I distinctly remember "back to school" shopping. It was the 1980's and it was just my sister and me. My mom would take us to the mall (egad!) and we would shop for up to six hours, store after store, all in one day. My favorite stores were Banana Republic (when it was still cool), Gap, and a little place that sold sort-of Bohemian stuff. After an exuasting several hours and a food court lunch, we would come home and do a fashion show for my dad. Outfit after outfit, totaling in the hundreds of dollars.
Now that I am a mom, I don’t do it that way.
First of all, I have two boys. So,honestly, they don’t really care all that much… at least right now.
Secondly, I do not have hundreds of dollars put aside to clothe them. I really don’t know how my mother and father did it every year. Looking back, we were not wealthy. I think that they just felt it was important because we were girls.
My boys wear a very nice variety of tee shirts and jeans.
Needless to say, although I do not want to go shopping for multiple hours with my boys (because they would end up in floppy, starving heaps on the ground), I do need to get them some items. They are growing taller and their little feet are getting bigger!
I rarely buy anything full price. I can't bare it. Even a "sale" at Target is not sale enough for me. Second-hand has really gained popularity since stores like Once Upon a Child and Plato's Closet opened. You can find pretty much every type of clothing you need from baby to preteen. Granted, you need to shop smart. If you wait too long, all the snow pants and boots will be sold out. They don't use coupons to my knowledge, so hitting them up during their fill-a-bag sales is a great money saver. And make sure you get on thier email lists.
My third point, and most important, is that I think my perspective on what is truly important in starting the school year has changed too.
I started shopping like any other excited Kindergartener's mom a few years ago: new shoes, new backpack, new lunchbox, new, new, new. This year, though, I took a good look at their back packs and they are in extremely good shape.
So, I am resisting the temptation to buy a new one. $9.99 to $54.99 is the general price range for backpacks, and that's money I could save for other things,. You don't go out and buy just to buy when you already have something good! This goes for many of their clothing items too. I hope that that by these small choices, I am teaching them a lesson in frugality and good stewardship of their belongings.
The other day I was watching TV and an ad came on that said, “Back to school shopping, sale now, come shop now…!” I’ll admit it, I had a completely emotional reaction. I turned to my husband and said, “Oh no, back to school shopping already?” In his sage wisdom, my husband replied, “Remember honey, the ones who are saying 'shop now' for back to school are always the ones who want your money.”
He was right of course.
www.onceuponachild.com "Gently used" second hand store, buys and sells, clothes, shoes, toys, and more. Enfield, Bristol, Danbury locations.
http://www.platosclosetcentralct.com "Gently used clothes and accessories for teens and twenty-somethings." Wethersfield, South Windsor, Enfield locations
www.Goodwill.org "Goodwill Industries International enhances the dignity and quality of life of individuals, families and communities by eliminating barriers to opportunity and helping people in need reach their fullest potential through the power of work." Donations accepted, shoes, clothes, household items and clothes. Locations in Manchester, Glastonbury, Rocky Hill.
www.savers.com "As a leader and pioneer in the retail thrift industry, we're a place where people from all backgrounds love to shop for great selection, deals and treasures...Savers was founded in 1954 on principles such as giving back and providing opportunities." Donations accepted. Locations in Manchester, Newington, Springfield, Mass.
www.kennadisclosetconsignment.com "Located in Windsor on the second floor of 25 Central Street, Kennadi's Closet Consignment is a children's store which offers toys, baby gear, accessories and maternity clothing." Items accepted for consignment. Windsor location.
www.gracechurchonthegreen.org/coolkids.html "Cool Kids Clothes is an outreach program at the Grace Episcopal Church. This business sells second-hand, gently-used clothing to its customers." Windsor location.