Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Pre-loved is pretty damn fabulous!

The local NCT Nearly New Sale took place on Saturday. This is a brilliant idea where parents can sell their unwanted toys, books, equipment, and clothing for babies and children as well as maternity clothes and parenting books. The NCT Charity takes a percentage of the selling price in return for handling the sales. Then buyers can choose from a veritable smorgasbord of goods all displayed  under one roof. Anything left unsold is returned to the buyer at the end of the sale along with a nice cheque in exchange for items sold. For the most part items are clean and in very good condition, if you don't like it you don't have to buy it and there is so much to choose from. It is like having all the best bits of the baby and kids sections of each well known store in one big hall.

 Everything is displayed on rails and tables in sections labelled according to ages. They hand you a large shopping bag and away you go elbows at the ready, the one downside of this sale is it's popularity, it gets very busy and therefore very crowded. I had to take Lucy with me so I went for the sensible option of using the baby sling to keep my hands free and took my Mum along to help, this coupled with two lovely friends who offered to drop my bags off on the way home to save us carrying it made it easy. The silly lady who decided to sit on the floor under the very busy toy table went un-noticed by me until I nearly fell over her, but try as we might we can't expect everyone to use their brains can we?

When I was a child secondhand often meant second best or in a lot of cases past its best! By the time items were handed down to younger children they were often out of fashion and well worn. Clothes were much more expensive and needed to last so much longer.  Now the secondhand market is thriving. Everyone is feeling the effects of the harsh economic climate, everyone's budget is having to go that little bit further, for many people it needs to stretch a lot further. As food and petrol prices increase, living costs go up and our disposable income goes down. For some it is plummeting at an alarming rate. Most of us can't buy everything new so sales like these are ideal.

When I was a child things were passed down quietly, people did not shout about their charity shop finds or brag about their children wearing something pre-loved. As a child who often wore hand me downs frankly it was embarrassing and other kids would comment.   Now thanks to the likes of EBay and Amazon Marketplace it is normal practise, indeed considered a clever find and thrifty to buy secondhand. We are all expected to recycle waste and do our bit for the environment. Children grow so quickly that they outgrow their clothes before they are worn out so it makes sense to either sell it or donate it to another family.

Which brings me nicely on to the numerous lovely mums and indeed dads, even sometimes their kids who often turn up on my doorstep with their generous donations. I won't embarrass you by naming you here, you know who you are and I thank you all.  To my lovely lady who sends parcels to a family she has not met, you will never know what that means to me  xxx

  'You won't be offended will you?' is their oft asked question, offended me? Never! Touched, deeply grateful, Yes. I am very happy to accept on the understanding that anything we do not need or cannot use can be passed on to someone else who needs it. Pay it forward.

 I am often astounded to see the same items passed on to me are still being sold in the local shops. Kerrie is currently running around in a brightly coloured Peppa pig top which if you saw it you would have no idea that it had been passed down from another family. She loves Peppa, she was so excited she actually kept it on all day, Kerrie is a child who doesn't like staying dressed so for our little stripper this was quite an achievement. If she doesn't like it then she is not going to wear it. The bags arrive and the kids ask if there is anything in there for them, they love it, if they don't like something or it is not their style I wont make them wear it, it can be passed on to someone else instead. We buy new clothes on their Birthday's and at Christmas, new underwear and tights and anything urgent otherwise things are passed up and down, back and forth, sometimes I forget which item belongs to which child, sometimes they do too.

 There is something lovely about passing things round in this way. The carrycot which we bought new for Chloe to sleep in was then sent from friend to friend to use for their babies, at the last count eight babies had slept in it at one time or another, eight babies! The brightly coloured Lamaze play mat Lucy loves to lie on while watching the mobile above is on loan from a friend. Baby equipment is so expensive and used for a relatively short amount of time so why not pass things around and share both the benefit and the expense.

So after an interesting afternoon choosing from the wide variety of items on offer at it must be said very reasonable prices and having a friendly chat with so many friends and local parents and grandparents all with the same mindset, we took my two overflowing bags to the till. I must say quick hello to Ally who was working very hard,  it was very nice to see you! I left with a considerably lighter purse but in the long run I will have saved a fortune against the price of buying new.

 I bought a huge pile of books which will hopefully satisfy Elisha's insatiable appetite for reading for a little while, a gorgeous snow suit which looked unworn to keep Lucy warm next winter. Lucy also benefited from beautiful party dresses and velvet skirts from Next and Debenhams, proper little cotton pyjama's, well spotted by my Mum, along with the softest, snuggliest little coat and a pair of tiny pink ugg style pram boots which gained many complements the following day. We found a lovely raincoat for Kerrie and James was very happy with transformers toys and a cars duvet set. It is harder to find things for older children but this time I got lucky with a couple of bits for Chloe too.

A very happy mummy and very happy children, the next sale is in September, I will be looking forward to it.

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