Saturday secondhand finds.

I am obsessed with all things second-hand — treasures I can find from thrift stores, yard sales, estate sales, antique malls, and rummage sales. My parents were big yard salers when I was a kid, so I am assuming that’s how I ended up with this hobby…after becoming an adult and moving into my own apartment, it became more than a hobby — it became a way to furnish my life inexpensively and, more importantly, creatively. I’ve never wanted a house or apartment that looked like everybody else’s, and that means not shopping at the places everyone else shops at. It’s amazing, the things that I’ve found over the years. It’s such an obsession for me that I’ve actually got another blog that talks about my finds — Pretty.Quirky. Because when you’re as obsessed as I am, you HAVE to tell the world when you find something amazing for a great price.

As soon as I found out we were pregnant, I of course immediately started figuring out what baby items could be purchased second hand and what needed to be purchased new. Justin was dubious at first, until we went to Baby’s R Us to register and we both realized how expensive having two infants really was. By religiously searching Craigslist, I was able to find a Pack and Play in like-new condition for $40; a double Snap n’ Go stroller for $30; a changing table for $150; a wicker armoire for $60; and two Graco two-year-old car seats for $60.(Side note: buying infant car seats second-hand is very controversial and I wasn’t sure I should. Even if a car seat is involved in an accident that is no more than a fender-bender it can be damaged to the point that it is no longer safe for a baby. ¬†However, I met with the woman who was selling them and, this may be naive of me, but I trusted her when she told me that they had never been in a car accident. She said that her insurance would have paid for new ones and she wouldn’t have let her babies ride around in car seats that might be questionable; she also said that she could never live with herself if she sold someone car seats that might be dangerous and that $60 certainly wasn’t worth that. She had the original boxes and the original handbooks for the seats and they’re both marked on the bottom with their manufactured dates/expiration dates, so we could see that they were only two years old. I told Justin if I had the slightest sense that she wasn’t on the up-and-up I wasn’t going to take them, but I really trusted her.) The entire summer I was pregnant I was buying clothes at yard sales and rummage sales. We did go new on the cribs, because we couldn’t find two that matched.

Now that the babies have arrived, it’s much easier to shop for them because we have a better sense of what we need and what they like. Clothes are easy to find, of course. Toys are more complicated — it can be hard to find toys that are in good condition, but I’ve had some success. It’s rummage sale season now — rummage sales were never my favorites on Saturdays but oh, how things have changed. I’ve come to realize that they are the absolute best place to find baby stuff at great prices. I’ll be sharing my finds with you, starting with this Saturday’s hauls.

First of all: the one that got away. Because I can never be content with what I came home with, there’s always that one thing that I let slip out of my hands. This week it was a MacClaren single stroller. I’m not sure what they were asking for it, but it was at a rummage sale that had the most reasonable prices I’ve ever come across, so I think it was probably pretty cheap. Justin and I have been mulling over the possibility of buying a single for when one of us is out with only one twin — or to use it when stroller bulk will be particularly bothersome and one twin can be in a sling while the other is in a stroller. We didn’t want to spend any money on it, though, after spending quite a bit for our double stroller, so it was on my list to look for second hand. I was just so taken by all the other stuff I was finding at this sale that I just kind of looked right through the stroller until I was about 20 minutes away from the sale — then suddenly thought, “why the heck didn’t I take a closer look at that?” I turned around and went back, fighting Chicago Saturday morning traffic, only to find that it sold right after I walked out. I suddenly became convinced that that was the only stroller that could possibly work for us. So that was a bummer, but I did get some other fun stuff.

The little bug rattle was an instant hit with Jack, who can’t take his eyes off of it. I paid fifty cents for it. That’s the kind of thing I just can’t bring myself to pay $10 for, when the shelf life is so limited — they’ll outgrow them so quickly! This was in good shape and all I needed to do was throw it in the wash. Two soft books in great shape, fifty cents each. I particularly love the one with the little dog head on it. Two huge Tonka trucks for two dollars each. I kind of regretted this purchase as soon as I made it because they are SO big and will be hard to store, and it will be a while before either of them are old enough to play with them — but when I brought them home, Jack couldn’t take his eyes off of them, so hopefully they will be well worth the money when he’s ready for them. I found our second Bumbo for $5, which I was thrilled about — I was determined to buy second hand Bumbos because they are huge, solid, indestructible items that probably take 1.5 million years to decompose in a landfill, but I couldn’t find them anywhere. Finally, I found one with a tray for $25 at Once Upon a Child, a consignment store. I was not happy with the price at all, even though Justin checked to see how much it would be at Amazon with the tray and we were saving about 40%. I went ahead and bought it, thinking it would be the best deal we could hope to get, and now have seen nothing but Bumbos for so cheap at rummage sales. I’ll be on the lookout for a tray for this one. I bought the little pictures of the cow and pig for $1 each with no idea where to put them. I thought they looked cute paired with the wicker armoire in the nursery so hung them on the doors.

I also got a lot of great clothes but it’s kind of hard to take interesting photos of stacks of clothes so I’ll spare you that…but if I take any photos of the babies in thrifted or yard saled clothes, I’ll point them out. At this point, I haven’t purchased any new clothes in months, and I feel a little irked if I have to spend over $2 on an item of clothing! I have had great luck at getting out stains of all kinds, by the way, so I don’t even hesitate if I find something super cute with spit-up stains on it — I throw a scoop of Oxyclean in the washer and I’ve had 100% success so far.

Now I’m looking very forward to next Saturday…hoping I will find the single stroller then.

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