I think for many new parents, there’s an initial sense of delight at the idea of buying showroom-fresh gear and sparkling new clothes for that little peanut. It’s an understandable instinct, really — new, untouched baby gets new, untouched stuff. But in my experience? That thrill wears off very, very quickly (like, basically the time your kid blows out his first outfit, or barfs in that showroom-fresh swing), and it’s replaced by thrill of the hunt. Where can you get the cutest, most useful, high-quality stuff for the least amount of cash?
Here, some answers. Between a handful of amazing annual sales, a few helpful online resources and some excellent brick-and-mortar consignment shops in this city, there are dozens of places to find solid, squee-worthy secondhand goods for kids and babies in Philly. You’ll never want to pay retail at a big box store again.
The Nesting House: There are four locations of this famously well-stocked local chain (Mount Airy, West Philly, Collingswood and — most recently, after a merger with another favorite, Cloth — South Philly). All are worth the trip. You’ll find a nicely edited selection of new things for babies and kids (clothes, toys, cloth diapers, feeding supplies) as well as a ton of consigned stuff (shoes, clothes, cloth diapering materials, toys, books, strollers, bouncies, swings, carriers — the whole deal), all neatly organized and displayed. Helpful employees, too.
Greene Street: This locally owned chain of consignment stores has nine outposts scattered throughout the city, ‘burbs and New Jersey, but the women’s store in Chestnut Hill is the only one with kids stuff — and it’s a small but extremely well-vetted selection of only the most sought-after brands of clothes and accessories. (Think Oilily, Young Versace, Petit Bateau, Lilly Pulitzer.)
This longtime Manayunk go-to focuses on gently used clothing and accessories for newborns on up through tweens. In terms of brands, you can find everything from Gap to Tea Collection to Crewcuts to Burberry (with a nice selection of dress clothes, it should be noted!) — and there’s a maternity section for mamas, as well, which is nice because the only thing more painful than spending a fortune on a sweater your kid will wear three times is spending a fortune on a dress you’ll wear three times.
CityKids Consignment Sale: This bi-annual sale is one of (well, two of) the biggest shopping events of the year … and we’re pretty much obsessed with it. It’s less a consignment sale than it is an (organized) explosion of clothes, toys, books, shoes, strollers, bikes, Halloween costumes, carriers, high chairs, and just about every other thing you need at any point if you happen to have a kid. The sale is held at a South Philly high school two weekends a year (once in spring, once in fall); all proceeds benefit Lilypad, the popular South Philly parenting center. The next CityKids sale is October 14 and 15 — you’ll want to plan to get there when the doors open.
Regional sales: It’s also worth noting that the Philly branch of the Mommy Poppins website tends to offer seasonal lists of consignment sales that pop up all around the region, if weekend sale-hunting is your jam.
The Buy Nothing Facebook Groups. There are several local chapters of the national “Buy Nothing” movement, which encourages members to post photos of things they’re giving away for free, in hopes that neighbors will claim them. We’ve seen everything from furniture to gas grills to Maclaren strollers to gently used toys in local groups — some truly quality stuff, and all of it totally FREE. You need only search through Facebook for the one closest to you (there are groups in Bella Vista, Fairmount, the river wards, Grad Ho and Roxborough, to name a few), then request permission to join.
The Listservs: Chances are very (very!) good that you already know this. But for the uninitiated: The biggie in Philadelphia in terms of listservs is the very popular Pennsymoms group, which is essentially open to every parent in greater Center City. But there are also handfuls of hyperlocal listservs in neighborhoods around the city — Queen Village Kids, Kids South of Washington, Fairmount, Clark Park Tot Lot, for starters — and each is a wonderful forum for members to buy, sell and trade. Because they’re aimed at parents, the vast majority of the gear for sale or for grabs is kids’ stuff. (We’ve snagged umbrella strollers, Ergos, year-old car seats, high chairs, balance bikes, and more!) Want to find your local listserv? Search Google Groups and Yahoo Groups for groups in your neighborhood. Once you find the listserv, you’ll most likely have to request permission to join, and then a facilitator will hook you up. It’s easily some of the best secondhand shopping for kids that you’ll find in Philly.