Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Using Ebay and Goodwill to get the best deals on baby clothes

While I was pregnant I was obsessed from the very beginning on being prepared. I probably would have set up the nursery at 3 months pregnant if I could have. So instead I searched for the best deals I could find on all things baby. I knew I would need clothes of many different sizes since you can never really predict how big or small baby is going to be. I also knew that most babies (and kids) grow out of clothes fairly quickly. So why not shop gently used? I found deals by the plenty and stocked up like crazy (I would later come to regret not waiting till we found out the gender, as I now have an entire bin dedicated to girls clothes just sitting in my basement). There are a few downsides to over stocking up on certain sizes, unless you live somewhere the weather doesn't change too much it's hard to know when baby is going to be in a certain size. If I could do it over again I would go larger than what I estimate baby to be at at a certain age, better to have it be a bit large rather than too small.

I'll start with Ebay since that is what I used the most to begin with. I also like using Ebay since you have a bit of protection if an item is not what you were told it is, doesn't match what the seller has on the post or is damaged. You do have to pay attention to acronyms used in the post and descriptions, and examine the pictures. To start with, here are some common acronyms used on Ebay and what they mean:

EUC: excellent used condition
FC: fine condition
G: good condition
GU: gently used (item that has been used but shows little wear, accompanied by explanation of wear)
NBW: never been worn
NIB: new in box
NWT: new with tags
NWOT: new without original tags

Typically I look for EUC, NBW and NWT. NWT tags is sometimes like finding a unicorn depending on the size, you will typically find them in newborn and 0-3 month sizes. It also depends on the price you are willing to pay, I'm usually pretty cheap so I try to stay below $20 including shipping. As I go through the walk through of how I go about searching for deals you'll see what I mean.

When searching I try to be specific, for instance if L is low on PJ's in a certain size I will search "Baby Boys PJs/Pajamas 12 months/12-18 lot". If I have a lot on my plate, are low on funds or L has a lot of his current and next size up I'll only search once a week. If L is getting to the point where he is between his current size and the next size up I'll search about every other day. It really depends what you looking for, while I was pregnant I searched every day so I could find the best deals.

You can see some of the many options that ebay suggests just by typing in baby clothes. You could also go through the departments, but I find it best to search and then you tend to get more custom results.

I chose to search for baby boy clothes 12-18 months lots. I usually search in lots since you can get more bang for your buck. You will typically find you get more outfits or more items for the same amount of shipping as a single item. 

After searching I filter the results to Price + Shipping: lowest first. This is how I will usually find the best deals for the lowest price. Once you do this it will show the bid or buy it now price and shipping once you click on a listing.

If I get lucky I will find one for $0.99. These usually have the longest amount of time left, but I have gotten lucky just by placing a bid and waiting for the clock to run out.

Once you click on the listing you will be able to see more pictures (if there are any), the listing time, and your shipping cost.

If you are ready to place a bid great go for it, you will need to be registered with Ebay and for some listings Paypal. The listing will show you what payment types are accepted. If the time left is really long (I usually have a 3 day max) or you just don't know if you are sure about an item, you can always add it to your watchlist. Ebay will email you if the time is getting down to a day or less to remind you, but I would still periodically check your watchlist. 

As you are scrolling through the listings keep a watch out for lots with over ten items, the prices will be higher but you can usually find quite a lot of items with an overall great price. Make sure you are checking the shipping costs since some people will hike up that cost to offset the fact that they may only get the lowest bid. Check out this gem I found:

This to me is a great find for a couple of reasons, one: it includes 27 items (some people will count individual socks in the amount of items so make sure you check the description and do your own count) this one doesn't even have socks which is great; two the next bid starts at $10.49 which to me is a great price for that many items; and three the shipping cost is awesome (this may change based on where you are located from the seller). 

Basically it's all about being specific in your search, looking at all possible info on the listing (once you start this becomes habit, you can hit all of the main things within a matter of seconds and either bid or pass), and really going through the listings. If I set my max price before I even go onto Ebay I can be in and out within a couple minutes to half an hour. When I began I would go by departments or not be specific in my searches or not filter by price, it would then take me hours to find what I was actually looking for.

