I’m going to let you in on a secret: Most of my kid’s clothes are secondhand. Some are hand-me-downs. The rest are from yard sales and clothing swaps in Santa Monica. Time is of the essence when doing stuff like this (clothing procurement). Let me save you time with these pointers.

Buying Secondhand

From the Mt. Olive sale in 2016.

Mt. Olive Lutheran Preschool fall rummage sale

Every fall, the preschool at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church hosts an epic rummage sale in their auditorium.  The doors open at 8am. Come armed with an IKEA bag or two so you can carry your finds. This is how I managed to stock up on enough clothes to get through the year. The Mt. Olive sale is the best place to score toys, clothes, shoes, kitchen knick knacks, and more.

Note, there is a separate multi-family yard sale in the spring (typically late April) at Mt. Olive. I have not been able to attend either.

Mt. Olive Lutheran Preschool is served by Big Blue Bus Route 8.

Santa Monica’s City Wide Yard Sale

Creative from the 2017 citywide yard sale

Every September, the City of Santa Monica’s Resource Recovery and Recycling  division (known internally at the City as R3)  organizes a city-wide yard sale. The City helps households people publicize sales through their website, email marketing lists, and ads in the local newspaper. They also make an interactive map available that allows you to hone in on locations selling things you might be interested in, such as kid stuff.

Hanging out at a yard sale on an early Saturday morning.

What’s so great about this is the incredible number of participants in our 8.8 square miles. You’re likely to find at least half a dozen sales to visit within walking distance.

The 2018 sale will be on September 15th. You’ve been given advanced notice!

Transportation: If you cannot get to the sale on foot, then it’s not really worth going to.

Who doesn’t like free?

This hot pink jacket belonged to another Santa Monica toddler before I found it at a clothing swap last fall.

Periodically, the Santa Monica Mom’s Club will host a clothing swap at a park in Santa Monica. You bring toys, baby doodads, and clothing your children have outgrown in a bag. They lay out tarps where you can sort your clothes by size. You then fill your bag with clothes in the next size up. That’s how I managed to find some play clothes for Will, plus this really terrific hot pink fleece jacket.

If you are a stay-at-home or part-time employed mom, you can join the chapter’s Facebook group. For the rest of us, follow me on Twitter!

Buying New

I try to find as much clothing as possible for my son secondhand because of cost and environmental considerations. I’m also a fan of buying my son clothes in person because more often than not, I’ve made mistakes with sizing when buying online – and it’s way more of a hassle, for me, to return something than to go where I can buy the clothing in person.

Gymboree in Santa Monica Place

The local shopping mall in Santa Monica is populated mostly by high-end stores, but there are two destinations for children. One is the Disney Store (I refuse to go inside). The other is Gymboree. Gymboree filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and closed hundreds of stores, but the one in Santa Monica Place still marches on.

My Yelp review is more on-point:
Read Sirinya M.‘s review of Gymboree on Yelp

Gymboree is served by Big Blue Bus routes 1, 2, 3, R3, 5, 7, R7, 9, R10, and 18.

TJ Maxx and Marshalls

Both carry items like toys, toddler’s kitchenware (think: Nuby and Phillips Avent bottles; Munchkin sippy cups; pacifiers; kid-sized plates and dishes, bibs), and lots of books. The prices are always a few dollars off what you would pay on Amazon. As is the case with all off-price retail, the fun in shopping at these places is the element of surprise in bargain hunting. But don’t be surprised if you go there looking for something very specific, and it’s not there.

TJ Maxx on Arizona Ave. at 4th Street: Served by all Big Blue Bus routes coming into downtown Santa Monica; Metro 704 and 720; Metro Expo Line.

Marshalls on Olympic Blvd. at Sawtelle Ave.: Big Blue Bus Routes 5 (Olympic Blvd.) and 17 (Sawtelle Ave.)

The Gap

Twinning!

Not cheap – but also, totally worth the money for items that will get heavy use, like coats and play clothes. There is one within walking distance of my house, on Wilshire Blvd. and 20th Street.

The Gap on Wilshire at 20th St is served by Big Blue Bus Routes 2, 41, and 42.

Honorable Mentions

Costco. They carry Carter’s and Little Me, brands that are both well-regarded by Baby Bargains. I picked up a set of pajamas for Wilshire last weekend for about $10.

Carter’s. Their clothes are well-made and withstand the wear-and-tear of an active toddler. The closest Carter’s to Santa Monica is on Sepulveda Blvd. in Culver City. There is also a Carter’s now open inside Crenshaw Plaza, which is about a 10 minute walk from the Crenshaw Expo station.