Clothing Expense Reduction
by Michelle Giroux
Myriad alternatives to full cost clothing apparel exist inside and out of conventional bargain hunting locales. Treasuries of reduced price clothing are routinely advertised in sales fliers and piled up on clearance shelves at department stores. Racks at discount stores, thrift shops and classic garage sales are packed with a variable selection of bargains that must be perused to find the necessary items and sizes.
For those with computer access, the online world hosts a cornucopia of bargains at virtual marketplaces, providing customers with convenient, around-the-clock shopping access without waiting lines and travel expenses. From auctioning to buy now options, clothes bargain hunters are able to browse and directly purchase from electronic commerce mega-shopping platforms such as Ebay and Amazon.com as well as company or personal sites that hold just a few listings such as Gone-Tomorrow.com/ and vegsource.com/homeschool/clotheswap/index.html. (Home schooling is not a participatory requirement.) A potential downside to online shopping is that some shipping charges may actually negate savings. There are companies, however, that offer free or minimal shipping costs. Shipping fees notwithstanding, if the selling price is low enough, significant savings may still be procured.
Online coupons are another way to save cash on clothing purchases. Ebates.com is just one of the many sites that offer free coupons. Some of these sites require a simple sign up while others allow coupon print outs with no questions asked. Check out couponing.about.com/od/rebates/qt/printapparel.htm.
Loads of costless clothing items are listed online as well as found in the local community. Online blogging forums or message boards offer points of contact for sellers and buyers, givers and traders and resource seekers to post advertisements and communicate needs. Yahoo groups has hundreds of forums dedicated to clothes finds. Posters can list items they are looking for or wish to contribute or sell to others. One such example is Closet Treasures where people can "buy, sell, or trade items you no longer need". Find it at groups.yahoo.com/group/ClosetTreasures/.
Yahoo groups is also the list server for Freecycle, which is a conglomerate of online message groups applying the reuse and recycle concept to usable items of all kinds including clothing wears. There are hundreds of thousands of regional Freecycle groups throughout the country and around the world. The unifying policy for all of these individual groups is that no currency exchanges hands for any listed item on any Freecycle site. See freecycle.org/. The potential is that thousands of viewers check out Freecycle and other message board requests, making it plausible that someone has or is able to locate what is being requested. Therefore, it is most effective to be specific when requesting items (clothing in this case). Clearly state any company required brands, colors and styles.
Many community outlets provide or are points of reference for free or reduced clothing. The number of clothing banks, or rooms or closets as they are often referred as, are scattered throughout communities. Customers that feel uncomfortable about acquiring fund-free items can offer a donation. Most free outlets offer a coin and change jar, and if one is unavailable, speak to the clerk about contributing. Most local town halls and churches have point of contact information on clothing banks.
Here's just a small sampling of thrift shops and free clothing outlets. The Salvation Army operates thrift shops around the state. The nonprofit agency also distributes vouchers to those falling in the low income bracket and provides reference services to other appropriate resources as well. See use.salvationarmy.org. A phone call or web log onto the local 211 community information service directory that many states now provide should yield a more extensive resource listing of reduced cost and free clothing. Visit 211.org.
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- Check out Chadwicks for great deals on women's clothing!
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