Long before Macklemore rocked “Thrift Shop,” I — like many smart Puget Sound moms — was saving money by shopping thrift, consignment and resale stores. If you cringe at the prices of maternity clothes and baby gear or are looking for deals on great toys, sports equipment or clothing for a teen fashionista, here are nine stores on the Eastside where you can teach your kids how to save some green while living green. Plus, a tutorial on the Buy Nothing revolution and how to leverage it for community, the environment and fun.
Swoon-worthy fashion and toys in Bellevue
Take your kids to Bellevue Square to play, then drive a few blocks east to Hopscotch, where you’ll find the same brands as at the mall, at much better prices.
Steals and deals: Children's Splendid, Mini Boden and Tea Collection for as little as $8; 7 for All Mankind maternity for as little as $45; Pea in the Pod for as little as $10; Children's True Religion and North Face for as little as $15–$20; Gymboree, Gap, Janie and Jack, and Hanna Andersson for as little as $5.
Parent snaps: A super-clean and well-organized store, with stroller-friendly wide aisles and easy parking right out front. The two moms who own the store have great taste and score everything from on-trend maternity clothing to this year’s must-have strollers.
Kid snaps: The store offers a selection of great toys and books for kids of all ages including Breyer horses, play kitchens and Melissa & Doug educational toys.
Insider tip: Like the Facebook page to hear about upcoming special sales and see the latest deals.
Fashion, toys and books, plus fabulous handmade shower gifts and activity kits
At Little Quadoo, you'll find great deals on clothes, toys, baby gear and books. But there's more: The store owner is passionate about green living and supporting local artists. Tired of plastic bags for lunch sandwiches and snacks? Check out the store’s line of cotton, washable snack bags with water-resistant liners. And this is the perfect place to get a baby shower gift, including a basket of handmade essential baby gear for $40.
Steals and deals: Most items are a just $1–$10, with Baby Gap brand for as low as $1.99 and Janie and Jack as low as $2.99.
Parent snaps: Changing table in the bathroom and stroller-wide aisles with parking in front of the store. Consigning is easy, too: You can bring up to 10 items any time during business hours up until one hour before they close, or up to 35 items if you have an appointment.
Kid snaps: Find a great assortment of wooden toys and “brain-building” science kits and puzzles. If there is a car or plane trip in your future, check out the handmade travel kits for kids, with paper and crayon or chalk and soft chalkboard. Kids also love the “kid-sized” superhero capes that can be custom made in any size from infant to adult.
Insider tip: Like the store’s Facebook page so you’ll know the date of the next quarterly 50-cent sale; stock up on your child’s next size up.
For Redmond’s trendy tots
If you are a stylish mom who has never ventured into a thrift or consignment store, this is the store for you. Located in downtown Redmond, Majesty feels like a high-end boutique — but the kids are the royalty. The store has a big selection of designer brands including maternity wear, gorgeous kid special-occasion dresses for weddings and holidays, great stroller selection and other baby equipment, as well as furniture and toys. All equipment is recall-checked, cleaned and “test driven” before they go out on the store floor.
Steals and deals: Popular brands such as Baby Gap and Gymboree start $3.49; Janie and Jack at $5.79; Gap maternity jeans at $22.49; and high-end maternity jeans such as 7 for All Mankind at $34.79. Bedding starts at $4.29. Strollers start at $54.99 and car seats at $29.99.
Parent snaps: Super-clean restroom with changing table. Majesty also offers a nursing area and the maternity section includes slings and nursing covers.
Kid snaps: Little kids enjoy playing with toys in a dedicated play area where you can still keep an eye on them while you shop.
Insider tip: The store offers a “wish-list” service if you are hunting for a particular stroller or crib.
Tween and teen stylish deals in Bellevue
Plato’s Closet, located in the Highland Park shopping center in the Overlake area of Bellevue, is a dream come true for a stylish tween and teen. Find the same on-trend clothes, shoes and accessories teens love for up to 70 percent off the retail price. Inventory changes every day. Families heading for somewhere warm on school breaks appreciate that the store carries all seasons year-round, from heavy coats to shorts.
