Saturday, July 17, 2010

Togs for tots

My weekly Tip Hero newsletter just alerted me to a new online service called ThredUP. (Yeah, goofy name, but stay with me here.) It's a sort of clothing swap, like I discussed in my May 5 entry, but it's specifically for children. As I've noted in the past, secondhand clothes make a lot of sense for children, because still-growing kids outgrow clothes while they've still got plenty of life left in them. For parents with several kids, "handing down" clothes to younger siblings is so commonplace that most parents probably don't even think of these clothes as "used." But only children, or kids with no same-sex siblings, pose more of a problem. Parents may have to hunt through ill-organized piles at yard sales and thrift shops to outfit the little nippers.

The idea behind ThredUP is that you pick out a box of clothes suitable for your kids and exchange it for a box of your own used but serviceable items. Your only cost is a flat $13 for shipping (which, as the site notes, works out to around $1 per garment). Because you're going through a middleman—the ThredUP site—you don't have to match yourself up with a specific person who both has what you need and needs what you have. The site serves as a marketplace to get the goods to those who can use them.

Now, $13 a box for kids' clothes may not be the absolute lowest price you could pay. Hand-me-downs (from siblings, other relatives, or friends and neighbors) are obviously cheaper, and yard sales and rummage sales might also—with a little diligent searching—yield clothes in good condition for less than $1 per item. But when you factor in both cost and convenience, ThredUP looks like a pretty good deal for busy parents. And, of course, since it means less production and less waste, it's a good deal for the environment as well. (And I wouldn't worry about the impact on the economy of reusing clothes instead of buying new ones. Except for the really high-end stuff, it's mostly made overseas anyway.)
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