Whether you do your shopping mostly in retail stores, thrift stores, or at garage and yard sales, there are some strategies that will work for you and help you to find a bargain every time!
If you have a child who is hard to fit for whatever reason, you may find that you must shop at retail stores, even though you'd rather not. Two things to remember: buy in the off-season (this requires a little planning ahead)and always head to the clearance racks first.
Wherever you shop, be sure to carry a list of sizes for everyone you're shopping for. It's helpful to also jot down measurements--waist sizes, inseam and sleeve length, for instance. All sizes may not be the same, plus garments that have been laundered may not be the same size they were when new.
For shoes, make a cardboard cutout of feet and slip it into shoes to see if it fits.
Keep a tape measure in your purse or at least in your vehicle all the time.
Carry a file of fabric samples from items you already have that you might like to match. You can often snip a bit of fabric from a seam allowance or some other spot that won't show. Just staple to a file card and carry in an envelope in your wallet.
Always keep your receipts. It might help to jot a note on the back to make it plain just what the receipt is for!
Here's a benefit to taking children shopping at thrift or resale shops instead of retail stores: Sizes are grouped together instead of styles being grouped together. For instance, my granddaughter, Ashley,is a size 7 and when she goes to a resale shop, she can see all the tops in size 7 and pick out what she likes.
In a retail store, she might pick out something she likes, only to have Mom say it's not available in her size or in that particular color. As a result, Ashley would much rather shop at the resale shop than at the mall! And that has to be a good thing!
Find out when your local thrift store has its "clearance" sales. Just like retail stores, resale shops try to clear out merchandise periodically, typically when seasons change and really good buys can be found.
Garage and yard sales are great sources for baby and children's clothing especially.
Instead of buying a newspaper just for the garage sale ads, see if there is an online copy.
Keep in mind that sales that have multiple family sales together in one place may have already been pretty well picked over by one another.
While the selection may be best early in the day at garage sales, sometimes by afternoon or by the second day, everything will be marked down substantially.
Develop the habit of "making an offer" at garage sales. If a price is more than you want to pay, offer less. All they can say is no. However, it's been my experience that people will usually accept what you offer.
One last strategy: If your child objects to previously worn clothing, simply point out that a garment is only new for one wearing. After being worn and laundered, everything is "previously worn"!
About The Author: Cyndi Roberts is the editor of the "1 Frugal Friend 2 Another" bi-weekly newsletter, featuring creative ideas and tips to help you "live the good life...on a budget!" Visit http://www.cynroberts.com to download a free "Recipe Sampler". Subscribe to the newsletter and receive the free e-course "Taming the Monster Grocery Bill".