Our comprehensive guide to discount stores, consignment and resale shops, thrift stores and retail chains.
Mon Apr 20 2009
Photographs: Caroline Voagen Nelson
When I was growing up, my frugal Midwestern mom had three rules about kids’ clothes:
(1) Make do with what you have.
(2) Hand-me-downs are new to you.
(3) Only a sucker pays full price.
Despite her penny-pinching penchant, my mother wanted us to look good, so she lined up a chain of quality hand-me-downs from families with older kids, mapped out the best neighborhoods for fancy yard sales and became the consummate stylish-bargain hunter. I used to think my mom was a cheapskate. Now, with a five-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son to dress during the global recession, I’ve adopted her fashion mantras as my own.
New York City parents have plenty of cheap-and-chic options: For all the upscale department stores and pricey Madison Avenue children’s boutiques, you can find an equal number of world-famous discount shops, resale stores and inexpensive retail chains. But you have to put in the time to get the goods. Don’t expect one-stop shopping to see you through a season; rather, be prepared for an ongoing scavenger hunt.
There’s a science to scoring deals. Start by casting a wide net until you’ve scouted out the shops that best suit your taste. (Hint: You’ll find more hipster attire at a consignment store in Clinton Hill and more Hanna Andersson at one in Park Slope.) Then, return often. What’s on the racks at discounters and thrift stores is constantly changing. Finally, think—and buy—ahead. If you see a great pair of resale Oilily pants for $10 that are two sizes too big for your daughter, snap them up (just don’t forget about your stash when she eventually grows into it). By the same token, end-of-season clearance sales are a great opportunity to stock up on essentials for next year.
Against my better judgment, I’m making public my comprehensive recession-buster shopping guide for the five boroughs.
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