A thrifty guide to children’s consignment shops in Toronto

Although thrifting is usually a go-to fall activity, it’s not as fun when you’re a new parent on the search for used kids’ clothes. That’s why resale and consignment kids’ boutiques have been popping up across the city and all over the Internet, making it easier and faster to get second-hand clothes to your kids — before they outgrow them. These shops purchase used clothing, shoes, accessories and even toys from families who no longer need them and resell to a new market at a fraction of the cost. As both an economically and environmentally conscious way to shop, new parents are loving them!

“Once I knew I was becoming a parent and bringing a new being to Earth, I became more conscious of the state of our planet,” says Christine Trinh, who owns Beeja May with her partner Simon Tan.“I wanted to buy used, but it’s so much easier to go to a fast fashion retailer’s website and just add to cart.”

They founded Beeja May with the goal of making second-hand shopping just as easy, convenient and fun as buying new.

Trinh wasn’t the only consumer looking to buy used to dress her newborn. Lana Abelson co-founded Wildlings after seeing an increased interest for second-hand shopping during the pandemic.

“People are more inclined to not buy everything new,” she says.“There’s been a shift mentally that people want to move away from fast fashion a little bit more.”

Although some shops, like Twice as Nice and Little White Sneakers, have brick-and-mortar locations, most sell online and advertise on social media. Abelson and co-owner Nikki Kaiser have hosted a few pop-ups in the past,  home deliveries are at the essence of Wildlings.

“The convenience of being able to find things online and have them brought to your house doesn’t go away after the pandemic,” says Kaiser. The owners also note that it has helped them reach a larger audience.

Toronto parents aren’t the only ones searching for convenient ways to shop second-hand, as Wildlings has delivered as far as Northwest Territories and even overseas to Japan.

Claudia Tse says her business Lil Cubs stands out by providing a lock box set in the Riverside area, giving customers the freedom to have contactless pickup whenever it suits their schedule. Furthering the convenience, Lil Cubs picks up the products from sellers and, unlike consignment shops, will give out the money immediately. Tse admits she is quite choosy about the brands she accepts. She looks for high quality from small shops and sustainable, locally made brands, naming Mini Mioche and Jax & Lennon as some of the most popular. Other consumers go straight to the high-end brands at Lil Cubs, like Calvin Klein.

“They’re saving a ton of money,” says Tse, commenting on those who reach out looking for the high-end pieces. “And there’s barely any wear in these clothes because babies grow so fast. They’re looking for the name brands but at a fraction of the price — while knowing that they’re doing something good for the earth.”

Abelson and Kaiser state that Wildlings has a “price point for everyone” but find consumers are mostly drawn to pieces that offer natural fibres and are well made and well designed, like French brands Jacadi and Petit Bateau. They also source out designer brands as much as they can, currently holding some Stella McCartney, Bon Point and Ralph Lauren pieces.

For those who want to be more sustainable but feel uncomfortable with previously worn pieces, Beeja May offers the Rescues Collection. Rescues are made up f rom fast fashion warehouse returns and pieces with minor imperfections; they’re brand new but cannot be sold through retailers.

Trinh says she’s eager to see people drawn toward buying second-hand and moving away from the idea that buying used means being unable to afford brand new.

“People are doing it because they want to, not because they have to.”

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