We love shopping at thrift stores and getting great bargains for our family’s frugal lifestyle. Shopping with children brings it’s own challenges and rewards. Let’s talk about some tips that have worked for me.
One thing I love about taking my children shopping is that it gives them a sense of the value of a dollar. They have learned to recognize that their money goes much further at a thrift store than a retail store. They are able to buy very nice gifts for their family and friends at a fraction of the price of regular stores. This brings them so much more joy knowing that they can use their own money to give to others that they love.
I schedule shopping breaks to give my children something to look forward to. I’ll let them know that once I’m finished looking at a certain section then we’ll go visit the toys or books for a while. I don’t give time limits because all the kids don’t have a concept of time. They are able to wait more patiently when they know that there is a free time break afterward.
Try Before You Buy
Thrift stores offer the unique experience of seeing how your child likes a toy before you buy it. I watch which toys my kids gravitate toward and make note of the types of playthings they enjoy. This helps me purchase toys (used or new) that I know they’ll like and play with. When the children walk past and ignore a toy that I thought they would be ecstatic about, that turns out to be invaluable market research.
Entertainment on the Road
When the children are still in the stroller and cart, I will usually travel to the toy section first thing upon arrival. I’ll choose a toy that they can play with while they’re safely strapped in. I let the child take the item with us as we browse the boring, grown-up areas. Then I’ll intermittently go back to the toy section to put that toy back and get a different item for the next leg of the trip. This not only keeps the child occupied but also helps reinforce the idea that we’re not buying everything we touch. We can shop and touch and play and browse without purchasing a thing and even have fun in the process.
I Can See Your Toes
When the kids are very young I always take them in the dressing room with me. However, when they are older and the dressing rooms are smaller, I have them stand right outside the door and put one of their feet right under the opening at the bottom. If at any point, I can’t account for all the feet, I immediately come out and address the issue. After a while, it can get to looking like a crazy game of twister, but I really like the visual assurance that my kids are present and safe.
Out of Harm’s Way
I usually try to keep young children in a stroller or cart until they can be reasonably obedient. After that we practice not touching things in the clothing section. We progress to more difficult challenges like coming away from the toys when called and placing books neatly back on the shelf. I generally avoid the glass and breakables aisles until the kids are excellent at not touching or they can pay for broken items themselves.
What are your best tips for shopping thrift stores with kids? I’d love to hear what works for you! Please leave a comment below.