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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Baby Stuff - Where should I shop?

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Grocery Store / Lemonade Stand
Here are my favorite places to shop for stuff for baby:
Please remember that I live in the midwest, so there may be different options where you are.

I try not to shop at retail stores unless I really need something right away or am not able to find it used.
  • Babies R Us - I am actually pretty surprised at some of the deals that you can get here. I expected their prices to be higher than other places, but most (here is where your research comes in handy) items, if you need them new, are pretty comparable to other stores and sometimes even cheaper. I recommend this store if you are looking for something very specific because of their wide selection. Look at their sales racks and use their coupons as well.
  • JcPenny - Occasionally this store has some great sales for clothes. We also get a $10 off any purchase of $10 or more coupon (read free $10) that makes a trip out there to look worth it!
  • Kohls - I am luke warm about this store. I do shop there for myself when I need something and when my son absolutely needed some new sleepers (I totally underestimated the amount of newborn sized clothes he would need) I went here to get them. However, between the clothes I can get at a garage sales and what the grandmas buy him, I no longer have a need to buy him clothes.
  • Meijer - This store may be getting an unfair mention because I am there a lot more than any other store. However, they can sometimes have good sales on baby things as well. There is usually an end cap at our store that I try and swing by when I am there. Even if I don't need something there, the prices are sometimes so good I will get something to add to a baby gift for a friend.
  • Target - Target was one place that I was surprised to see that had many items that were much more expensive than other stores. However, they do have some good clearance items. I also LOVE their dollar spot for socks and educational items that have stocked up on. Most recently I bought a nice pair of dress shoes for $3 in their shoe aisle for my son.
  • Ikea - This is THE place to go to buy big baby things. My husband and I were just not at all crazy about the furniture we found elsewhere, especially at Babies R Us. The prices seemed insane as well. They have a great website, so it is easy to see if you want what they have before making the long journey there. You could also order online for most things, but I like to see things before I buy them. My trip to Ikea was not my best budget showing ever, but we only had an hour before they closed, so we make some impulse decisions.
    • We originally went to buy the Snigler crib, but it was not varnished and looked a bit dingier than the Gulliver crib. A huge price jump, but still pretty inexpensive compared to others. It has worked well for us other than the fact that I had to raise up up on block because we also picked out under bed storage boxes like these (ours are red and blue to match our nursery though) and only tested them under the Snigler. We also got our crib mattress from ikea and it was both cheaper and MUCH nicer than any of them we could find at babies R us. It is a good idea to buy your crib and mattress from the same brand so you make sure they fit snugly. Otherwise it could be a saftey hazard.
    • Other things we purchased at ikea were a potty, baby dishes (LOVE bibs with pockets!), Kids silverware, bowls, plates and cups. Another implus that we bought and now is just annoying to have around is this leaf. I am hoping we will find a use as he gets older.
    • I also bought a few Ikea bags for mom to mom sales and the are GREAT!
While you might find some great deals when buying used, the selection is not always the greatest. I have found that I will end up with way to many clothes in one size or clothes that, since I purchased them over a year ahead of time, don't quite fit in the proper season. However, I still think I come out quite a bit ahead by doing things this way, plus I am hoping that when my kids are grown, I will be able to easily sell them for what I paid for them.
  • Consignment shops - I have not had great luck with consignment shops. I find that their prices are usually higher than what I would pay at a garage/tag sale and the quality is the same. However, if brand names are important to you, this may be the way to go. They are also open year round wherease garage/tag sales only happen a few months out of the year in this area.
  • Goodwill - If my son needs some more clothes in his current size and there are not any sales coming up, Goodwill is usually the first place I will look. It is usually hit or miss though depending on how many goodwills I am willing to visit. Our stores around here usually put a $2 price on all baby clothes, so if you find something in new condition that is really cute, then you have a good deal, but if you are looking for onzies, $2 is a pretty bad deal. I have also not had a great luck finding anything other than clothes. I did find a very nice hiking backpack carrier that was marked for $5 there once, but they didn't want to sell it to me at the price it was marked. I was about 8.5 months pregnant at the time and pitched a fit, so I got it at that price though. I guess no one wants to mess with a very pregnant and very crabby woman.
  • Garage Sales - I LOVE garage sales. I have recently had to cut myself off from them for a time because I am pretty sure my son is set for the next year of his life. He simply does not need anything else right now. Again, these can be hit or miss. There are times when I will spend a whole Saturday driving around and find nothing but houses with garages full of christmas items and bras purchased in 1945 for sale. However, some Saturdays I will come home with an Ikea bag (a must have for sale shopping) full of things for only $10 total. I think it is the rush of finding something you need and can use for pennies on the dollar.
    • My favorite garage sale story every is from my neighbor. She went to a house that had a complete bedroom set: Crib, mattress, changing table, dresser and bedding, all in excellent condition. She asked the lady how much she wanted for it and she said $20. My neighbor replied that she was interested in all of it, not just once piece. The lady repeated that $20 was what she wanted for everything, she was just happy to get rid of it. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?
  • Mom 2 Mom sales - I saved the best for last on this one! Mom 2 mom sales are a pretty new thing. They are typically hosted by churches or schools, but some have grown to fill stadiums. They usually charge ~$20 for moms to bring their used baby/child/mom items to sell and ~$1 for other moms to come in and see what is available. The great thing about these is that you are not driving around a city looking for sales and you definately will not find any garages full of christmas decorations or bras from 1945. I would say that most of his clothes, toys and other things such as his bumbo seat that I have purchased have been from Mom 2 Mom sales. Quite often, you can can also find things that still have the tag on them, so you can give them to other moms as gifts.
Tips for saving even more:
  • Bring small bills. You can often grab a few items and offer a reduced price for everything together. Holding out exact change for your offer can make it hard for the seller to pass up.
  • Go at the end of the day if you don't need anything specific. Go to the sales in the last hour of their posted opening times. Many sellers will offer drastically reduced prices or an offer their items 50% off their originally marked prices.
  • If you do need something specific, you may need to get there up to an hour before they open to be in the front of the line. Ask if they have a large item room and where it is and head there first if you are looking for a large item to get the best selection.
Quiz time: What are 3 things you need to bring with you when going to a mom 2 mom or garage sale??


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