Buying Used

In our world where we are over saturated with advertising about all the new stuff we need to buy it can be hard to keep an honest perspective between wants and needs. Society makes you feel that if you don’t have all the newest gear, gadgets, or toys you are old fashioned or ill-equipped for life.

I try to teach my son that stuff doesn’t matter or make you better than anyone else. Buying used is one way I am trying to show him that you either get tired of your stuff, it breaks, or you outgrow it. There is nothing wrong with purchasing items brand new, but I am also trying to be financially responsible as well as teach my son that you can find good deals on certain things and it’s okay if someone else wore a shirt before you did. For us, buying him used clothing has been a huge savings. He’s almost 3 years old so it’s very easy to purchase used items for him without any complaints, but I think it’s a good foundation to start building on. There are a lot of options available for purchasing used goods. The most common thing you’ll find used available for purchase is clothing, but toys, books, home goods, furniture, craft supplies, and outdoor play equipment are also very common. I have listed a few different places that I’ve purchased used items from and tips to go along with each type of sale.

Church Rummage Sales

These are really fun for me because I’m a long-time lover of garage sales and the random stuff for sale that you probably can’t find in a retail store. Typically, the sale is set up like a garage sale with each item priced separately. Sometimes you can pay extra to get into the sale early. On the last day of the sale, which is my favorite day to go, you pay $3-5 to fill a brown paper grocery bag with all your treasures. These are great for baby items, children’s clothing, home goods, dishes and books. The bonus for these types of sales is that not only are you getting great deals on items, but also you are giving back to the community because the church will use your payment, most often for missions. In my opinion, it’s a win-win situation. My favorite rummage sale is at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church on Romeo Road, in Rochester. Not only are the workers super helpful and friendly (they often help me carry my stuff to my car) but also the sale is nicely organized. I always leave happy with my finds. St. Paul’s has two rummage sales per year, one in the spring and one in the fall. Their fall sale will be Friday, October 5 and Saturday, October 6, 2012.

Garage Sales

Of course garage sales are great places to find deals as well. The residents downtown will often host garage sales anytime there is a summer festival or event so keep your eyes open! Try to target areas that are having subdivision sales to save yourself time and gas from driving all over town hunting down a garage sale. I try to bring my own bag or box to keep my stuff in until I get home. If you’re looking for a specific item you can save time by asking right away if the seller has the particular item. It’s usually helpful to carry small bills and change.

Craig’s List

Craig’s List is a great place to find used products. I have found a lot of great deals on outdoor climbing equipment, toys, and home furnishings. My experiences with Craig’s List have been very positive, but of course you can never be too careful. Avoid going to someone’s home, if you can. When this is unavoidable, take someone with you and let an additional person know where you’ll be. I often meet people in Target’s parking lot during the day. Always ask for pictures of the item you’re purchasing and make sure they are real pictures, not just copied and pasted from a website. You want to be able to see the item as much as possible before you take time to meet up and purchase it. Also consider how far you have to drive to meet the seller. You don’t want all your savings eaten up in gas cost and the value of your time.

Mom-to-Mom Sales

I absolutely love Mom-to-Mom sales! A lot of churches, schools and other organizations host them to raise money. Each mom who is selling items will purchase a table or booth from the host. That money goes toward the fundraiser. Then, each customer pays the selling mom for the individual items. It’s another win-win situation. You speak with each seller directly so if you feel an item is priced too high you may be able to change it. Mom-to-Mom sales are open for one day, usually a Saturday. You can pay a little extra, typically $1-2, to get in early. I highly recommend this! I bring my own plastic shopping bag and try to be in line about 20-30 minutes before opening time. This ensures you get the best selection and beat the crowd. I don’t recommend taking a stroller because it does get crowded but I’ve done it before and we survived. There will be a space for large items, such as outdoor play equipment, cribs, high chairs, bikes, etc, that are separate from smaller toys and clothing. In the large item room you pay at one table or counter and the money is marked specifically for the seller. For smaller items and clothing you will pay directly to the mom.

Here is a great website that lists upcoming sales: When checking this list note that under the opening times will be another time listed with the letters ‘eb’ next to it. This means early buyer and that is when they will let you in earlier for an additional charge. Some Mom-to-Mom sales restrict the use of strollers until a certain time as well. This specification and early buyer price is listed in the very right hand column. You know you have a good sale if under the Table Rental column it says “SOLD OUT”. This means it’s a popular sale (for sellers and buyers) and the whole place will be filled with merchandise.

Free Clothes Swap

When I was first introduced to a free clothing swap I was very skeptical. I thought to myself, “Seriously? It’s free? How can it be free?” It is free. Seriously. This is how it works: you can bring clothes to donate and the host of the swap (usually a church or school) will put them in the designated areas for gender and size. You then go and choose new clothing that you need. I was nervous for my first swap because my son is still young and we’re planning on having more children so I didn’t have much to donate. I did bring the clothes that I didn’t particularly like or the ones my son didn’t like. However, it was only a handful of items and I still felt a little guilty taking new clothing. But I was reassured that it was fine and once my son does outgrow his clothing then I can donate that in the future. At some point I will ‘pay it forward’. It’s that simple so don’t feel guilty if you don’t have much to contribute. There are some teen and adult sizes but mostly children’s clothing. My church, Faith Presbyterian on Hamlin Road, hosts one every fall. This year it will be September 22nd, so mark your calendars!

The Funky Frog

I cannot forget to mention The Funky Frog. It’s a super cute children’s boutique filled with used children’s items. The clothing is all name brand and in great condition. It’s also a good place for used toys, pack n’ plays, sporting goods and books. They just relocated to 433 South Main Street, right next to Green Baby and WHOO U R (which is another great resale shop). Just look for their new bright pink sign!

I hope that you can find some great deals this month as you’re gearing up for back-to-school season. There are great opportunities to save a few bucks while helping out someone else.

About Meghan Zeile

Mom-in-the-know and local writer for Rochester Media. Always looking for tips with kids, family life, and fun local adventures. Contact at

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