School uniform shopping can take a serious toll on a parent's wallet. However, searching through the inventory at local thrift stores operated by charitable organizations for the shirts, shorts, pants or skirts that someone else's child may have outgrown, but is still perfectly useable, could make the pain much more tolerable.


The popularity of recycling, bargain hunting, and internet sites like Ebay has increased the choices you have and the acceptance of shopping at places like Goodwill or CARC Treasure Chest. There are even a few independent thrift stores operated by local churches that offer a good variety. And, let's face it, even if you find two or three pieces to expand your child's school wardrobe, it helps when he or she rips a shirt or blows a hole in the knee of a pair of pants.

I recently asked my Facebook friends how many uniforms they like to buy for each child to start the school year. The overwhelming answer was five tops and five bottoms (whether that was shorts, pants, skirts, or a combination of those). Depending on where you shop or what brand you buy, outfitting ONE child could cost between $150 and $300 if you buy them all brand new in a regular department store!

I am, and have been, a thrift store shopper for nearly 20 years. I often find brand new items


with the tags still on them. Several of the items they have available at thrift stores, even the children's clothing including uniforms, are in perfectly acceptable condition.

And here's a tip from a "thrifty pro:" If you don't find what you need this week, go back again. Inventory at thrift stores turns over quickly, and they get new inventory in daily. Chances are, you may find what you need on your next visit or at a different location, if that particular store has multiple locations.

You may want to consider visiting a local thrift store that benefits one of these charities as you head out to buy those uniforms. Even if you buy a couple or three of them new, you can at least expand that wardrobe with the gently used ones you will find and save yourself some money. I guarantee the organizations that benefit from your purchases will be most appreciative.


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