has well-organized sections for boys and girls clothing as well as maternity clothes and handbags. If you’re selling, you can use their price estimator to figure out what you might earn on items you have available. On request, they send a free clean-out kit, and they pay the postage on what you send. About 40% of what they get is accepted to be photographed and sold on the site. The rest can be returned to you (for a fee) or donated. The money you earn can also be donated, used as a site credit or credited to your Paypal account.
DessieKids specializes in upscale designer clothing for newborns through age 8. They have a special “new with tags” section for clothes that were never worn, and they pay for inventory immediately without waiting for your item to sell.
Josiesfriends operates like an online consignment shop. Consigners earn 60% of the purchase price if they take a store credit or 50% if they want cash. Shipping is free on orders over $49, and they have a special section for school uniforms. They also pledge that a percentage of their profits will be used to sponsor impoverished children.
Kidizen calls itself a marketplace community for children’s clothing, toys, books and accessories. You can set up shop simply by uploading photos of what you have to sell and setting a price. Convenient apps for iPhone and Android make it easy to buy and sell on the go.
LOTeda specializes in cloths for kids under 5. If you send in at least 20 items, they arrange them into “lots” and post photos online. When your lot sells, they handle shipping and you get 60% of the price. For buyers, having clothes organized into matching lots can save both time and money.
Flipsize has a huge inventory of clothing for children 12 months to 12 years old. Sellers can request a flipbag and fill it with clean, used clothing. The website awards points for useable items which can be redeemed on the website or converted into cash or gift cards. The site is well-organized, and shipping is free on orders over $50.
Swap claims to be the largest online consignment store. In addition to children’s clothes, they handle books, DVD’s and sporting equipment. The site offers very detailed instructions about how to package and ship items that you hope to sell. They entice first-time buyers by offering free shipping on a first order over $10.
If buying and selling online doesn’t appeal, you can find a very complete list of local consignment shops by putting your zip code into the search engine at TheThriftshopper.com. Many organizations are also glad to have donations of children’s clothing and other back-to-school items. In addition to Goodwill and the Salvation Army, consider local shelters for refugees, homeless families or victims of domestic abuse.
Schoola is another creative idea. Like the programs listed above, Schoola accepts used clothing as a donation and then sells items on its website. Forty percent of everything the site earns is donated to educational programs. The site lets you donate or shop on behalf of your kid’s school. Or you can organize a clothing drive as a fundraiser.
Even clothes that are too shabby to be donated shouldn’t go into the trash. Many items, including shoes, can be recycled to create new products. Earth911 has detailed information about recycling clothes, shoes, eyeglasses, books, electronics, and almost anything else you might find in a child’s room.
Clearing out clothes and other items that have been outgrown gives children a good start for the coming school year. Involving kids in thoughtful decisions about what to buy and how to dispose of things they no longer need equips them to be responsible stewards of the planet for the rest of their lives.
Carolyn Jabs, M.A., has been writing Growing Up Online for ten year. She is also the author of Cooperative Wisdom: Bringing People Together When Things Fall Apart, now available at Amazon and other booksellers. Visit cooperativewisdom.org for more information.
@ Copyright, 2016, Carolyn Jabs. All rights reserved.