One of my favorite ways to save money on baby and toddler items is at the store Once Upon a Child. This store has locations nationwide. Click here to find a store near you. Once Upon a Child buys and sells gently used children’s clothing, toys, furniture and accessories at prices significantly lower than retail stores.

The Selling Process:

1. THINK AHEAD. Once Upon a Child buys most any children’s items, but they don’t buy everything all the time. Keep upcoming seasons and holidays in mind as you gather your items to sell. They turn the stock quickly and are looking for items for upcoming seasons. For example, they won’t buy Halloween costumes in November or snow pants at the end of winter.

2. CLEAN YOUR ITEMS. Always prepare the items you wish to sell. They are more likely to purchase clothing from you if it is clean, free of stains and in good condition (no holes!) With toys, put all necessary parts in bags (tape a bag of smaller parts to the larger item) and make sure that they all work. Clean any furniture or other items you may have, like a high-chair, booster seat, baby carrier, etc.

Helpful Hint: I keep a box right in my kids’ closets where I toss items they have outgrown or grown to hate! It makes getting ready for a trip to the consignment store easy!

3. HAND IT OVER. At the store, you will fill out an information form. Make sure you mark the box that adds you to their mailing list and eNewsletter! The employees will go through your stuff and decide what they want to buy. They will pay more for name-brand items (Gymboree, Carters, etc.) than they will for Walmart and Target brand items, and they only buy items that they currently need to fill their stock.

4. GET PAID. It usually takes 15-20 minutes on a weekday, a little longer on the weekend, for them to go through your items. They will show you what they are interested in purchasing from you and make an offer. You can get cash or check from them or store credit. It’s the same amount regardless of which option you take (though they do run promotions giving you more in credit on occasion).

5. ASK QUESTIONS. After they make their offer and give you back the items they weren’t interested in, take the time to find out why they didn’t want the items they didn’t take. If they don’t like the brand or if they are too worn or stained, set them aside to donate. If they are the wrong season or just have too much stock of a particular item, keep it for next time you go! If there are multiple locations near you, you can always try a different location.

The Buying Process

1. LOOK AROUND. While they are looking through your stuff, go look through theirs. Based on my experience, their items are 50+% off normal retail prices. Not many clothing items are more than $5-$6 (older children’s items, matching sets and name brand items are slightly more expensive), most often less. I tend to look for items in the $3-$4 range. Make sure you look at each item because prices vary based on brand, size and condition. Some sleepers might run $2, while others are $4 or $5.

2. DIG A LITTLE. The clothing is organized by size, but not by type of item, so you do have to do a little digging. Make sure you look closely around the store, too; often there is a clearance area, an extra area for seasonal items, and a separate area for pajamas.

3. SEASONAL ITEMS. This is a great place to pick up seasonal items, too, like snow pants and boots, shoes for a special event, or a fancy outfit for a wedding. I have also shopped the toy section to pick up a few things to keep at Grandma’s house and in the car.

4. SHOP OFTEN. Since they are constantly buying new items from people just like you, there is a new selection every time you shop! I tend to go in with 1-2 paper bags of items I am willing to part with, on average they buy half of the items for $10-$20. I can typically buy from them enough clothing to outfit my 5 month old for a month for about the same cost, so I think of it as trading my old stuff for new. Rarely do I end up with more than $5 in out of pocket cost!

Final Notes

Once Upon a Child is franchised, so if there are multiple stores in your area, make sure you subscribe to email newsletters from each so you are aware of all special events they may be running. They also run big promotions nationally such as Buy 2 get 1 free or an Extra % off a certain type of item, usually around season changes. Some locations offer punch cards, discount days for grandparents, or other special events.

This has been a guest post by Amanda from Mandak, MN
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