Savvy shopping

At any given moment, your child needs, loses or outgrows something. From kids' clothes to sporting equipment, most parents can't keep up with the "to buy" list — or the credit card bill. Here's how to save your time, money and sanity

Clothes

Gently does it For previously loved fashion finds — plus plenty of new stuff — check out these stores:

Kaleidoscope Kids
kaleidoscopekids.ca
For than a few shoppers have perused this upscale resale shop unaware the designer duds have been previously owned. Sign up for the online newsletter for coupons and special savings. There are shops located in both Port Credit and Toronto.

Mulberry Bush
themulberrybush.com
Take a trip to Pickering and discover brand name clothing for babies and kids through to demanding teens, in addition to maternity fashions. A wide assortment of baby equipment is also available. Can’t make it in? Shop their wares online.

Once Upon a Child
uoac.com
For great clothes, price and service, plus new items such as dancewear, buggies and baby gates, stop into one of these franchise locations. Beaches mom Julie Hughes has been shopping the Bayview store for five years: “They have a cordoned off play area for smaller kids…excellent while you shop.”

Play ‘N Wear
playnwear.com
A North Toronto institution, this store is always jam packed with terrific designer finds for babies, toddlers and older children. I’ve often lost my own kids in the racks, which they love rifling through. Find seasonal items such as Halloween costumes, holiday wear and sporting goods, plus maternity wear.

Precious Seconds
precious2nds.ca
The focus is on the whole family at this Richmond Hill consignment store. From children to teens to Mom AND Dad, they feature labels such as Banana Republic, Tommy Hilfiger and more. They have fantastic end of season sales with prices slashed up to 50%. Great one stop shopping at affordable prices for everyone.

New and noteworthy Have a budding “fashionista” in your family? These styling stores offer new looks but won’t break the bank:

Bonnie Togs
bonnietogs.com
A fancy sounding name doesn’t have to mean fancy prices. Wendy Alderdice, an Oakville mom of three young kids, loves its value and return policy: “They let you bring back anything, any time (no time restrictions) as long as you keep the receipt — even if the kid outgrows it before you remember to try it on them!”

ZARA
zara.com
Who better to wear a trend than someone you know is going to outgrow it in a season? “ZARA on sale is great,” describes Mississauga mom Rita Dias. “We picked up these incredibly cool winter jackets for (two-year-old) Max for just $20 each.”

Zero20
zero20bambini.com
Looking for something chic but affordable for that christening or bar mitzvah? This Woodbridge shop offers kids from size zero (newborn) up to size 20 (preteen) great European fashions for every fancy occasion.

Buy volume! If you have a house full of kids, like I do, you need to buy in bulk. But you don’t need to sacrifice style for affordability:

Costco
costco.ca
Costco members swear by the great deals they get on seasonal and trendy clothes for the whole family, but you need to shop in person. “The Costco snowsuits ($69 each) are a fabulous price and good quality for two tough boys,” says shopper Alison Bittle Fair from Mississauga.” A paid membership is required to shop at Costco.

H&M
hm.com/ca
This Swedish department store took Canada by storm a few years back with its reasonable prices and ultra hip adult and kid clothing lines plus accessories such as shoes, purses and belts. My nine-year-old daughter Bridget and her 16-year-old sister always find clothes they like at allowance-friendly prices.

Joe Fresh
joe.ca
What’s handier than picking up a new sleeper while doing your weekly grocery shop? Developed for and sold at Loblaws Superstores, Joe Fresh focuses on inexpensive and chic offerings. “ I love, love, love the Joe Fresh line,” squeals Nadine Hughes, Oakville mom of two young boys. “You don’t feel guilty buying pieces each season because the price is so good.”

Old Navy
oldnavy.com
Old Navy carries fun and inexpensive clothes “from babies to old ladies,” as my daughter Victoria describes it. If you’re good at guessing your kids’ sizes for next summer, the store’s end-of-season sales are ridiculous.

Sporting goods

Swap and shop Every season brings a new sport…and a new size for your pre-Olympian. Shop for your “home team” at these stores, where the hardly-used stuff comes in as fast as flies out:

Corbett’s Sports
corbetts.com
Every avid skier and snowboarder west of the city knows Corbetts — a busy Oakville hub whether the sun’s shining or snow’s falling. Buy new quality equipment, which you can trade in when your kids need a larger size, or wait for their “Ski Swap” for fantastic deals on slightly used equipment (Ski Swap dates are posted on the website).

Newson’s Sharpening & Skate Exchange
(416) 762-9976
Spring has finally sprung, which means it’s time to think about fall and winter skating lessons. Etobicoke’s Robynne Ostry, mom to Paige, age eight, and Peyton, age three, has taken advantage of this Toronto skate exchange for years: “This year we bought both girls’ figure skates, that are in good shape, for $58.”

Play It Again Sports
playitagainsports.com
Focusing on skates, hockey equipment, and, in some locations, ski and general athletic equipment, this store is a must for hockey parents everywhere. Before buying those tiny first hockey gloves, inquire whether there are any in the used section. Kids grow out of sporting equipment as quickly as they do clothing.

A final tip in making those clothing dollars stretch? Clean out your older children’s closets first for pass-down-worthy clothes and equipment. Or, make some trades with friends. You might just find a little left over in the budget for one of life’s real necessities… Mama always needs a new pair of shoes.

Recycling works!

Try it for yourself, here:

kijiji.com Free local classifieds on-line for everything under the sun

craigslist.com The ultimate online shopping source

ebay.ca Find vintage and new items

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