Onto Goodwill:

I don't have any fun pictures for this one since each store is going to be different so showing you the ones I frequent aren't really going to help much. Goodwill does have a site you can shop and bid on items, but for Goodwill I prefer to shop in store. People donate some junky items so it's best to get your hands on the clothes.

Best things to look for:

Be sure to run the fabric through your hands. A lot of the items at Goodwill have been worn multiple times and washed just as many, if not more. The fabric should be soft, but not overly pilled or it's not going to last very long.

This is also a good time to check for stains, the collar area is the obvious go to area but also check the diaper area since diaper explosions can leave quite the stain. Now if you find something you just can't pass up and it has a stain there are many ways to get rid of said stain. Dawn dish soap, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda works wonders, as does boiling water and oxyclean. I personally prefer the dish soap cleaner as I typically have those items on hand. 

Holes are the next thing to look for. The armpit area is probably the number one place I typically see holes in shirts and the crotch area in bottoms. Sometimes these are easy fixes if you know how to sew (or in my case have time). I will usually pass on such items, in the past if it was just too cute I would buy it (sometimes they will give you more of a discount if you point it out), plan on fixing it and, oh look, there it still sits in my to do sewing basket. By the time I've gotten to it L has outgrown it. Just not worth it to me.

Smell the clothes. I will usually straight stick my nose in it, I know gross but if there is a smoke or mildew smell even if you wash it that smell may never leave. Plus if you think about it that's how close your baby is going to be to that smell, even grosser. 

That leads me to my next tip which to a lot of people is obvious but I wouldn't feel right not putting it out there. ALWAYS wash everything you buy!!! I can not stress this one enough. I don't care if it still has the tags on it or has a note on it saying "just washed in the most natural laundry soap on Earth", it still needs to be washed. My last trip to Goodwill in a very upscale neighborhood all the clothes had a very strong commercial detergent smell (this smell you can get out just by washing in your own choice of soap). 

Price can depend on where you are located and even different stores within a 5 mile radius. I've seen shirts go from $0.99 to $2.99, still not a bad price but I like to get the most items I can for the least amount of money. For shirts I try to stay below $2 and for pants/overalls below $4, outfits below $7.

Double check the size. Not just the size on the tag, but hold it up and see if it looks like the size it says on the tag. Better yet if you have your child with hold it up to them and make sure it looks like it will fit. This is especially helpful with some larger sizes that can run a bit smaller depending on the brand. Carters can run smaller or true to size depending on what it is, Children's Place runs a bit bigger, Old Navy has slightly "off" sizing but runs in the middle (6-12 months is a tricky size for me, you know Old Navy it doesn't actually fit for 6 months. In this case I usually go with if he fits in 6/9 month clothes then it will fit), Gymboree runs just a hair bigger but stick to it fitting the size you're looking for.

Go at the right time. Depending on what season you are shopping for, I like to go at the very beginning and very end of a new season. A lot of people will go through clothes when the weather starts to change and then get rid of what won't fit the next year. During summer I try to go on Mondays or Tuesdays since people will get rid of anything that didn't sell at a garage sale. You also have to figure in processing time for Goodwill, so even a Wednesday would work good. 

Also check out the shoe section. This is tricky since it really depends on what you are looking for and the time of year (see above). These you really have to check out, especially the higher you go in size. You will want to check the tread, the velcro/laces, the inside of the shoe, and the edges. Those are where you will typically see the most wear. If you have your child with you try them on, again as you go up in size the more broken in they will be. 

Some of these are obvious, but if you are like me at the beginning you go in see something cute and completely forget everything you planned on looking for and just throw things willy nilly in your cart. Always go in with these things in mind. The worst thing is buying something, getting it home just to realize it smells or has a hole that you couldn't even be able to fix. 

I hope you enjoyed the tips and feel free to share some of your own. Same goes for stain removal, have a favorite method? Share away. I am always looking for better ways to do things and for recommendations.

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