Steals and deals: The store has the brands that tweens and teens want, including True Religion jeans for $55–$65, Ugg Boots for $50–$60 or less, Free People brand tops for $20 and less and Pink by Victoria’s Secret Yoga Pants for $16.
Parent snaps: I love shopping here with my teens because of the “mom lounge,” comfy chairs with current magazines right across from the changing rooms.
Tween and teen snaps: The store staff are young fashionistas who are great at helping customers find exactly what they want to wear and suggesting what else might work for that customer’s size, style preferences and budget.
Insider tip: Get a “frequent shopper” card. It gets stamped for every $10 you buy or sell and once it is full you get 20 percent off your total purchase. Teens can also join the “text club” to receive promotions — instructions on the website or at the store.
Info: 14125 NE 20th St, Bellevue, WA 98007 | 425-603-9494
Deals for sporty Eastside families in Woodinville
Sporty kids outgrow their bikes and snowboards quickly. Luckily, Play It Again Sports, which also has locations in Renton, Lynnwood and Seattle, offers deals on all the sports equipment your kid needs, including new and gently used bikes, snowboards, bats, soccer balls and helmets.
Steals and deals: Atomic Race 6 Jr. ski/binding for $69; La Jolla Jr. golf set of clubs and bag for $49; and a Gary Fisher 7 speed 20-inch mountain bike for $79.
Parent and kid snaps: The staff love playing sports and you can always find someone to explain what your daughter needs to play lacrosse or make sure your son’s new bike helmet fits properly.
Insider tip: The parking lot is often full on weekends so try to get to the store during the week. With the money you save, you can hit mom garden heaven, aka Molbak's, just down the street.
Bargains galore in north Bothell
Located in a former house in Thrasher’s Corner, Saturday’s Child is packed with bargains, with many items going for just $1.
Steals and deals: Find low prices on gear such as a Jeep Liberty limited jogging stroller for just $99, a Graco swing for just $50 and “pack-and-play” Graco bassinet for $33. The store also offers 15 percent discounts to grandparents, anyone who works for a school district, first responders including police officers, parents who have adopted children, active or retired military service members and Native Americans.
Parent snaps: The store owner is the mom of five kids ranging from baby to teen, making this a great store for the whole family to shop. There are rooms of clothes for infants, toddlers, kids, teens to adults in a range of sizes, plus maternity.
Kid snaps: Kids like the “movie corner” where they can sit and watch a kid-pleasing video while parents shop.
Insider tip: Like the Facebook page to learn about upcoming “door-buster” sales including the quarterly bag sale where you pay $35 for anything you can stuff into one of their reusable bags.
Info: 18012 Bothell Everett Highway Suite 7, Bothell, WA 98012 | 425 486-6716
The grandmother of Eastside consignment stores still offers great deals
For 36 years, parents have been shopping the Tree House for deals on clothing, shoes, toys, books and equipment. It continues to have one of the largest selections of consigned clothes on the Eastside. Parents often come here first when they are looking for a holiday or special-occasion outfit.
Steals and deals: There is a “door-buster” sales rack right out the front door and a dollar rack sale the first Friday of each month.
Parent snaps: Parents love The Tree House for its large selection and because it truly welcomes kids as almost everyone that works there is a mom or grandma herself.
Kid snaps: The store has a play area where kids can hang out while parents shop.
Insider tip: The Tree House is the place to go on the Eastside for a large selection of consigned and new dance gear and shoes. Parking right in front of the store can be limited but there is always lots of parking adjacent to the building in front of the Redmond Staples and QFC.
Info: 15742 Redmond Way, Redmond, WA 98052 | 425 885-1145
Newly expanded and exploding with bargains in Issaquah
In its new, larger location in the Meadows Shopping Center by the Issaquah QFC, Small Threads is a lovely spot, with lots of natural light, large dressing rooms, stroller-friendly aisles and a changing table in the bathroom. The store also has a big selection of new toys and arts and crafts supplies.
