Second-Hand Shopping For Baby And Kids In Chicago

May 10, 2011 7:00 AM

Once Upon A Child

There’s a reason why the old adage “growing like weeds” strikes a chord in parents’ minds: babies and little kids seemingly grow overnight, leaving barely-worn shoes or clothes and gently loved toys and accessories in the dirt behind them. Parents who recognize this phenomenon often balk at buying new high-priced clothes and toys for little ones, as they know those things won’t see the light of day for too long. For the penny-pincher and eco-conscious family, here’s a guide to finding nearly everything your little one needs second hand in the Chicagoland area.

Determine what must be bought new

Most parents will want to buy the obvious personal garments like underwear, pacifiers, bottle nipples, breast pumps and toothbrushes unused for sanitary purposes. But what about shoes, clothes, side-car sleepers and cloth diapers? Well, that’s where personal preference comes to mind. Are you satisfied with sunning out a pair of used shoes? Deep-cleaning cloth diapers by stripping and rinsing with vinegar then sunning? Washing and airing out baby bedding? Because all of these items are readily available second hand, you must determine your comfort level and ask yourself if the price of new is really worth it or if you can live with a slightly blemished or just plain gently-loved {but thoroughly} cleaned kid item.

Make a list of what your child will need for the upcoming year

While most people are accustomed to buying gently-used clothes, bikes and toys at neighborhood garage sales, some popular second-hand items not readily available at these kinds of rummage sales are overlooked:Co-sleepers, bouncers, bike trailers, shoes {little feet grow so quickly that often second-hand shoes have never actually been worn}, bulk toy sets like Geo Tracks, baby carriers and complete nursery sets are often items that rarely show up at neighborhood sales but can easily be found by searching alternative selling sites.

Know your alternatives to the yard sale

Craigslist Chicago, Ebay and FreeCycle local all have separate listings for baby and kid clothes and gear. Utilize these virtual yard sales especially when looking for specific sets of items or higher-end gear and clothes and during the off garage-sale seasons during the cold Chicago winters.

Local Clubs:
In addition to checking these online second-hand sales sites, check with your local Mothers of Multiples Clubs, as many chapters host huge yearly rummage sales featuring myriad gently used clothing and pieces of equipment like strollers, bikes and bike trailers, exersaucers and complete doll and train sets.

Signing up to receive emails from places like The Bump Club Chicago, which sponsors a large resale consignment event, also will provide ample opportunity to score gently-loved items at a fraction of the sticker price

Community and Schools:
Some schools, like Butterfield Elementary School in Libertyville, host multi-day second-hand shopping events where parents can fill an entire bag for a fragment of what items would cost at the store. Keep your eyes peeled, especially in the spring, for flyers announcing these sales or call your local schools to inquire about any such upcoming events.

Local Resale Shops

The Second Child
954 W. Armitage Ave. / Chicago 60614
(773) 883-0880

The Second Child features upscale, hip children’s clothes at a fraction of the cost. The shelves are often packed with high-end, barely worn designer clothes and brand-name shoes.

Once Upon a Child
7246 Foster Ave. / Chicago 60656
(773) 594-1705

Lined with aisles of clothing, baby gear and toys, Once Upon a Child rehomes nearly everything a parent would seek to buy second hand. The prices are very reasonable and the quality of merchandise is well worth the low prices.

All New To Me
4546 N. Western Ave. / Chicago 60625

Showcasing a variety of brands, baby goods at All New To Me are reasonably priced. The store has everything from upscale strollers and clothes to books and even the occasional baby carrier.

Hyacynth Worth writes about all things motherhood, green and natural at her blog Undercover Mother.

Watch & Listen LIVE