Ah, school clothes shopping!
You either read that sentence as a horrible threat or as an exciting & intriguing possibility.
If you're in the first camp, return to your Target/Amazon/oldnavy.com shopping.
This post is not for you.
There is no judgement.
As Amy Poehler says 'Good for her, not for me'.
Be well & enjoy brand spanking new clothing!
As for the rest of you:
Have I got a field trip planned for you!
My daughter loves to shop & I love to shop. I also love to save money & there is no place better to do this than getting thrifty. I know you have your own tips & tricks & I would love to hear them in the comments!
I make this a trip that's just the two of us. I'm sure it is possible to do with multiple kids (& I give you a giant standing ovation if that's what you do) but this is our little 'thing' so we make it a date.
Here's our back to school thrifty tradition, step by step:
Assess the closet situation.
You could do a big giant clean out or just take note of what your kiddo needs more of & what they need no more of.
This doesn't mean you will everything but at least you'll have it in mind.
If you are one of those Organized people (& sometimes I am) you could even make a list.
I know, so fancy!
Choose a thrift store. Preferably a big one with a large clothing selection. We pretty much always go to the Delta Goodwill (they don't call it Superstore for nothing). But we have also hit the St.Vincent de Paul on 13th, too. & Junction City just got a big giant St. Vinnies so add that to the list!
Grab a cart & Load it up, No Holds Barred!
I always let my daughter (a certified fashionista) put whatever she wants to in the cart as long as it's her size. This results in lots of stuff.
But it's really fun for her & all part of the deal :)
I add stuff, too, for sure.
Otherwise she would end up with 15 different jean jackets & no pants. Not the fashion statement we're going for in 4th grade.
Step Three & Four
Try It On! & Sort It Out
(they happen at the same time but I'll describe them separately so no one's head explodes)
She tries on, I sort.
Here she is trying on:
If you are lucky enough to get a big dressing room, you can sort in there.
Since we usually do it at Delta Goodwill I just take over the half wall that they have outside the dressing rooms.
(& yes, people look at me funny & think I work there (& sometimes I even know the answers to their questions) but it's all worth it when we get to the register.)
How I sort:
As she is getting settled in the dressing room I take every item off of its hanger (a huge time saver)
& then I make piles.
1 pile each for
Sports stuff (shorts, dry-fit shirts)
She tries on an outfit
Do you like it?
Does it fit?
How does it feel?
Are there any stains or tears?
As she changes out of the outfit she hands it to me
& I hand her a new outfit.
Then I start a KEEP pile.
If it's a No, I hang it on the Return rack.
As the Keep pile gets bigger I try to notice if there are too many of any one thing.
The thing with thrift stores is that you get what you get on the day you're there.
So if you already went through the racks & there were only 2 skirts that worked, that's how it is today.
If you're at a big place there's generally a good variety.
You just have to decide if it's a Must or an I-think-we'll-wait.
Sometimes even if something fits & she likes it I am just not that excited about her having it (Belly shirt with Hottie written in sequins for an 8-year-old anyone?) I discretely put (hide) it on the Return rack. I only recommend this to those who are okay with lying when they get home with their finds & their kid says 'Hey! Where's that skirt that stopped right below my bottom?'. My typical response? 'Must be the thrift store fairy! She always demands a fee when we get so many good deals!'.
This is the downside to letting her put anything she wants in the cart but if I'm on the ball I sort as we go & there are always so many great options that she often forgets about the crazy/not age appropriate stuff.
Every year I let her get something that I wouldn't typically be excited about (This all happens during the Sorting process). One year it was a crazy chicken printed dress (wish I could find a picture of it!), another a really really old fashioned blue velvet dress with lace collar. VERY Special Finds. It's just a funny little thing I like to do. She doesn't really even know about it (sheesh, I really have my pants on fire) & truth be told, often it ends up being really cute & she totally makes it work. Take that, mom! :)
Ring Up & Rejoice!
We usually budget $50 per kid for school clothes.
For $50 my son (who would never in a million years agree to an afternoon of the above. Unless I offered him the Lego Death Star. & even then he would groan & complain at every turn.) gets 2 pairs of jeans, 1 sarcastically ironic t-shirt from Target. This is usually around $50. (Once I have a good read on what size he's in, I am on the lookout for stuff for him at thrift stores but I have to be very sure. I have done the buy, take home, try on, take back & try again dance too many times & it's no Macarana.) He also isn't that interested in variety so he wouldn't even want a bunch of options. I also watch the clearance rack & sales at Target all year long so he rarely needs a giant shopping trip for school.
