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The Etsy.com Effect
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Here's a shout-out to sites like etsy.com (love my “vintage quilt” baby dress) and shows like Storage Wars (addicted!). Thanks to them, thrifting's taken a turn toward the trendy. “There used to be this sense of, eh, that's not for me or my family,” says Darcy Cruwys, a single mom in Montana and founder of swapmamas.com. “But there's no stigma anymore. Just the opposite actually.” The go-green scene's played a role, and technology's key, too: You can now browse websites in your pj's while the baby naps, and post items to sell with an iPhone snap. What hasn't changed? The bargains!
What It Has: Brand-name “like-new” kids' clothes
How It Works: Search virtual racks by gender and age. Shipping is $7; free over $40. Selling? Order a bag, fill it up, and send it back to nab 20 to 40 percent of estimated resale (averaging $25 per bag).
Score! Ashley English of Candler, NC, logged on looking for shorts for her 2-year-old, but left with eight items for $26 (we totally know how that happens). “Between friends' hand-me-downs and this, we've pretty much outfitted our son.”
What It Has: On-trend women's clothes and shoes
How It Works: First download the free app at itunes.com. Sellers take an iPhone pic of an item in their closet, set a price, and—poof!—it's posted. Poshmark sends a prepaid shipping label when it sells, keeping 20 percent. Shoppers can “follow” women with their size and style (prices start at $5), and attend in-app “parties.” Shipping's $6 to $7.
Score! Micalah Thayer of Carmel, IN, mostly sells to pad the family budget but recently nabbed stylish Toms for $35. “As a mom of two [4 and 2 1/2] with a tight budget, this lets me ‘splurge’ on me.”
What It Has: Kids' clothes (lots for tots!), toys, and gear
How It Works: Browse by category and gender. Bigger items are often for pickup, so keep an eye on seller location; shipping rates vary. There's a “make offer” button if you want to haggle. Selling? The site takes a flat 6 percent.
Score! Kami McKee of Eufaula, AL, who has a 4-year-old and a 19-month-old, got a pile of essentials for under $20. “I live in a small town, so consignment shops are hard to come by. This has been a fantastic find.”
What It Has: Handmade baby stuff (pillowcase dresses!), custom services, you name it
How It Works: A cross between Facebook and a consignment shop, barter almost anything you have (outgrown kids' clothes, off-target gifts) for almost anything you want (bigger clothes, iPods). Swap services, too: An artist offered a custom baby portrait. It's all mom-to-mom—you strike the deal and handle shipping.
Score! McKell Jensen of Brigham City, UT, mom of a 1-year-old (and crafter at flapperfashions.etsy.com), has done over 100 swaps, including handmade hairclips for new makeup brushes. “It's a great way to clean out the house!”