Steals and deals: Before your next trip to Disneyland, save money on your princess attire by shopping the large selection of lovely costumes here. Also check out the special-occasion attire, including gorgeous flower girl dresses for as little as $40.
Mom snaps: Dixie Bair, the store’s owner, is a mom of four and passionate about safety. Equipment is cleaned, tested and checked against recall lists before going out on the shop floor.
Kid snaps: The store is super kid friendly with several areas for kids to “drop and play” while mom shops.
Insider tip: The new location has a community room where later this year the store will offer a wide range of classes of interest to parents as well as a space for showers and birthday parties.
One-stop thrift shopping in Redmond, Kirkland, Woodinville and a new store in Issaquah
If you enjoy hunting for bargains and one-stop shopping, you’ll enjoy Value Village thrift stores, which are all over the region, including a new location in North Issaquah near McDonald's. Each Value Village offers rack after rack of clothes, as well as books, household items, furniture, toy and sports equipment.
Steals and deals: Customers frequently find top brands like Baby Gap, Hanna Andersson, North Face and Carter’s for $5 or less in like-new condition. Most clothing items are priced at $9.99 and below, and most of the items in the kids’ sections are priced at $7.99 and below.
Parent snaps: You'll find deals on just about anything you're looking for, including stylish clothes for yourself, clothing, toys and books for their kids, knick-knacks for DIY projects, indoor and outdoor furniture and home décor galore. Value Village also contributes to local nonprofit organizations including Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Puget Sound. Value Village’s recycling program keeps more than 650 million pounds of goods from reaching landfills annually.
Tween and teen snaps: Value Village offers tweens and teens great deals on clothes and coats if they are willing to take the time to comb through the racks.
Insider tip: If you sign up to be a Club Card member at any Value Village location, you’ll enjoy additional savings during discount sale days throughout the year.
A Facebook revolution in "giving where you live"
If you are on Facebook, and want to build better connections with other families in your area and share your resources, check out your local Buy Nothing Group, a hyper-local sharing movement that was started by two Bainbridge Island moms and has now spread worldwide, with mor than 600 groups and 110,00 members. Members of each neighborhood group share resources through sharing and “gifting,” which, according the site, enables "people and communities to commit episodic acts of daily good together."
You can offer or ask for items both large and small (from bicycles to cake pans). One example: Dr. Amy Cottrille, DVM of Sammamish, was gifted a chicken coop that she converted to a stylish red mini barn for her foster baby goats (see picture).
Buy Nothing on the Eastside: Echo Chernik is a mother, artist and founder of the Buy Nothing Sammamish group. For her Buy Nothing work, she was awarded a Sammi Award recently for Environmental Stewardship. Chernik says that Buy Nothing Groups on the Eastside exist for many neighborhoods.
How to join your local group: To join, visit the projects main website for the Buy Nothing project, and go to “Find a Group” at the top of the page, follow the links to Washington, then see if your town has a group in your area. If not, you can always start one. You can also find your group in Facebook by searching on “Buy Nothing” and the name of your town. Groups are closed and so to join a group you click “join group,” after which a moderator will contact you to confirm your address. You are only permitted to join one group and that group must be where you live. Check the rules of the group before participating: For example, swaps are not allowed, only gifting.
Why is Buy Nothing special? Chernik says, “Freecycle and Craigslist are wonderful, but they tend to be much less personal. Buy Nothing is hyper local. That's the big difference. It focuses on "giving where you live," which encourages creation of a close-knit community of gifters, who all live in proximity to each other. You can literally "borrow a cup of sugar" from your neighbor off this list."
Chernik says Buy Nothing groups are especially great for families. “For parents, the recycling efforts are non stop. I only wish that I had a Buy Nothing Program when my children were young. Clothes, toys, gift cards, memberships, movies and more are gifted, and received. But the best part is the connections that you make through this gifting. People learn what age the kids are in the group, and start to anticipate the needs of other parents in the group. Before you know it, you are making play dates and sharing.”