playing with happyland ship

Thrifty nearly new sales with toddler in tow

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Today was the day of our local NCT sale.  I love volunteering, but it’s pretty difficult getting someone to look after N for a full day as the volunteers are there from 8 until 3.  I did decide to sell though, as I had a big pile of clothes and toys to get rid of as well as various baby accoutrements that N doesn’t use anymore.

It’s always great fun even if you’re not volunteering.  I always find someone to chat to and compare notes on selling and buying with someone else in the sellers queuing to drop off items.  There’s a quick chat with the NCT volunteers I know, and of course there’s the queue for the actual sale.

The sellers are always wondering whether they’ve priced things right and I reckon it is a bit of a minefield especially if you’re selling for the first time.  But it’s great to see people buying your items (we were in the queue for the sale, and one of the volunteers had bought my net of ball pit balls…turned out ours were the cheapest ones on sale so people always compare prices if there’re the same items for various prices).   My view is price it low if you want to just get rid of items, price it a bit higher if you’re hoping, but think you’d be able to sell it via other means elsewhere afterwards.

This time I had N with me for the actual sale which I was dreading.  Even as a baby, I’d never taken him along as there’s never really enough room for prams, but he was really good and didn’t start pulling things he wanted off the tables, or running around.  I’m not sure the sale was as busy as previous ones though so it wasn’t as manic.

I always get there early so I can be at the start of the queue and zoom round quickly before it gets busy, although this time it was raining and we had to wait outside, so N had some fun under the umbrella with another boy we know from his old music group/swimming.  I’d also brought enough snacks with me to keep him entertained in the sale while he was following me around.

I did have a vague idea of a couple of items I wanted to look for…playmobil/duplo (seems that our area buys lots of megablocks, but there’s not much duplo going second hand, and there was only one small playmobil item and it was pretty expensive for a tiny item), and books.  Last sale I’d not really seen much in the way of books that were for us, but this time we got quite a good haul.  Again though, pricing can be all over the place – I bought a collection of 10 Usbourne phonics books for £4, but then other single picture books were on sale for £1.50.  Seems a bit steep, but I wonder how many go back home having been unsold?

Clotheswise there was little available as most clothes being sold are for under 2 year olds.  Once they get older (especially boys), clothes get worn for longer and wrecked, so we only got one hoody which will be good for nursery.  I was astounded to see one Boden t-shirt age 3-4 priced at £4.50.  The sizing looked on the small size as I held it against N who’s mostly still in 2-3y, and I didn’t think it would have gone round his stomach, but I’d be astounded if someone would have paid that for a t-shirt, wherever it was from.  I’d put a Boden t-shirt in myself, but priced it at £1.50 as an expensive brand with most going for £1, but even I had a couple of t-shirts (immaculate ones) and pairs of cord trousers come back as unsold.  I think as well as pricing, it depends how well people look, especially as most people look for younger children, and only in the older ages if they’ve also got an older child as well.

Whenever I’ve volunteered I’ve been amazed by the amount of toys on sale, with many having to be set out on the floor before being moved to the tables once some have been sold.  But this time, there seemed to be a lot less available.  I felt a bit sorry for non-NCT members who don’t get let in to the sale until 30 minutes later, as I thought there really wasn’t much decent stuff left after the volunteers and members had attacked the tables.

While we did pick up lots of books, a puzzle and game, plus a shoe lace ‘trainer, the only toy we grabbed was a Happyland* pirate ship.  N’s quite into pirates for some reason (could be the books, and the cutlass he has?), so I thought he’d be quite keen on that.  I was a bit put off by paying a tenner for it, until I later saw that new they’re nearer £50.  I also spotted the full fairground set – in the ELC catalogue for £60, on sale for £12. Bargain, although we already have the carousel from an earlier sale.  I did debate the Happyland as he has got quite a few pieces, but as his cousin still likes playing with it and he’s just started school, we should get plenty of play out of it before he’s too old.

All in all, although I didn’t manage to pick up items I had hoped for, spending £22 on a huge bag of goodies was definitely worth it.  I’ve just got to hope most of my things sold rather than being left and just being sent to charity.  I did come home with a few items (larger and higher priced), two I was surprised didn’t get bought, but I know I’ll be able to sell them on locally without too much effort.

I was really surprised at how good N was.  I’d told him beforehand that it would be busy and he’d have to stay with me at all times.  He waited really nicely in the queue, and apart from insisting on carrying the pirate ship (and playing with it at one stage amongst the clothes rails), he did everything I asked of him.

playing with happyland ship

I’m a big believer in communicating to him with enough notice so he knows to be prepared.  I’m positive this has helped settle him into new situations, and sets expectations ahead of time so he knows exactly what is good behaviour and what won’t be accepted.

However, I’m not sure out of choice I’d take him to another sale again.  It’s quite stressful checking he’s ok and hasn’t been clobbered by someone’s huge bag of goodies, and if he’d not had a friend in the queue to play with, I’m not sure he’d have been so good while waiting for the sale to open.

Have you been to any NCT nearly new sales recently, or where do you find best when looking for second hand toys, books and clothes for children?

What’s been your best bargain?

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