Got multiples? Then you've got plenty of "stuff!" When you have twins, triplets or higher order multiples, you've got at least double the amount of baby clothing, supplies and equipment. Baby "stuff" has a very short lifespan. During the few short months of use, it is absolutely invaluable; however, soon enough you'll need to replace the infant clothing, bouncy seats and teething toys with toddler outfits, ride-on toys and board books.
While some lucky families may have the financial resources or unlimited storage space to buy everything new, most will consider buying or selling gently used items as their babies' needs change.
If you're buying --
Here are somethings to consider if you are buying gently used baby items:
* Club Sales
Start with your local parents of multiples club. Most plan annual or semi-annual sales that are a goldmine for other parents. With at least twice as much to unload, they're an excellent source of quality items. Between events, some organizations also provide an opportunity for members to buy and sell items, either through newsletter advertising, a website, or word-of-mouth. They've got it, you need it.
* Secondhand Stores
Consignment shops and thrift stores are another good source for used baby items. Thrift stores, with donated goods, are often run by nonprofit agencies. Consignment shops sell goods for a fee and return part of the profit to the seller.
They usually offer much higher quality merchandise, with prices to match, and are a good option for finding "nearly new" items. If you are looking to save some pennies, and aren't terribly concerned about the condition of items, a thrift sore is a better option.
* Online Options
With the internet, you can shop for everything without leaving your home.
Online buying is particularly convenient for parents of multiples who are housebound, perhaps due to pregnancy bedrest or the early chaos of multiple infants. Auction sites such as Ebay.com have plenty of goods to offer. For larger items, shipping charges may negate bargain prices, but lucky -- or diligent -- bidders sometimes locate an item available for pickup in their hometown. If you're new to online auctions, it pays to do some research before making a bid. Stop by the Net for Beginners site on About.com for tips and how-to's. Avoid shipping charges by seeking out swap sites with local offerings, such as Craigslist or Facebook groups.
No matter where you purchase used items, there are some basic guidelines when purchasing secondhand.
- Do your research. Know what you'd pay to buy new, so that you can judge whether a secondhand version is still a good value.
- Don't compromise safety. Check used toys and clothing for loosened pieces that could be a choking hazard. Some items, like cribs, car seats and some strollers, are best purchased new and guaranteed by the manufacturer. Stay updated about product recalls and avoid items that have been associated with problems.
- Do be choosy.
A bargain isn't a bargain if you can't use the item once you get it home. Examine clothing for tears, stains and wear. Surface wear should be expected on toys and plastic equipment but beware of cracks or dents.
- But don't be too picky. It's not crucial to have matching fabric on your twins' high chairs. As babies, they don't know the difference. However, as they get old enough to develop -- and express -- their personal preferences, you may want to give more consideration to buying exact duplicates of toys and other choice items to avoid competition and squabbling.
With at least twice the amount of baby clothing, equipment and supplies, parents of multiples know space is at a premium. Once your babies' goodies have outlived their usefulness, it's time to move it out to make room for the next generation of stuff. While you can always donate items to clear out the clutter, the most you can expect in return is a tax break. To pad your piggy bank, you'll have to sell it.
Multiples Club Sales
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to turn over your excess goodies is through a local multiples club sale. If you can wait for these annual or semi-annual events, you can turn a huge profit, often with minimal outlay of money or effort. The sales draw huge crowds of people in the market for exactly what you're selling. In many cases, the club will take care of donating or disposing of any items that you don't want after the sale concludes.
Some clubs charge a nominal fee to sellers, or require sellers to volunteer at the sale. Be sure to find out how the proceeds of the sale are allocated; you may have to wait a few days to reap the profit from your sold items.
Selling It Yourself
If you can't wait for an organized sale, you can host your own garage or yard sale. It requires some extra time and effort on your part, things that are often in short supply for parents of multiples.
Consider teaming up with neighbors for a community yard sale to share the burden.
Larger, more expensive items can often be successfully sold through person-to-person transactions. Check Facebook; many communities have online swaps and sales where you can list items for sale. Craigslist.com will also help you reach buyers in your area.
Advertise in the classified section of your local paper or a community "swap sheet." Or, make a card or flyer to display in a high-traffic area where parents congregate. Many community centers have a bulletin board for this purpose.
Selling on consignment is a great way to achieve a good return on expensive items, such as fancy clothing or pricey baby equipment. Be aware that the consignment shop will keep a portion of the sales price for their effort. Many shops are picky about what they will accept, choosing only those items that they know will readily sell. Be sure to check store policies; in some cases, the store will pay upfront when they receive your goods, but usually you don't get paid until the stuff sells. Some stores automatically mark down or dispose of items that are left on the shelf after a period of time; check out your options in advance if you want unsold merchandise returned to you.
Tips for Successful Selling:
- Do: Take the time to spiff up your stuff. Clean and iron clothing or fabric items. Wash or wipe down toys and plastic surfaces. Use child-size hangers to display clothing. The better it looks, the faster it will sell at a good price.
- Do: Clearly mark items. Use labels to indicate size, price and a description of the item.
- Do: Price items carefully. Your buyers are looking for bargains. What would sell for $1.00 might get overlooked if priced at $2.00. Ask yourself whether it's worth the extra dollar to take it back home and store it. A good guideline is to price used goods at 1/3 - 1/2 of their original cost. If something is brand new, say so, and leave the tags on.
- Don't: Give things away if you're not desperate. If you have an item of particularly high quality, seek out alternative ways to sell it. A private sale or consignment will net you more money for heirlooms and expensive goods.
Looking to buy secondhand? Read on for tips for Buying Gently Used Baby Stuff for Multiples.