Buying Children’s Clothes at Garage Sales

Van Huesen, Old Navy, Arizona, Adidas, Nike… last weekend we scored 25 clothing items for our son for a whopping total of $31! See those white and blue shorts with the tag?  That tag says $36.  (Who in the world pays $36 for boys’ shorts?!)

Buying children’s clothes at garage sales is one way we are able to live below our means, save more, and give more.  Here are some strategies I find useful when scouring the sales.

Forget first impressions or expectations. We scored this wardrobe during our “city”-wide garage sales last weekend, at the home of a single woman who has never had children.  I certainly didn’t expect to find children’s clothing at her sale!  (She had a friend selling with her.)  Don’t be afraid to breeze through a sale, even if from the road nothing looks of interest.  It doesn’t take much time, and you never know what hidden treasures there may be.

Buy off-season. Go ahead and purchase that nice-looking sweater at the beginning of summer.  Snow gear is also a popular garage sale item.  If you can store them, you’ll be happy to dig them out of the closet in the dead of winter for pennies on the dollar.

Buy a size (or two) up. All those hanging dress shirts in the photo?  They are a size (or two) too big for our 4 year old.  I knew that when I bought them, but didn’t want to pass by such quality shirts for that price.  Fortunately, we have the space to store extra items until they can be used.  It’s so much easier and less stressful to find inexpensive clothing when you don’t need it immediately.

Check for wear and tear. They are used kids’ clothes, after all.  Look past the Adidas or Nike tags and make sure there aren’t any stains or holes that you’ll be upset about when you get home.

Ask for a “bulk buy” discount. Sellers are thrilled when someone comes in and wants to purchase an armload of items at once.  Add up your loot, and don’t be afraid to ask for a lower price.  “These tags add up to $29.  Could I purchase all of it for $25?”  Be reasonable with your request, though!

Where do you purchase the bulk of your childrens’ clothing?  If you frequent garage sales, what are your best buying tips and tricks?

This post is linked to Frugal Friday.

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  1. Great buy! I have a hard time finding boys clothes for my guys now that they are getting so big, but I always look!

  2. Great ideas! We love yard sales. I just posted today about altering 6 pairs of jeans we got for my daughter at a garage sale. One pair was the Justice brand and all the jeans were in good shape. Most of my children’s clothes are from yard sales, thrift stores or hand-me-downs.

    I do have a question for you. I keep feeling like I am supposed to quit storing all of the kids’ clothes that none of them will be able to wear anymore. I don’t know if God will bless us with more children or not. We are blessed by the four we have and I have also had 4 very rough miscarriages. At the age I am, I am not sure that I hear God telling us to have more. I do feel like He is telling us to simplify and quit holding onto the clothes just in case we have another.

    So, the point of all of that was to say that I have 10 large tote boxes of girls clothes from newborn to size 6. I also have 6 large tote boxes of boys clothes from size newborn to 2T. I am thinking of having a yard sale where people can fill a plastic grocery bag with clothes for $1. My husband said to also have an option to fill a garbage bag for $5. I want to make some money, but I also want to have people get a really good deal. I have also thought of just listing each tote box separately on Craigslist, but I am not sure if that is a good idea.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me ramble. I have just been thinking a lot about this lately and your declutter challenge has been a good motivator for me. I do have to say that I spent a good deal of time crying looking through the girl clothes. My daughter will be 11 this summer and it makes me so sad at how fast the time has gone. I always thought we would have another girl.

    • @Jackie, In my area (Seattle) that would be steal!!!! I have paid $30 for a garbage bag a couple of times (of craigslist) and frequently see items for a $1 each. So I think what you are offering are great price. You could probably bump them up too or just be glad they are gone. Kids clothes always sell really well at G-sales! Good luck.

    • Well, Jackie — I think I’d take that nudge and run with it. Maybe hang on to a few really sentimental outfits (my mom lets my girls play dress up in a few of my old dresses) “just in case” but get rid of the rest. If you are blessed with more children, I’m certain that you’ll also be blessed with clothing for them. 🙂

      Depending on your area, I think your price ideas are super-cheap. The stash I got (in the photo) easily fit in a trash bag and cost $31. I was thrilled!

  3. Great tips. I often shop at second-hand shops, great deals there too. I need to start hitting the garage sale scene too.

  4. In addition to clothing, garage sales are a great source of toys, bikes, puzzles, and sporting equipment. For some strange reason, a lot of the toys are brand new – unopened. And you can’t beat the price!

  5. Super deals! Wish we lived closer- I bet my 5yo is just a bit ahead of your 4yo and I could pass some clothes on down… 🙂

  6. Great post! We have been blessed with hand-me-downs from freecycle, as well as finding great deals at thrift stores. Now that we’ve moved, I’ll have to check out the garage sales around here this summer.