For $35 my daughter typically ends up with about 10 items, sometimes more if I'm eagle eyed (like Megan) on the half price tags. (The remaining $15 we spend on shoes which I am usually not up for looking at on this particular shopping day) Averaging $3.50 per item? Pretty great, right?
Can you spot her Special find last year?
It's a strawberry printed brown vest.
& it's actually pretty cute :)
Oh, yeah & we came home with a cute pram, too.
It's the chance you take when heading to the thrifties!
Have fun, friends!
Find those deals!
How do you school shop?
Give us the details!
Emily Gulka is the owner & founder of GoMomGo. She has two kiddos (a Lego obsessed boy & a fashion plate girl) who are on the Go with her lots of the time (mostly to their soccer/dance/jiu jitsu practices & then they all collapse at home & watch Netflix). She also has a business called old school eugene that offers drop in play, parties & classes for kids & adults. & every once in a while she writes a blog post :)
Yesterday Megan wrote an awesome review of RiverPlay Park.
RiverPlay was built when my kids were little & it was a total sensation! & it still is! It truly is an awesome park. My 8 & 10 year old still love it. & I've got a few thoughts on it for Big Kids:
Note: You know your own kiddos so I'll let you determine exactly when the term Big Kid applies to them. I think it was about 6 for us. Since this is up to you, I'm going to hold off on safety tips for the Big Kids & just tell you about the park. Okay, except one: On the way to RiverPlay I always try to talk about strangers. This is a very well populated area, lots of people walking around & through. My kids know this talk backward & forward & usually say 'We know! We know!' but that never stops me from making sure it's fresh in their minds from the start.
There's a big grassy field & a little hill on two sides of the park so we always set up there & have that be our home base. I've found that with bigger kids sometimes it's better for me to stay in one spot & then if they need something they come right to it & I can help them out. Even if I run to the bathroom or am helping the other, they can go to the spot & wait or snack. There are also several picnic tables & benches around to use for this same purpose.
I think it is hilarious that Megan didn't even mention the sand area of RiverPlay (some parents are Sand Parents & some aren't & we can still be friends & love each other :) ) So let me just say to the Sand Parents: The sand area is awesome! It's true that this park is a little crazy during the summer & the sand area is always swarming. It has this awesome river-flowing-through-a-rock thing that goes right into the sand pit. It is always full of kids building dams, creating volcanoes, making sand pies. My son spends most of his time here & usually emerges dirty & wet & tired & happy. Because of the sheer volume of children it is an excellent way to watch personality traits come out. The leaders emerge for sure, also the builders, makers & really horrible sharers :) The sand area is really big so there's plenty of room for kids who are not interested in being a part of the craziness. Throughout the sand are there are fossils buried (attached to the ground) & kids can dig & discover. So very cool!
Oh! There's also a short wall on one end of the sand area so you can sit & watch the kids play if you want to.
Big! Giant! Play Structure!
Megan mentioned how this tall structure is pretty overwhelming for parents. & I had my fair share of climbing up to rescue a didn't-realize-how-high-she-had-climbed-until-she-looked-down-and-now-I-need-my-mom-right-now-RIGHT-NOW kiddo but at around 6 they both started to get into it (Okay, that's a lie. My son loved it from the minute he set eyes on it & by 4 had the whole thing figured out & totally owned it. But I still has to watch him like a hawk at 4. At 10 he's the king of the structure & I don't have to watch his every move for fear that I will lose sight of him.) It's tall, it's cool, it's full of ladders & a climbing wall & a huge slide & shorter slides. So many parks have small or medium sized play structures & that's great some days but when your kids just need to climb to the very top of something & yell "I'm the Queen of the World!!'? Head to RiverPlay. (& if you need to do that, too, I say go for it.)
The village part of RiverPlay is just perfect for the aspiring actors, entrepreneurs & teachers in your life. The structures are cute & have fun features like little stools & pass through windows. I have spent many an afternoon being treated to a snack at the Restaurant, taught a lesson at the School & then thrown into the Jail just for good measure. & if your kiddo meets up with another imaginative kiddo? You can head back to your home base & let them go for it (or just say 'I think I'm going to stay in Jail for a while, you go ahead.')
On the days when the heat's got you dragging this is a super fun spot. Not only is it refreshing for your kids, it's super tall so adults can stand under it, too! Double score!
There are other things to climb on & under, ride on & a really cool crank handle thing that one person (or more) turn while others ride across (it's about 1 foot off the ground). There are swings of all sorts & a water fountain & bathrooms.
Basically if your kids are old enough & big enough & you're feeling comfortable with it, RiverPlay is park heaven. Have fun!
Skinner Butte Park - RiverPlay Discovery Village
210 Cheshire Ave.
Eugene, OR 97402