It seems we have barely car-pooled the kids to camp, slapped on the sunscreen, and settled down on the dock with a good book (or Kindle…) when our fleeting Canadian summer suddenly announces it’s already over. The bombardment known as “Back To School” advertising often begins in mid-July and for parents on a budget, thinking about the costs associated can instantly put a damper on a summer sojourn.
What usually takes a big chunk out of most families back to school budget is clothing, and true deals are often hard to find. Here are some smart strategies for easy sartorial savings this September…including a few that won’t even make you leave the dock.
Few places offer more selection at lower prices than online auction sites such as EBay. Often you can find sellers offering entire lots of clothing, up to 20, 30, even 50 pieces of brand name, new and/or gently used clothing. For time-strapped parents searching wisely on these sites can save you valuable time as you try to save money.
“I recommend first looking at EBay.ca,” recommends Dorvan Millayev, owner of Annex Drop Off, which helps people sell their items on the Internet through online auction portals. “This helps you narrow down your search to anyone either on EBay.ca or EBay.com who is willing to ship to Canada. Then focus your search further by specifying size, colour and brand,” Millayev says.
If you simply type in “boys clothing 6x in the search window you may end up searching through hundreds of pages of separate categories of shoes, backpacks, shirts, jackets and pants.
Once you’ve found something you want to buy be sure to calculate all costs for purchase including converting the exchange rate, adding on duty, and shipping fees. Lastly, “Check the sellers return policy,” instructs Millayev. “EBay recently required all sellers to clearly outline what their return policy is – do they accept returns at all, and if so, is it refund or exchange.”
In Vogue (On a Budget)
For parents on the hunt for discounts there are increasing numbers of “gently used” stores that buy used clothing and offer current styles for the newborn to 14X age groups.
“Our associates are well-versed in children’s clothing, even to the point where we know when a brand name retailer such as Gap Kids, or Children’s Place have changed their tags in a season, so we know how current a clothing item is,” explains Becky Nusca, an associate at Once Upon A Child in Hamilton, Ont., a retailer found in many provinces across the country which buys and sells new and gently used products for the 0-14 age group.
“A sweater that may have retailed for $24.99, in excellent condition, will be for sale between $4.50 to $9.50 at one of our stores,” says Nusca.
For those really organized parents, knowing when these stores have their sales can mean even further savings on already low prices.
“We start cleaning out our spring and summer stock in July to make way for fall and winter. In December, we start clearing out our winter stock to prepare for spring and summer,” Nusca details. The key is to buy classic pieces like jeans, basic T-shirts and sweaters for next season and you’ll find you won’t need to spend as much updating your child’s wardrobe the following school year.
The Art of the Deal
No respecting bargain-hunting parent would admit it, but sometimes seeking out a good deal is a lot harder than just giving in and paying full price at a department store. That’s why sites such as RedFlagDeals.com, BargainMoose.ca or SmartCanucks.ca have become so popular.
These sites are bargain aggregators, providing lists of retailer sales offerings (both in-store and online) in every category from clothing to cars to computers.
“We take the information on retailer sales wherever we can get it,” explains Derek Szeto, president of RedFlagDeals.com which is currently promoting sales at stores like Gap, Guess, Bluenotes, Lululemon and North Face.
“We have full-time staff whose primary role is to find out about sales and promote them on our site. Almost as important is our rabid online community that constantly shares information on upcoming sales and events.”
Retailers will often offer coupons for additional in-store or online shopping on these aggregator sites, and by getting advance information on upcoming sales, you have a greater chance at getting the size and/or color you know your teen will want.