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Learn some secrets of secondhand shopping from an expert

  • Selena Cate has learned a thing or two about saving money.

    Selena Cate has learned a thing or two about saving money.

  • Selena Cate used her thrifting skills to buy all these back-to-school items for her daughter.

    Selena Cate used her thrifting skills to buy all these back-to-school items for her daughter.

  • Cate's Web site, www.apronthriftgirl.com, gets about 5,000 vistors a week.

    Cate's Web site, www.apronthriftgirl.com, gets about 5,000 vistors a week.

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  • Selena Cate has learned a thing or two about saving money.

    Selena Cate has learned a thing or two about saving money.

  • Selena Cate used her thrifting skills to buy all these back-to-school items for her daughter.

    Selena Cate used her thrifting skills to buy all these back-to-school items for her daughter.

  • Cate's Web site, www.apronthriftgirl.com, gets about 5,000 vistors a week.

    Cate's Web site, www.apronthriftgirl.com, gets about 5,000 vistors a week.

Selena Cate learned the art of thrifting at her mother's knee in the 1970s.
She didn't find shopping at the Goodwill trendy as a teen, but as an adult she fell in love with English "boot sales" and German flea markets when she lived abroad.
Today Cate, a 36-year-old mother of two, runs a Web site, Apron Thrift Girl, from her 1920s cottage on Bainbridge Island.
The site, visited by 5,000 a week, is packed with her tips for finding thrifty treasures.
There's a section on thrift decor and a thrift boutique where she sells vintage finds. She estimates she buys 90 percent of her family's household goods secondhand.
Apron Thrift Girl shared some of her favorite places to find back-to-school clothes.
Buy for the future: Apron Thrift Girl keeps plastic tubs in her attic for each of her children labeled by age.
She buys the good finds when she spots them and stores them away. When she shops, she usually brings a notebook so she can keep track of what she still needs.
Choose higher quality brands: She tends to buy higher quality brands such as Gymboree or Stride Rite at secondhand shops. They tend to be cuter and better made, she said.
Shop the thrift store sales: For bigger savings, hit the secondhand shops when they offer sales. Goodwill offers sales like clockwork, she said. Show up early for the best selection.
Buy a season ahead: In June she buys winter clothing. The availability is better and people have often just cleaned out their winter closets.
Stop for yard sales: Neighborhood yard sales are the best places to find children's clothes. Prices are usually affordable and the quality tends to be good.
She recently scored a new name-brand backpack for $5 for her daughter. If you see a boatload of items in your child's age range, haggle a price for the lot.
Host a swap party: Invite friends and neighbors to bring their used clothing. Everyone dumps their bags into the center of the room and people dive in and start swapping. Other parties are more organized, with clothing stacked into sizes to make it easier. Any unwanted items get sent to a clothing bank at the end of the evening.
Check freecycle: An online group for posting and searching for free items. Many communities have freecycle groups, including Snohomish County: groups.yahoo.com/group/freecyclesnohomishcounty/
Swap with friends: A friend with a child a few years older than yours might be willing to share used clothing.
Source: www.apronthriftgirl.com

Reporter Debra Smith: 425-339-3197 or dsmith@heraldnet.com


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