Whether you’re handing down your outgrown kids’ clothing and toys to friends and family, or hoping to recoup their value through resale, taking good care of your things is a great way to “green” your family’s consumer habits.
As the curator of a kids’ resale shop, Toronto-based iSpy Clothing, and an avid secondhand shopper for my own family, I want to share a few tips that can help you get the most life (and the most money) for your kids’ used things.
Choose well-made things in the first place. When we buy better quality things, they hold their shape better, fade less, last longer and look good the second — or even third — time around. Buy fewer things, and choose well, with an eye to quality that will last.
Clean your kids’ clothing and toys regularly, with gentle, non-toxic cleaners. Waiting for things to get very, very dirty makes it far less likely they will get really clean again. Lightly soiled items, washed frequently, are more likely to have second lives with new kids.
Avoid scented detergents, fabric softeners and cleaners. Opt instead for unscented products, or cleaners made with natural essential oils. We can become “nose-blind” to our own scented household products, but the next owner of that scented baby blanket, outfit or jacket won’t be! Your tropical-scented Unstoppables may make a potential next owner say “stop!”
Store your outgrown things clean, and loosely packed in airtight bins. If you are concerned about moths, opt for natural cedar balls or cedar chips (readily available at home and hardware stores) instead of mothballs. Cedar is fragrant and effective, but the odour of mothballs is extremely difficult to wash out and offensive to many s(c)en(t)sitive noses!
Keep a sticky roller handy, if you’re a pet owner, or consider making your kids’ closets pet-free zones. Cat and dog fur is extremely hard to remove, and can make secondhand use of your items difficult — particularly for people with allergies. Make fur removal part of your laundry routine, if it’s an issue in your home.
Move things on to new homes swiftly. Stains that you thought were gone can rise again over time, in storage. Many a grandmother has passed on a bin of baby clothes, only to have her adult child ask “Why on Earth did you save this stained thing?!” She didn’t. She saved a clean-looking piece and deep stains rose again over time, in storage. The simple solution is to keep clothes in circulation, so they continue to be laundered regularly. Doesn’t fit? Pass it on.
Choose the re-use option that best fits your family:
Hand-Me-Downs: Handing gently-used kids’ things down to younger cousins, friends or neighbours is a great option that works for most people. If your friends and neighbours’ kids are different ages or genders or seasons — or if you hope to reclaim some value for yoru things — you may be interested in selling them.
Online Buy & Sell: Selling things yourself, online, is one option. If you work long hours and/or have a busy family life, then reselling your own things online may not be for you. The hours spent messaging with prospective buyers, arranging porch pick-ups, following up when plans change, and so on, may be put to better use in other areas of your life.
Mom to Mom Sales: So-called “mom to mom” sales are another way of selling things yourself, while paying a fee to an organizer of the sale, who takes care of securing a venue and advertising the event, bringing customers your way. Most often, you supervise your own table of items at the event. Given the price point of secondhand kids’ gear, this can significantly eat into your earnings, for your efforts. It does have the advantage of avoiding parking lot meet-ups and failed porch pick-ups, though. Some families also enjoy the community feel of these events.
If rolling up your sleeves to DIY reselling your kids’ things isn’t for you, look into store-based resale, consignment and donation options in your community. Do your research and read stores’ About Us pages, to get a solid understanding of what they offer. If you’re thinking about any of these options, then you’re part of the trend towards more conscious consumerism.
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