Where to Shop for an Inexpensive Back to School Wardrobe

September 8, 2009 by sarahheller  
Published in Family

It is estimated that a typical American family will spend about $500 per child during the back-to-school season. Between $400 and $450 of this will go to new clothes and shoes. If you are the parent of multiple children, the amount you can spend on back to school shopping can quickly add up. To reduce the cost, try a few of these places…

It is estimated that a typical American family will spend about $500 per child during the back-to-school season.  Between $400 and $450 of this will go to new clothes and shoes.  If you are the parent of multiple children, the amount you can spend on back to school shopping can quickly add up.  To reduce the cost, try a few of these places:

Consignment Shops 

These are usually privately owned and the clothes are typically in better condition than thrift stores.  Consignment stores take clothes from people looking to make a bit of money, so they can be pickier about what they take.  These stores usually don’t take anything that is torn or stained, and some stores (usually in wealthier neighborhoods) refuse to take anything that isn’t brand name.  Because of this, it is usually easier to get image-conscious kids and teenagers to accept getting “used” clothes.  If your child complains, point out that a lot of the clothes in these shops were never worn (and point out the department store price tags on some of the clothes to prove it).

Larger Mall Department Stores

  A lot of teenagers and tweens don’t shop at these kind of stores when they’re at the mall on their own, but stores like Sears and JC Penneys usually run great sales In early August.  Stores in less-wealthy parts of town typically get the stuff from last year and in order to get rid of it they will mark it down 75% or more.  Look for coupons in the mail or on-line that give a dollar or percentage amount off when you buy a certain amount, and stock up on basics like jeans, shoes, and t-shirts that don’t go out of style.

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Mass Merchandisers 

In anticipation of back-to-school season, stores like Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and Target will stock a lot of clothes in their kids and juniors departments.  In order to get customers in the door, these stores will typically mark down school supplies, but keep the prices on their clothing higher in the hope that customers will be lulled into the convenience of one-stop shopping.  If you buy the essentials from other stores, though, and wait until October, these clothes will be marked down considerably in order to make room for Christmas items.

Other Kids’ Closets

  While this isn’t shopping, per se, encourage your teenagers to get creative with clothes swapping and sharing.  A budding fashion designer can experiment with things he or she already has in his or her closet by adding a few notions from the local fabric store or by lengthening or shortening hemlines.  Most other parents are probably looking to save in this area, so convincing them to encourage their kids to share shouldn’t be too hard.  For elementary-aged kids, look into clothes swapping programs at local flea markets and churches.  These programs typically let parents drop off a box of their child’s outgrown clothing and pick up a box from someone else in their child’s size.

Finding good clothes for kids to go back to school shouldn’t be too difficult or too expensive.  The key is to start planning early and look for deals off-season.  

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