Is it possible to find suitable used clothing at yard sales, consignment stores, or thrift stores for boys?

Used Clothes for Boys

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

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Used Clothes for Boys?

I have no trouble finding good used clothing for my nearly two-year-old daughter, but find it nearly impossible to find suitable used clothing at yard sales, consignment stores, or thrift stores for my two boys, ages 8 and 12. Now that my 12-year-old is bigger, I occasionally find small men's clothing for him. The very few things I find for my eight-year-old are so ratty. What am I doing wrong? How can I find good used clothing and shoes for my boys? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Keep Trying

I have always bought all of our clothes at garage sales. We have two boys and two girls, and they are grown now. Finding boys' clothes in good condition was a challenge. But I always went to the Saturday morning subdivision sales that had 40, more or less, homes participating and I usually found one home with the size I needed. Usually five or six Saturday mornings of subdivision garage sales equipped me with everything our family of six needed for the next year!

Just Keep Looking

I have three boys, ages 10, 14, and 17. I find that I do the best when I go to a yard sale not looking for anything in particular. In other words, buy what is nice at each one and don't go looking for a specific item. Many times I have purchased boys clothing at yard sales and have had to "pack it away" because it fits none of them at the time. I have bought it simply because it was a nice item that I knew they would eventually wear. Don't rule out sizes that may not fit right now. They can always grow into it. Yes, look through the men's stuff for your oldest child especially t-shirts. Kids like to wear them big anyway, I've gotten some really good deals.

A lot of people sell "junk." Maybe only attend yard sales in some better areas. I do agree that boys are harder to find things for than girls. I think it's because they are harder on their clothes. Don't give up. This is a great way to save hundreds of dollars.

Buy New and Pass Down

I asked a friend of mine with two boys how she clothes them for less. She said she doesn't bother with consignment stores, as she finds the prices are about one half or one third less than prices you can find at warehouse type stores. Her boys are three years apart, and she feels it pays to buy the older one a little better quality of clothing for things like sweaters and shirts in darker colors so that they can be passed on to the younger one. For this, she makes a list of items the elder one needs and then hunts for sales. She also has organized clothing swaps for children under 14 years. She calls on neighbors and friends and asks for their help to get the word out. They meet with boxes of clothing and shoes to sell or swap. At the end, they share their ideas on where in their area they like to shop and where the best sales are. You can also do this for your own clothing, and it really is a lot of fun. I am tall and have gotten many tips on finding pants that fit and what time of year the best sales are on. If your area has a "buy and sell" newspaper, look up clothing, and you'll see individuals selling just the clothing or items for certain age groups. You may also find factory sales in the paper. I've found one for sweatshirts that is excellent.

Teach Kids to Care for Clothing

If need be, go ahead and buy a few things new. Try to choose items that can be mixed and matched with other new or "experienced" items, so that the wardrobe can be varied without buying a lot of coordinated ensembles. As with any purchase, pick clothing that will last, whether for handing down or for resale.

Teach your children to change their clothes! The concept of "if it's good enough for school, it's good enough for play" results in a lot of ruined clothing and unnecessary laundry. Use "experienced" clothing for play.
George C.

Hit End-of-Season Clearances

I have an 11-year-old and I have a terrible time finding yard sale clothes for him or thrift store clothes for that matter.

I wait until the end of the season and hit the clearance racks. I buy one to two sizes larger than he's wearing at the time. With fashions the way they are, baggy isn't necessarily a bad thing.

I also wait for sales and rebates. I just bought him three pairs of sweat pants at K-Mart. The sweats were $4.99 with a $1.00 rebate on each pair. Granted, that's a lot more than the 50 cents I spent for an entire sweat outfit for my two-year-old at a yard sale last week, but it's still cheaper than new jeans.

I'm not sure what part of the country you're in, but in Tucson, AZ, where I am, the yard sales last a long time due to the weather, plus we have swap meets. I hit a lot of sales and I find that the more I hit, the more I find. Of course, I run other errands and plan my route very carefully to avoid back-tracking, but I hit 20 or more yard-sales on "yard-sale" day. I am usually very lucky with shirts, but still have a problem w/ pants.

Another suggestion is to find a friend or co-worker who has a child a touch older than yours and tell them you're willing to swap a loaf of home-baked bread or some other service for their children's outgrown (but still in good condition) clothes.

Network With Friends and Relatives

I, too, had problems finding clothes for my son. Not only was he hard on his clothes, but he was also extra tall.

First, visit her son's classroom. Take note of all the boys in the grade who match her son's sizes, and then go to those children's parents to see if they'd be interested in letting you purchase used items from them.

Also scout members of your own family. Begin a "round robin" clothing exchange with cousins, uncles, and so forth. In our family, there's an adorable leather sleeved letter-jacket in an extra small size that's been worn by at least seven kids at various times! Take advantage of the older kids in your family! (Your neighbors and co-workers families as well!)

Please be aware that most boys are just miserably tough on their jeans. I gave up entirely on getting used jeans for my son, but was able to save enough on shorts, shirts, coats, etc. for him so that I could afford to get him nice jeans that fit while they were on sale.

As a last resort, I'd suggest you learn how to sew and make the boys their jeans for a couple years until they grow big enough to fit the men's sizes.
Kim L in Spirit Lake, IA

Thrift Shops Work for Me

I have found it useful to go to thrift shops. It's hit or miss but I have found these places to be money savers. They even have tag sales. Depending on certain days, some colors may be half-price. Not only that, you know that the money you use to purchase items from there goes to a good cause.

Shop Often

Boys will be boys! Whoever coined that phrase knew what they were talking about. Boys usually wear out their clothes before they outgrow them. I have found that the only way to find "good" used clothes for boys is to shop often. Stop in often and look for their clearance sales. October and November seem to be a good time for this, as "start of school" sales are over. Making it known at thrift stores that you have several children is often a door to hand-me-downs. Some thrift stores are overloaded with clothes and weekly weed out clothes for the garbage man. Ask if you could dispose of them for them and then pick out what you can use and either pass them on or send them to a thrift store.

Search Freecycle for Used Clothes for Boys

Our local Freecycle always has boys clothes of different sizes listed. Check your area for Freecycle and join!

Host a Clothing Swap

Have you thought about doing a clothing swap with other families in the neighborhood? Come together on a Saturday morning and serve coffee and donuts. Have your friends/neighbors bring their kids gently-used but outgrown clothes. Set out several tables with the clothing set in piles by size and let everyone (even the kids) get in on the action! This is a great way to "recycle" gently used clothing and share with friends and neighbors. You may find this becomes an annual gathering!

Join a Recycling Group

Thred Up is a recycling group where you can get wonderful things. Take a look.

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