Shopping the Big Box

While many turn up their noses at big box shopping, we find they’re just what we need to stay in budget and feel good about our choices.

She insists on wearing a dress to speech each week. That one’s a non-negotiable for her. She knows I’ll make her wear pants for her Parks & Rec preschool day. She knows she has to pick a leotard for gymnastics day. But, speech day? That one ALWAYS gets a dress.

Part of this has to do with the fact that she LOVES an audience and she has found one in the staff at that elementary school. The secretaries, the aides, even the principal come out to see just what she’s wearing on any given Wednesday. Braids swinging, skirts twirling, fingernails presented so they’ll admire her polish, she basks in their attention.

And so it goes.

This last week, she was dressed in an adorable knit dress with matching tights. An autumn chill had nipped the air that day and it was the perfect weight and style for the weather. Cotton-knit, gathered waist, striped tights– it was quintessential little girl cute.

The physical therapist happened to be wandering by as I sat with this little sparkler and she stopped to chat.

“G., I LOVE your dress!”

{spin, head tilt, preen} “Do you know where I got this pretty dress?”

She smiled, “Can I tell you a secret?” G. nodded. “I actually have four little girls of my own and I do know where you got that pretty dress because {lowered voice} we have the same one!”

G. smiled, then announced, triumphantly, “I got this dress from the big box!” She was full of joy because, let me tell you, nothing has excited her more this season than finding new treasures “in the box.”

“The box,” I explained to the physical therapist, “is the box of size 4/5, fall/winter stuff handed down from C. And some of it was handed down to her. So, well, really it’s just hand-me-downs. But, as you can see, G’s excited about it!” I laughed.

She laughed back and said, “Oh, believe me! With four girls, we’re not strangers to shopping from the box!”

At that, we said our goodbyes and my stripey-legged princess headed off for her speech therapy.

It’s true, though. Before we ever hit a single shop? We always “shop the big box” first. We are so very blessed to have older siblings who had their kiddos first and have passed down fabulous clothes to us. We also gratefully accept hand-me-downs from one of C’s friends who’s very, very picky about her clothing– just this past fall, we were given four pairs of Justice jeans, three Gap kids sweaters, and several items from the Children’s Place. At least half of those? Had TAGS!

While it’s obvious why my husband and I so appreciate the hand-me-downs, I’m also so glad that my children totally embrace the concept.

And that they, too, find joy in shopping the big box.

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17 comments to Shopping the Big Box

  • earleyml

    I am SOOO not embarrased to shop the “Big Box” or consignment stores/sales. We had the first child in our families but we’ve been fortunate enough to have a few families at our church pass down clothes to us. Since God blessed us with families who were kind to us, we try to do the same thing for other families in our church. Kids clothes are so expensive that having things donated to us is awesome! Plus kids grow out of stuff so fast that most of it still looks nice.

    • I love that, Michelle– just keep passing them on down! :) I love when I find someone who can use our outgrown-but-still-in-good-condition items. Saves them some money and helps us declutter– win-win!

  • Susan

    The word you should have used was “where I got this pretty dress” not “wear I got this pretty dress.”

    • You’re absolutely correct, Susan. I’ve made the change. I do ask for a bit of grace as I’ve spent the week being diagnosed with a devastating chronic illness, attempting multiple medications, and then having that all turned on its head. I willingly confess that I’m likely even more error-prone than usual these days. Thank you for letting me know so I could fix it, though!

  • Dawn

    We love shopping the box! I’m so fortunate to have a friend with a daughter in my son’s class who passes on to me all the things her daughter outgrows. My little girl gets giddy when we get to sort through all the “new” things her big brother’s friend can’t wear anymore. We have no source of hand-me-downs for my big boy though, but he doesn’t care what he wears. I browse secondhand stores for clothes for him whenever I can, since he’s oddly proportioned, so shopping for him is hit or miss.

    Everything my kids outgrow gets passed on to someone else if it’s in good shape, and if it’s worn out it gets repurposed. Pants can be cut into shorts and the part cut off turned into patches. Our newest recycling trick has been creatively cutting socks with holes and turning them into superhero capes for small stuffed toys. It has resulted in the past few weeks being superhero academy for all the budding new stuffed toy superheroes.

    • I LOVE your super hero cape repurpose… how fun is THAT??? What a great way of giving new life to cast off clothing items! :)

      • Dawn

        My son has mild anxiety, so we have to give him a happy thought before bed so he can fall asleep. Ever since the creation of the superhero capes, we haven’t had to do a happy thought. We just plan what the stuffed toy superheroes are going to practice at superhero school. Last night one of his bigger stuffed toys wanted to join in the fun, so we made a cape out of an outgrown T-shirt (cut off everything except the back and the collar, then cut the collar to make ties).

  • Celine

    My kids LOVE hand me downs. My older one got tons of them as a baby but now she is either the same size or bigger then those who gave us hand me downs. This makes her extremely sad.

    The younger one gets hand me downs from both her sister and from friends. She has more clothes then any kid should own.

    • We have the same size issue with our son– we don’t really have a good hand me down source for him anymore. Boo!! Fortunately, he’s really not picky and boys tend to wear the same basics, so we can usually snag them on good deals. :)

  • Laraba

    I remember going on a rare date with my husband while pregnant with our youngest child, and a department store had a darling little baby outfit that, with all the pieces, was over $100. I was just blown away that ANYONE has enough money to pay that much for baby clothes. I am super thankful for many many generous family members and friends who pass on clothing to us. When I don’t have enough, I shop a local thrift store that has gently used clothing in good shape. I hate shopping for clothes so that works well…I’m in, I’m out, quickly. We are facing the challenge now of 2 big girls who are too big for children’s clothing but I don’t like a lot of teen clothing out there. Fortunately, they aren’t very picky about what they where. I have heard that in public schools there is a big emphasis on name brand and the like — not sure if that is true everywhere, hopefully not. As homeschoolers, they can wear anything modest and no one gives them a hard time :-).

    • Laraba

      And I did the same thing you did, I see — switched “wear” and “where”! Neither of us do THAT very often, I’m sure :-).

    • I think the “name brand” thing can definitely be true here, though my kids are still pretty little and they don’t really care. I’m hoping they stay as easy going about it as we move into the older years! :) (And YES to the girl clothing issue– any time people talk about how much cuter girl clothes are than boy clothes, I remind me them that they pay the price later on… ;) )

  • Kasee

    My daughter also has a friend who is picky about her clothes and just after school started gave us a tote full of clothes with tags on most of them and my daughter loved them and definitely appreciated plus being my only girl we don’t really have hand me downs but with my boys I save their clothes.

  • It had been years since we got any hand-me-downs for Libbie – I guess maybe due to being in a new city and not knowing that many people. But for this fall we were blessed with about a garbage bag and a half of lovely hand-me-downs. I am so thrilled and so is Libbie – she loves that she’s wearing her friend’s clothes!

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