  7. Mostly we’ve relied on kind people we know to donate old clothing from their kids. I think we’ve been pretty lucky so far. My son is three and a half, and I have probably only spent $150-200 for clothes (including socks, underwear, shoes, coats) for him his entire life! He is starting to grow pretty fast now, though, and could use some pants that don’t show off his ankles. 🙂

  8. Karen P. says:

    I buy all my daughters clothes secondhand. There is no reason to buy new. We frequently score gymboree & gap for $1-$2.00 each! And I’ll definately buy a gymboree or lands end knit dress(with tights!) thats still two sizes too big for $3.00! I love garage sales!

  9. My tips for clothes, or anything, shopping at yard sales, is to keep a wish list on hand of what sizes you need for certain things. For example, my four year old boy has too many swim shorts, but I know that he will need some size 8 running shoes (or bigger that I can save for later).
    Tip #2 is ask for what you are looking for. Last summer we were in the market for soccer cleats, and we were at a sale that had everything except those. So I asked, and what do you know they had not even thought of the shoes, but they were right there in a box in the garage and pulled them out and we got shoes and guards for $1.

  10. i love hitting up g-sales for clothes. my mom tends to buy all my sons’ clothes as she finds such awesome deals at the stores. can’t beat $2-3 for an entire outfit! people always suggest consignment stores or goodwill/salvation army, but honestly i find new clothes for the price they sell them for.

    • I don’t have great luck at consignment stores, either, although I did find a pair of Nike football shoes for $2 last time I went in!

  11. Hi there! I am stopping over from Frugal Friday. I enjoyed your post about buying kiddos clothes from yard sales. My fave thing to buy is out of season stuff, like coats, snow pants, boots, etc. People are anxious to get them out of their house in spring when yard sale season hits!

    When you get a chance, stop by Free 2 Be Frugal.


  12. I do the tote storage system and stock up on the sizes to come. I have two boys, so the likelihood that it will fit one of them in that given season is pretty good. I make sure I was everything before I stash it away and when the pants get close to becoming crop pants, I pull out the tote. When my husband was out of work for a year, it’s the only way that we could afford to keep quickly growing kids in cloths. A list of what I have in each size helps to keep from overbuying at sales.

    I check out the clearance racks in stores every time I’m there. Brand new shirts for $1 or new pants for $3 is almost as good as garage sale prices. Boy cloths at thrift and second hand stores are rarely in good shape.

    We’ve also been blessed with hand-me-downs. So I’m careful to share what we have with others and sell some as well.

  13. I’ve been using the excuse of being too busy to do the garage sale scene. But I’m thinking that it’s time to MAKE time to go. I’m sure my five year old daughter would love looking through everything too! Might be some good mommy-daughter time. And it would help us stay within the really low clothing budget we’ve set. Yay!

  14. 75% of my kids wardrobe comes from garage sales. I will be out early tomorrow looking for shorts for the summer and pants for the fall. We bought a ton of Boo’s baby stuff years ago at Garage Sales, only her crib and carseat were brand new! It saved us so much money.

  15. I TOTALLY clothed both of my children, through about age 11, with garage sale clothes. And, just like you, I got name brand clothes for nothing. I learned to look for church or school garage sales, and bought way over-sized if it was quality that was classic (i.e. would not go out of style). I have bought almost all of my clothes at garage sales for years; I go to the garage sales at churches in high-dollar neighborhoods and can snag Ann Taylor and the like for pennies. Love, love, love garage sales. My hubby even goes with me now!

    • Oh, yes. Fund-raiser-type garage sales are usually a gold mine, if you can handle looking through tons of junk to find the gold. 😉

  16. Thanks, Anna and Amy. I felt better after writing that comment and am resolved to let go of all of the baby clothes and items I have been holding on to. I pray someone else will be blessed by them.

  17. Wow Amy, what a score! It is always such a good feeling when you stumble upon deals like that 🙂

  18. A local mom friend mentioned shopping at a consignment store and I said that I rarely buy anything there because the prices are too high. She though $3-4 per piece was a good price. I informed her that my soon to be 2 year old was not a model and only needed to not be naked. I only buy things at the $1 or less per piece unless it is just fabulous. Our local thrift stores also have 1/2 on most of their clothes one day a week, so we shop on that day, too. Everything but her shoes we buy used and she still looks cute! And, as hubby knows how much we are saving by my yard saling, he happily goes along, too! Sometimes, we even drive an hour to a different town to yard sale there as it is bigger with more families and we can find more stuff at one go that way.

    • I love to sell at the consignment shop, and buy on their 1/2 price or bag sale days. Their regular prices… still to high for me. 🙂

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