Eva starts school again next week! We’re spending this week meeting her teachers and getting her used to her classroom, but next week she’ll be off to be a big girl and I’ll be back to being a mom of one for at least part of the week. I know that a lot of moms have a hard time when their little kids put those big backpacks on and trot off to school, but I’m really looking forward to the break. Really looking forward to it. Like I might spend her first day of school finding myself a weekday champagne brunch somewhere in Salt Lake City.
I do love back-to-school time. It’s more of a new year’s celebration to me than that snowy in January, since I’m permanently stuck on a K-12 calendar. When I was little, I always got a bunch of brand new school supplies, a new backpack, and bunch of new clothes to wake up my closet. Eva doesn’t need any school supplies and she never used last year’s backpack since the Montessori assigned school-branded cloth bags to everyone, but who doesn’t need new school clothes?
(OK, confession: Eva didn’t need school clothes. Kiddo has plenty. I just wanted to shop and dress her up like a Cabbage Patch Doll. Indulge me.)
I was originally just going to wander around the mall and pick up some new things for the Eve-ster, but I capped my shopping budget at $100 and that will buy you surprisingly little at retail prices. Kid clothes are priced almost as high as adult clothes for some reason, so a pair of shoes, a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, and a light jacket would have easily put me over budget at the Gap. No fun at all. So, I decided to experiment and see how far I could stretch $100 if I exclusively shopped at secondhand stores. Here’s how I did:
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Shop 1: I started at a local secondhand store that specializes in children’s clothing. The neighborhood for this store isn’t the greatest so I don’t shop here very often, but they have a pretty good selection. This is the kind of place that gives you store credit if you turn in your old kid clothes, so you see more name-brand items here. I scored this time with a wool coat from Janie and Jack for $25 and some Baby Gap items. I did wander out of my budget to pick up a few things for the boy, so I admit that I overspent by a bit.
Shop 2: I hit up a true thrift store for this one. Salt Lake has a bunch of stores that sell donated items and you never know what you might find. The downside is that the shopping company tends to be a bit vile. There are people who hang out all day to pounce on the carts as they come out so that they can resell the items and as a result the customers tend to be pushy and rude. Even so, the prices can’t be beat. I picked up all of these items for only a few dollars a piece (at most), including a plaid hooded cape imported from Dublin that makes Eva look like Red Riding Hood. I also picked up three adult-sized items that I’m going to refashion for Eva, so stay tuned for those DIY projects…
Shop 3: This was another secondhand store, this time located in a better neighborhood. I thought the change of surroundings would mean nicer items but I was surprised to find that it was actually the opposite. I did find a bunch of cute items, but nothing too fancy this time. Again, I picked up a couple of boy things but I also found some practical staples for Eva along with two pairs of shoes and a Minnie Mouse headband just for fun. I hit my budget almost on the nose at this store and ended up putting a few things back. Again, I’m lucky that Eva doesn’t really need clothes because it’s amazing how quickly they add up, even at secondhand prices.
Final thought: I’m very pleased with how much I got for $100, especially since I was able to pick up a winter coat and some nice boots before the snowy weather comes in (a strange thought in August). I did buy some extra things, including clothes for the boy, a couple of DVDs for the Morgan family, and a vintage Mickey Mouse lunchbox that was a steal at $10, so all told I probably spent about $130. I don’t feel like I sacrificed too much quality, but at the same time I didn’t find exactly everything that I was looking for and there were a few items that I couldn’t find in nice enough condition. For example, I really want to pick up a pair of black and white Converse for Eva and I found tons of pairs but they were all disgusting. That’s probably going to be a mall item, along with some fresh socks and hair clips.
Still, it’s fun that she’ll have one-of-a-kind stuff to start out the school year. I mean, seriously: what other preschooler is showing up to school with their lunch packed in this guy?